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Who needs a Career Plan?

As a coach, you expect your athletes to train - to be ready for the next contest so they don’t have to scramble to get ready.  Those valuable life skills that you teach to athletes are just that - life skills.  We all need them and use them every day.  Sure, we don’t make a plan for everything, but we do for the most important things in our lives.

Getting all the pieces of your life together the way you want is a lifelong exercise.  Finding the right job that lets you fulfill your goals and complements your personal life is probably one of the most important things you’ll ever do.  How will you know when you’ve found that job?  How will you know when you’re a “success”?  When faced with the unexpected, how will you know which decision leads you toward your goal and which one won’t?  A career plan can help you answer those questions.

“If you don’t measure it you can’t manage it!”  Writing down a career plan (and you should always write down your career plan) is a simple thing, but there’s a lot that goes into it.  A career plan consists of a Long-term career goal, and one or more Short-term objectives that are necessary for you to accomplish your career goal.  The key to your plan working is to make sure that all of your goals are:

  • Specific.  You need to be able to tell when you’ve accomplished this goal.  The more specific the goal is, the more likely you are to be confident that you’ve achieved it.
  • Positive.  Don’t think about what you don’t want - make sure you stay focused on what you do want.
  • Realistic.  This can be hard, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience.  This is where finding a mentor can be invaluable to you.  Look for someone that is further down the career road than you.  You don’t necessarily need to find the older, sage coach that has completed their career.  The coach that’s just a few steps ahead of you on your path might provide you with insight that’s more relevant to your situation.  And there’s nothing wrong with having more than one mentor!

Here’s a sample Career Plan to give you some ideas:

Long-term Career Goal:  Head baseball coach at 4A-6A high school in a rural or suburban area

Short-term Objectives:

Get certified to teach history for grades 9-12
Get a high school baseball assistant job while I still teach history at the middle school level
Attend a baseball coaching clinic once a year
Find a mentor with job like the one I want

Like I mentioned above, it’s important to write your plan down and review it regularly.  If you haven’t looked over your career plan in six months, you’re probably due.  This is an important part of holding yourself accountable to the steps necessary in accomplishing your goal.

Finally, be flexible.  You don’t want to change your plans with every little change in your life, but you do need to be able to adapt your plan as you learn.  Too many people focus on making the “right” decision.  All we can do is make the best decision possible with the information we’ve got at the time.  But when we have more information, it’s important to make those decisions again, over and over until we reach our goal.

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