Your Terms, Your Action Plan

Career Blog

Published: April 26, 2021 by Jillian Collins

In February 2021, Kim Dority, our iSchool career advisor, gave an amazing presentation about creating and executing a personal career action plan. Action planning is a career – and life – skill. If you watch the presentation, you will see how actively constructing your career starts with actively knowing that small steps become larger leaps to greatness.

The Components of Your Action Plan

An action plan is on your terms. This is your objective. Your mission. And that means you’re in control, and actively investing energy that will move you forward in your ideal direction.

Action plans have three ‘headers’:

  • The Goal. When you think about goals, you are thinking about what it is you are going to accomplish. Whatever it is – it is what you want and will achieve. An example of a goal: To land a job as a user experience (UX) designer when you graduate.
  • Strategies. When you have a goal, you need to have an idea of what needs to be done to get to it. Strategies are precise and outline the steps that make up what you will do to reach your goal. Tackle this by picking three strategies matching your goal. Using the example goal, “To land a job as a UX designer when you graduate,” three strategic tactics might be that:
  1. You’ll master the necessary UX skills;
  2. You’ll learn more about UX design jobs;
  3. You’ll get to know people in the UX field, both inside and outside of the LIS universe. 
  • Tactics. These are smaller action items that go along with an individual strategy. Work tactics into the components that the strategies comprise. Consider what you can do on a regular basis and come up with three tactics that will work toward fulfilling your strategies. It’s important to stress that the tactics should be realistic, flexible and easily integrated into your regular routine.

Let’s look at the second strategy, “Learning more about UX design jobs.” Some potential tactics might be to:

  1. Read lots of UX job descriptions;
  2. Do informational interviews with UX practitioners;
  3. Find and start following UX professional groups, bloggers, and UX library communities.

By keeping track of your progress with your tactics, and then seeing how that moves your strategies forward, you’ll also see clearly how the goal you’ve set for yourself becomes an accomplishment.

As you think through your plan, remember that it is not a hard-and-fast regimen. It’s your plan, which needs to take into account that your life is going to have all sorts of unanticipated twists, turns, and obligations that may temporarily upend your plan. When that happens, remember not to judge yourself. That can be hard, but it’s an important tactic on its own!

A Community that Cheers for You

Reality can be full of detours, some of which can have a negative impact on your plans (and your emotions). In addition, that feeling of doubt that sometimes comes from outside perspectives and voices can derail you. While it’s easier said than done to ignore naysayers, what you can do is notice who or what is dragging you down – and focus on what builds you up, such as:

  • That cheerful group member you worked with a while back? Reach out.
  • The lovely park you have down the street? Take a break and go on a brief walk.
  • Received a glowing comment on something you did? Go back and re-read it.

By surrounding yourself with a community of positive people and experiences, you can build up your positive community, canceling out negativity.

Action Figures

I want to make sure to give credit where credit is due. Kim Dority made this post possible, with her action plan presentation, and her constant positivity and encouragement. I think that type of encouragement is the voice you should read this in. When you are thinking about what you want, you are really knowing where you want to be. When you see that those small steps add up over time, you see how you can navigate toward your career dreams on your terms.

The action plan is not a regime, but a routine of small things that become a big achievement. Action plans are flexible. Life always throws us curveballs, but you get to call the shots. Are others saying you should do something their way, which would conflict with and derail your dreams? Leave those voices behind, and instead take to heart that you have a community who wants you to succeed.

See yourself as an action figure – because your action plan is how you figured out to succeed.

Quick Jot from Jillian

I have worked hard to overcome the thoughts that say: “I can’t do this, so I won’t try.” This was always followed by some self-imposed justification. Always some variation of “I’m an idiot.”

But I’ve been working to see that my goals are ever-changing. I have gotten this far; failed and succeeded. I have refocused and focused. I have this big post-it board that I write out the big “to-do” list on. I cross out what I have done and the little steps it took that got me to cross out the bigger thing.

I have people who I have met that got me to this point, even if they don’t know it. I am talented and motivated to keep up momentum. 

My next action plan is to make a change. My current, and ongoing one, is to pay it forward.

Career Opportunities

Mark Your Calendar!

SAASC Happy Hour: Ask Anything!  Hosted by SAASC

  • Date: Tuesday, May 18, 2021
  • Time: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)
  • Location: Register here to attend this Zoom event

Library 2.021 Worldwide Virtual Conference – Reinventing Libraries for a Post-COVID World

Check out the Library 2.0 web page to learn more about this exciting digital event!

  • Date: June 17, 2021
  • Time: 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)
  • Location: Register for this exciting digital event on Eventbrite


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