The Power of a Plan (Part 2)

Planning is important at the best of times, but even more so in a crisis

Any changing, uncertain and volatile situation is a good time to continue building and planning your professional ambitions. 

When circumstances are difficult and the only thing you can influence is you, then forget what you can’t control and focus on what you can.

Make it about you. Prepare and plan for you. 

  1. Build your self-awareness – spend some time trying to really understand what it is you want. Use one of the many SWOT documents that are downloadable and free online to better analyse where you’re at. 
    Focus on answering the questions thoughtfully and honestly. When are you at your best? What are your transferable skills? What are you most proud of? What do others see as your strengths? 

  2. Think about what interests you in your current role and what you want to see more of in the next one. What motivates you? How ambitious are you…how important are things like independent or team work, work-life balance, financial gain etc for you? 

  3. Ask for feedback. What gaps in your knowledge or skills do you need to bridge?   

  4. Track your achievements. This is so important! As well as being good practice for interviews and performance appraisal preparation, it’s also a good way to keep boosting your self-esteem. It’s not just about major projects you’ve delivered, but also challenges you’ve overcome – handling a difficult conversation with a colleague, client or supplier, facilitating a meeting with controversial topics. 

  5. Be curious. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of people doing similar jobs to what you think you’d like to do – within your own organisation and in your broader network.

  6. Be proactive. Offer to support colleagues, put yourself forward for projects and new responsibilities outside of your job description that will facilitate your learning, allow you to test out new skills.
    But be deliberate in your choices and stretch yourself!

  7. Research possibilities, look for opportunities to learn more about what you want to do. In your own company, within your personal and professional network, via free webinars, LinkedIn learning, articles etc…

  8. Write it down. Goals, steps, action plan. The act of writing it makes it real. If your goal feels too big, too chunky, break it down. Start with small manageable steps that you can build on. 

In summary, take charge!

  • Know yourself
  • Know what you want (this does not have to be a specific role)
  • Identify what you need to do
  • Build a plan with goals, monitor your progress and remember to reward yourself along the way!

There is real power in being aware of ourselves and what we want – our skills, values, desires, preferences and our opportunities. 

  1. If you feel like you need help doing this, or if you feel like you’ve been doing this but need help interpreting the resultsget in touch 

The Power of a Plan (Part 1)

The biggest obstacle women face on the path to senior leadership is actually at the first step to manager. More men get promoted at this first step than women – for every 100 men, there’s 70 women. [1]

There are many different reasons for this that I’m not going to attempt to go into here. But there is one very simple reason that we can control directly. At the beginning of their careers, most men make some sort of career plan, yet far fewer women do the same.

Research also shows that men consistently focus on positioning themselves for their next move, while women tend to focus on the present and their current performance and don’t always seek out information or people useful to their future.

While there are significant systemic and societal changes that need to happen, there is one change that we can make ourselves – and that is the decision to have a plan. [2]

As a young woman, the biggest difference you can make is by doing these three things:

  • Make a plan for where you want to go and what you want to achieve
  • Better understand your own strengths, preferences, resources and any gaps you need to bridge
  • Take self-awareness, self-confidence and communications skills seriously.

If planning is considered to be one of our biggest barriers to career advancement, let’s help ourselves to determine the future by thinking ahead. “Luck favours the prepared mind” as the saying goes.

Making individual commitment to career planning, taking responsibility for what we want and setting ourselves goals that will help us achieve it is a HUGE step in the right direction to owning our own progress.

Watch out for Power of a Plan Part 2 with ideas and tangible steps to help make planning easier.

[1] McKinsey Women in the Workplace 2019 report
[2] Gallagher, C. A., & Golant, S. K. (2001). Going to the top: A road map for success from America’s leading women executives.

I’m a communications specialist and coach. I run coaching and mentoring programmes for young women to help build self-awareness, self-confidence, strong communications skills and resilience.