Set Goals. Take Action. Make a Career Development Plan.

June 24, 2016 | Linda Barner

If you work full-time, chances are you’re spending the majority of your day with coworkers doing what you love, right? If not, it’s time to start thinking about your professional future, where you want to be and how you’ll get there. Creating a career development plan is a way to identify your work values, the environment you prefer working in and a career goal that leads to where you want to be long-term, with milestone goals along the way.

Your Career Development

Where do you see yourself in your career in three years? How about two years? Maybe, next year? If you’re not sure how to answer these questions, it might be time to give some attention to your career development. Career development means taking an ongoing active role in shaping a future you would prefer and not just leaving it to chance or hoping that it will happen on its own.

Why does career development matter? It comes down to your overall happiness in life. In 1938, the Harvard Grant Study began and lasted 75 years, making it one of the longest and most dimensional studies on happiness. During that time, researchers followed 268 Harvard undergraduate men who came from all walks of life. For decades, they tracked a range of factors in the men's lives, including intelligence levels, alcohol intake, relationships and income. In 2012 the results were published in a book by Harvard psychiatrist George Vaillant, who led the study from 1972 to 2004. Dr. Vaillant concluded what many of us know instinctively. More than money and power, “the only thing that matters is that you be content at your work.”

Here are a few things to consider for your career development:

Ask yourself where you want to be

Since no one else but you can possibly know what will make you happy in your career, it’s up to you to take charge and actively pursue your professional goals. Are you satisfied with your current situation? Do you want to maintain it or change it? If you are looking to make changes, doing some self-assessment will help you understand your interests and preferences. There are lots of free assessments online that can help you through this process.

You also need to take stock of your skills. If you’re looking to make career changes, identify the skills you will need to perform successfully. One way to do this is by looking at job postings for positions that interest you. Compare the skills required with those you already possess. Think of your skills as those that are specialized and those that are transferrable. Transferrable skills are skills that you use in one job that could be used or adapted elsewhere.

Set goals

Create an action plan to help you get to where you want to be. Start by thinking what you want to be doing in the next one to two years. This can help you break down the big picture into manageable pieces. It you need to develop a specific skill, consider the various ways you might be able to accomplish that goal and write down clearly defined, short statements you can work towards. Many people find success by using the SMART goal method (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely), but the most important part is to have a method that works for you.

Stay motivated

It can take time to get to where you want to go. Unfortunately, people will often let the thought of that defeat them before they even get started! What can you do to get motivated? Eric Barker, author of How to get motivated, according to science, says “We need to think to plan but we need to feel to act.” He provides these three tips for motivation:

  1. Get positive.
    Monitor the progress you’re making and celebrate it.
  2. Get rewarded (or penalized).
    Treat yourself whenever you complete something on your list, or you could try a “commitment device” instead. His suggestion is to give your friend $100. If you get your action done by the time you said you would, you get your $100 back. If you don’t complete it, you lose the $100.
  3. Get peer pressure.
    Whether you surround yourself with people whose aspirations are similar to yours, or get an accountability buddy, having someone to be accountable to can help you stay on track.

Keep in mind as you’re doing your career planning that your journey will last throughout your lifetime. The world is constantly changing and so are you, so be open to new possibilities and adapting your career goals. Appreciate unexpected experiences and opportunities along the way that may broaden your skillset. And remember, even if you’re satisfied with your career, keep learning and developing new talents, so you will be ready for the future. Mission Fed offers many different career opportunities, ongoing education and a positive work environment. If you’re thinking about the financial industry, consider Mission Fed and check out our available positions online.

Mission Fed is an equal opportunity employer.


Harvard’s 75-Year Study Reveals The Secret to Living a Happy Life. And Here It Is:

How to get motivated, according to science, by Eric Barker:

The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. Mission Federal Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.

Mission Fed CTA Banner.

Linda Barner

Linda Barner

Linda Barner is VP Human Resources at Mission Federal Credit Union where she oversees the human resources and training and development functions. In addition to having over 20 years of experience in HR, Linda is a dedicated lifelong learner. She feels very fortunate to have found the perfect career for herself, because “professional student” does not pay the bills.

More Blog Posts

Mission Fed thanks you times a million

At Mission Fed, we’re always searching for additional ways to show our appreciation for our members...

At Mission Fed, we value our members and continue to provide them with great rates and a full line of time- and money-saving products and services, but we’re always searching for additional ways to show our appreciation for their loyalty. That’s why the $1 Million Mission ...

5 Tips for Holiday Fun on a Budget

The holidays can be expensive, but with some smart choices, you can have a lot of fun even on a...

The holidays can be expensive, but with some smart choices, you can have a lot of fun even on a budget. Try making food and gifts yourself, watch for sales carefully, keep costs down while traveling and take advantage of the free beautiful light displays throughout the...

Heart Disease—The Number One Health Threat to Women and Men—and What We Can do About It

Support Go Red for Women and help your family and friends become aware of the number one health...

Support Go Red for Women and help your family and friends become aware of the number one health threat to women and men. Cardiovascular disease takes the life of one woman every 80 seconds in the U.S. The good news is that 80 percent of cardiac events may be...

Tips on How to Keep Your Identity Safe

Do you know how identity thieves gain access to your information? Learn how you can use your...

Identity thieves impersonate their victims by using personal information such as Social Security Numbers and account numbers to either open new accounts in their victims’ names or to gain access to existing accounts and steal money. Read more to find out how you can protect...

Branch/ATM Locator

Search for Mission Fed Branches and ATMs, or 30,000 CO-OP Network ATMs Nationwide