How to Create a Basic Career Plan

Career Planning

Recently, I was asked to speak with all the year 10s in one of my schools, to help them understand their choices moving forward.

I developed a lesson plan that helped them think about their future, and I thought that actually more people might be able to use the activities I did with them. Here’s the blog post version of that lesson!

Whether you are starting out in your career, or perhaps aren’t happy where you are, or even you are but know you want to plan to do more in the future, these three steps can help you set out a basic plan to get to where you want to be.

The first thing to think about is what’s important to you.

Here are some examples of things that were important to my students:

  • to be near to my family
  • to live in London
  • to do somethig creative
  • to have a lot of money
  • to have my own home so I can start a family

Yours may look like this, or they may not.

While we’re here’s I’d just like to say that wanting to be rich or well off isn’t anything to be ashamed of. I think especially women are taught to not ask for more than we’re given, while it’s a lot more common for men to be open about wanting to be well off.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a lot of money. Simple.

Take a piece of paper and write down these important things. They’re, you know…important. So give them your time and really consider what things mean the most to you.

The next thing to do is to write down what choices you have.

What steps do you need to take to get you on a path towards these important things?

So for example, if you want to get a promotion but your current role isn’t giving you the experience you need to get there, then you have the choice to seek out that experience, or gain those skills through another means.

If you want to be known for a certain thing, then you will look into writing about that thing and getting your name out there.

Money is your thing? Then look at whether you can start a side business, or maybe make steps to level up in your job.

Choices can be as simple as switching up what you wear at work so you feel more confident and act like the person you want to be, or they might be as complex as having a whole career shift into that thing you’ve always wanted to do. Everything you do will affect your career in some way, even if it’s just by improving your mood and energy levels, so don’t feel you have to make massive and drastic changes to make things work.

The last part it to look at the challenges and barriers you have.

If things were easy, we’d all be where we want to be already. There are always challenges and barriers stopping us.

It might be that you can’t quite get to that promotion, or that you don’t have the money to take the course and get the skills. Perhaps fear is holding you back and you don’t want to make a jump.

Write these challenges down as well, and for each one come up with a way to overcome it. If there’s a will, there’s a way. Here are some examples:

  • Want to dress more confidently but don’t have the wardrobe? Search for items on eBay and car boot sales until you have everything you need (this is what I did!)
  • Regret not taking a degree in that thing that will get you in the right direction? Look at free (or cheap) online courses that will allow you to gain the same skills for less.
  • Feel really hopeless because you’re really not happy where you are? Do your research into other jobs and baby step yourself towards making the leap to a better job.

Every challenge has a solution, and again it could be the smallest changes that make the biggest differences.

Once you’ve put these three steps (what’s important to you, what your choices are, what your challenges are) together, this is your basic career plan. You can clearly see where you want to be, and what things you might do to get you there.

When things get tough and you feel like you can’t cope, go back to that important list and remind yourself why you’re doing it. You have to keep your eye on the prize as things will get challenging at times (again, if they were easy, we’d all be doing them!)

I’d love to know if you put this plan into action and how you’ve found it! Do let me know in the comments!


  1. This is such a great article Charlotte – and it is so important to recognise what motivates us. Money is important for some people but I thought your readers might be able to identify what motivates them if I also added the other things that motivate us

    Belonging, friendship and fulfilling relationships
    Recognition, respect and social esteem
    Security, predictability and stability
    Money, material satisfactions and an above average living
    Power, influence, control of people and/or resources
    Expertise, mastery and specialism
    Innovation, problem solving, identification with new, expressing creative potential
    Having freedom and independence, making own decisions
    Making a difference, providing worthwhile things

    We all have all 9 motivators and they change as we go through different stages of our life. Some will be more important to us than other so it is really important to think about which ones are important when we think about career options

    • Charlotte says

      Thank you Sarah – I think I’ve linked to your website in a previous post, for people who want to look into their motivators.

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