Why is a short Career Plan powerful? 3 reasons…

Getting a job in your 50s: a mature aged woman listing her career plan

    1. Because it’s simple and easy to create
    2. You get to the point, to what your goals are; you don’t clutter up your thinking
    3. It can be revised quickly as this world changes faster and faster

So many business owners have sweated blood for months to create a 50-page Business Plan. Just to have it end up forgotten in the bottom drawer. It’s exactly the same with career plans. So many career books say: ‘you’ve got to spend a day on this, and two days on that’ and where’s it going to end up? Which particular drawer in your desk or folder online? And the painful reality for most of us is we’ll never get started on it!

If you create a one-page career plan that’s easily updateable, you’re more likely to refer to it and hold yourself accountable. Then career success is way more likely.

One page can be updated every 90 days and stuck on the wall above your desk so you can focus on it. And if you start with one page, you might one day feel the urge to add a second!

Your One Pager just Needs…

1. Where do you want to work?

This is often the simplest to work out, but people often don’t consider it, and in particular, don’t discuss it with their partners. This is often the novice recruiter’s nightmare.

He’s found someone really good who’s in Melbourne, the new job is in Singapore, and they suddenly find out the candidate hasn’t even talked to his spouse. It’s a nightmare if this most fundamental question hasn’t been addressed.

So, where? Write it in the first section of your career plan. Note that if you are a mature age person with few ties, it’s quicker to put down where you don’t want to work. For everyone else, start with these questions:

  • Is there a special place/country you really want to live and work in?
  • Is your type of work available in such a place (be realistic)? If you’re not sure, ask your professional/industry body or the Chamber of Commerce in that locality and, if still interested, subscribe to the local paper online.
  • If you have no particular place in mind, what sort of climate, urbanity (city or country), people, areas (mountains/beach/trees) and lifestyle are you looking for?
  • Consider carefully any move to a regional area until you find out the reality of work availability. Recognise the reality of the limited resources and services in comparison to the city – and the dramatic lifestyle change that will result.
  • If considering an overseas move, do your homework before going. If offered a position in another country, ask to consult with employees of the company already over there – you need to understand what you are getting into.
  • Be open when considering what you want, don’t limit yourself. Ask where you would be if you had unlimited money and write it down. It may or may not happen, but if you don’t begin with the very first step… you won’t begin at all.
  • Consult, consult, consult with your life partner, children, family – they will be impacted by this move, so get them involved before wasting everybody’s time!

2. What do you want to do?

Ask yourself this question:

What aspects of a job would make you leap out of bed in the morning?

Think of these aspects and rank them. But think carefully, as it’s hard enough to do this for a job you currently have; even trickier for one you don’t have. So think freely and put down 6 aspects, and then cut this list back to 4. Consider:

  1. What gifts or skills you have to offer;
  2. What field or industry would you like to work in;
  3. What subjects do you love? What are your interests?
  4. How do you most like to work: mentally, physically, or with people? Ask yourself: What are you doing when feeling at your most motivated and enthusiastic?

Once you have made your list, check out the industry/job carefully with people who have that job. Too often, we have glorified perceptions of jobs that are not reality. Ask them what are the pluses and the minuses – write them down and carefully consider what applies to you.

3. Which company do you really want to work for?

Once you’ve completed Point 2 – and decided on what industry or field you want to work in, start researching the organisations/businesses in that field. Make a short list – 8 or 10 is about right.

Clearly, your list will change as you do more research into them and think more about your career – simply delete them and replace them with those you now want to target. For most of us, a short list creates enough options – too many, and you can’t do good research on them.

Consider these questions before you begin your career plan list…

  • Do you want to work with the industry leader or do you prefer a startup (security vs. more opportunities)?
  • Do you want to be part of a large group, or more visible in a small one?
  • Which companies have the ethics, attitude, vision, and social/environmental conscience most in alignment with yours (and take what their website says with a few grains of salt)?
  • Is what motivates you in line with what they offer – organisation culture; training options; and most importantly, their ethics?
  • Which companies have the products/services you would be most proud to represent?
  • Which companies have the best opportunities in regard to salary, promotion, and working conditions?

4. Why do you want to work? What Motivates you? I.e. What are your values?

This one takes some thought, but this simple exercise has helped many get started…

  • Imagine you’re 85 years old, and sitting outside on your deck in a rocking chair talking to your grandchildren. One asks “what are you most proud of in your life”?
  • What would you be proud to tell them? Just spend a quiet half-hour on this – the answer often leads to the values that drive you.

Answers might be: “I helped changed the way the industry worked (Toby: “This is my Purpose – to fix the horrific recruitment industry”); “I helped people with their careers and their networks”; “I was known as someone who helped people in my community”; “I loved my job, I loved what I did, absolutely”; “I never let my work get in the way of my family”; “I worked for a company I respected”.

The answer is often about something that’s measurable and concrete.

Sometimes the answers are bigger and more philosophical: that I made a difference, that I was known for changing the way things happened, or that I was well regarded in my company for the stand I took on moral issues. These are the categories of things we want to talk about when we’re 85. No-one on their deathbed is proud to say: “I made three hundred a year and got great bonuses”, or “I wish I’d spent more time at the office”.

This is about the things that you really want to achieve, and to discover whether you’re currently heading towards them.

How do you achieve these things? What I have learned (and continue to learn) is that there’s no easy way to get somewhere of value – you absolutely have to have a plan and goals.

And if you’re still stuck about what your values are, select the 10 most important ones from the list below. Wait a day or so, then cut these down to 6 and then to 4, and write them on your plan:

  • Creating/building things
  • Being challenged mentally/problem-solving
  • Physically demanding/challenging work
  • Balance between work and family life
  • High degree of competition, challenge and excitement
  • Integrity and truth in business dealings
  • Stable and secure work
  • Strong financial rewards
  • Being publicly recognised for the quality of my work
  • Having a positive impact on others, society, the environment
  • Being innovative/creative
  • Decision-making, having the power to determine courses of action
  • Deadlines and time-focused challenges
  • Opportunities for leadership, influence and power
  • Freedom and flexibility in work structure
  • Being acknowledged as an “expert”
  • Order and structure
  • Being rewarded for loyalty and dependability
  • Self-respect and pride in work
  • Undertaking precision work with little tolerance for error
  • Novelty, variety and fast-paced, exciting work
  • Professional growth, development, and learning
  • Friendships and warm, respectful working relationships
  • Good teamwork and workgroups
  • Glamour, prestige, respect
  • Social kudos/status
  • Predictable work environment
  • Clear routes of promotion and advancement
  • Peaceful, tranquil, comfortable work, with little pressure
  • Regular contact and dealings with the public
  • Being involved in cutting-edge technologies or processes
  • Respect, recognition, being valued
  • Having autonomy, independence, freedom.

Are the 4 core values you selected present in your current job? Can you change it so they are? If not, time to start carefully planning a career change.


  • Actions now – what actions can you take in the next days/weeks towards your goal/s?
  • Actions in the next 3 months – what is required in the next few months?

At the very bottom of the Career Plan is space for your Network Targets. The people and groups of people such as industry associations, who you need to network with.

Is all this work worth it? Particularly if you are heading towards the end of your career? Yes and Yes!


The mission of the Stable and Wise Community…

To unite unprejudiced employers with Mature, stable and motivated employees

“Age is just a number, a number & no more. The experience, maturity, wisdom an older person brings to an organisation is immense & can never be replicated.” Jacqueline Perera, LinkedIn.

Want to join the Community and get access to our Job Seeker book and free

Webinars? And stop dealing with recruiters and their prejudices, then…

Register here

If you personally have not suffered, then perhaps let a friend know about this community – we all know people who have applied for jobs and suffered the deafening silence.