6 Steps to Create Your Own Career Development Plan (when you’ve hit a career plateau)

create your own career development plan
photo by CreateHerStock, designed by ManifestYourself.com

In nearly every professionals career, there is a time where you start to feel like you’ve plateaued and hit the proverbial glass ceiling. In my work as a career + leadership development coach, I see this frequently with high-achieving professionals who’ve been in their role for a minimum of 3 years.

Instead of staring at the clock wishing it was 5pm, and it’s still saying 9:30am; it’s important that you take control and change the direction and narrative of your experience. Here are my 6 steps to get unstuck, beat career plateau, and create your career development plan.

1. Make a conscious decision to spend more time working on yourself.

We spend 40+ hours at work each week, and many of us cannot say that we spend even 4 hours a week working on our own personal and professional development goals. We end up focusing our energy on the situation vs our own experience which we are able to control.

You cannot control your boss, co-workers, or even your workload, but you can control your thoughts, reactions, and actions taken. Back in 2012, I had an unsavory conversation with a former supervisor that literally changed the trajectory of my career. Prior to that time, I believed that my supervisor was supposed to make sure I was considered for salary increases, invite me to participate in new projects, and look out for my overall development. I learned a hard lesson that this was NOT the case.

Only you can take full responsibility for your own personal and professional development. It’s critical that you invest in experiences that will provide you with the education you need to excel in your career. This can be books, classes, trainings, workshops, retreats or conferences.

2. Don’t get stuck on the long term vision.

Building a career in 2019 is very different from building a career in 2010, 2000, 1990, or 1980. There are even new job functions and titles that are less than 10 years old now.

When we are thinking about creating our own career development plan, generally we skip right to our long term goals and completely forget about the work that must take place in the middle of where you are now, and where you envision yourself in 10 years. The middle, in my humble opinion, is where the magic happens. You must outline a combination of step and incremental changes you can make that will move you closer to the long term vision.

And along the way, you’ll hit new milestones that should be celebrated; there’s no need to wait until you hit the final destination.

3. Find the need or gap in the workplace where you can make an impact

As an entrepreneur, you’re taught that your product or service must solve the problem of a customer in order to be profitable. Without having a problem to solve, there’s no way to market your product or service. However, I find that professionals rarely think of themselves as a product or service to a company. We market ourselves as hardworking, team players but organizations need employees who are able to solve complex problems and increase the efficiency of the company.

I find that professionals generally fall into 2 categories; a specialist or a generalist. A specialist has a defined skill that they bring to a work environment while a generalist is a jack of all trades. Both have positive and negative attributes, but what’s most important is how it relates to your professional brand and the solution that you provide to the company.

Once you get clear on your natural talent, skills, and interests (the next step in this process!), you can hone in and determine the skills that you’d like to magnify in your career development plan to solve the problem of a company. And remember, the need or gap that you are “solving” for the company doesn’t need to have a catastrophic level of impact; it just needs to be marketable.

how to create your own career development plan
photo by CreateHerStock

4. Determine your natural talent, skills, interests and then FOCUS

One of my favorite exercises to do with clients is a skills assessment. Sure, I know that there are TONS of assessments you can take to determine what your skills may be based upon your personality, but I like to look at your past experiences to see what skills you currently possess that may be of assistance as you create your own career development plan.

When you think about all of your past work experiences, you should be able to compile a list of 5-10 skills that you’ve developed over time. The key here is deciding which skills you would like to maximize in your career and where you may need to do some additional work.

Part of creating your career development plan is also knowing where you may need to brush up on your skills and invest in personal and professional development. If the skills you’d like to magnify are aligned with the problem you’d like to solve in your industry – you’re ready to go! But if the problem you’d like to solve in your industry requires a different skill set, it’s time to start investing in your development to ensure you’re able to be competitive in the workforce.

5. Build relationships that matter

By now I’m sure you’re probably tired of people telling you the importance of networking. Despite the fact that most professionals know the importance, many still just don’t do it. During the first week of May, I attended the 2nd annual #MTYRetreat by Myleik Teele in Cancun, Mexico with 130 black women from all over the world. While I shared some of my notes in a recent blog post, there was a concept that related closely to career and leadership development that I expanded upon on LinkedIn I expanded upon on LinkedIn.

Accelerated collisions

Have you ever heard of this term before? I hadn’t until Myleik shared this with the audience when explaining the experience she’s created and why. Accelerated collisions are so much more than networking; it’s an experience where people are able to connect and the process to establish the relationship is expedited so both parties can immediately receive value. At the retreat, Myleik curated a room of professionals and entrepreneurs who were pre-screened and primed to build optimal relationships; so it was a room ready for accelerated collisions.

After the retreat, I outlined a 3 step process to prepare to find opportunities for accelerated collisions that would work for any professional or entrepreneur. You can read more on that here. But I share this because we need to move away from free or $25 networking events that we HOPE will be impactful, and start intentionally looking for experiences where accelerated collisions will happen. You may have to make a larger investment, but you’ll also receive a much larger reward.

6. Take actions – DAILY

In nearly every speech I give, end my talk by sharing the importance of becoming relentlessly consistent in order to achieve your goals. When it comes to career development – no one is going to care more about your career than you. Working in talent acquisition and helping my clients achieve their goals across dozens of industries, I see this more than ever.

Many professionals stay put because they have a great boss who would appear to have no interest in leaving the company… until they surprise you and leave for a better opportunity and you’re left trying to figure out your own next steps. Or professionals stay in dead end jobs because they are afraid of what the “other side” may look like. What you need to be afraid of is sitting in the same exact place, day after day, month over month, and year over year complaining about the same workplace environment that doesn’t align with your goals – meanwhile – everyone around you is moving and shaking.


I hope you enjoyed this post and it’s allowed you to start creating your own career development plan. 

I also want to share that I’m writing a book titled “Next Move, Best Move: Transitioning to a Career You’ll Love” and as part of that, I’ll be sharing a mini workbook to create your own career map in soon. It’s almost done – but if you want advance access to it when it is available – I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter so you’re the first to know. You can subscribe here

Now, get to work and start working on your own career development plan.