As your career goals evolve from your 20s to your 60s, so should your strategies.
Like life in general, career planning can be different depending on your age. While some of the strategies to achieve goals may be the same throughout your life — effective communication, for example — the goals can be distinct. Here is advice from career and leadership coaches Freda Marver, Leonard Lang, Meredith Moore Crosby and Cindy Edwards.
In your 20s
• Exploration is key while financial obligations and family ties are not as substantial.
• Gain experience within your field. Ask for different types of assignments. Ask to work with different people. That way, you can test what type of position you would like.
• Find mentors; learn to recognize a good boss.
• Find good networking groups to learn more about your field or about leadership in general.
In your 30s
• Learn how to change work rhythms to achieve work/life balance.
• Don’t be afraid to look for a new job for better opportunities or more money.
• Figure out your long-term goals, if you need more education to achieve them or if you need to switch careers or employers.
• Take advantage of your networking groups both in person and on LinkedIn. Ask trusted members to keep you up to date on job opportunities within their organizations.
In your 40s and early 50s
• Evaluate what leadership training or advanced education such as a certification or master’s degree would help move you up the ladder.
• It’s OK to grieve what might have been in a career that you didn’t pursue.
• Sometimes making a lateral move within a company is the challenge or change you need.
• If you have to change jobs, think about what skills you have so you can articulate them to a job coach and see how they fit other fields.
In your late 50s and 60s
• Figure out an exit plan for your career. Do you want to keep moving up the ladder and then do a hard-stop retirement, or do you want to taper off to part-time work before retiring completely?
• Evaluate whether mentoring someone else would add satisfaction.
• Think about what you want to achieve before retiring, for example, a certain type of project or volunteering for a task force at work.
• Evaluate finances to see when you can retire at a comfortable level.