As the year comes to a close, it is time to think about how to move your career forward in 2016. We understand that nobody wants to think about these things. Unfortunately, career planning is a necessary part of developing your skills and moving ahead in your career. A bit of strategizing and planning can also greatly contribute to your day-to-day job satisfaction.
Yes, some people claim they were in the “right place at the right time” and, magically, they now have a happy and fulfilling career without ever having had to make any career decisions. However, in reality, this rarely happens! Please do not fall victim to letting your career just happen to you. Don’t be complacent or throw your hands up in the air and give up. Figure out your goals and try to chart a realistic and attainable path to meet them. Lawyers spend so much time strategizing for their clients. We should also take a few minutes, at the end of every year, and do the same for ourselves.
While there is no one right way to navigate your career, one useful tool is to maintain a current business/development plan. Whether you are an associate, partner or in-house counsel, there are always things you can be doing to develop your skills and your practice. At the end of each year, you should look over your plan and determine where the holes were. Is there a client you didn’t connect with? Is there an industry that you would like to expand into or a conference you wanted to attend? Add these items to your business plan. Your plan should be maintained, updated and reviewed at least once a year, but ideally more frequently as new ideas pop into your head. If December is too busy, pick another time of year and put a specific date in your calendar to remind yourself.
As Ben Franklin (may have) said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Take the time to contemplate your goals, assess your needs and plan for a fantastic year ahead!