It’s the start of a new school year and an optimal time to craft a new career plan. For working parents, for people in academia, the year begins in September. (I am a former college recruiter and a parent.) In addition, we’re all refreshed from summer and ready to go!
It’s time for an assessment: How has your career changed since last year? Where do you want to be next September? If you don’t have a career plan in place, then you are choosing to let circumstances dictate your fate. But, if you’d rather choose more money, more growth, more freedom, more security or a combination of the above, then craft a career plan now.
If you are happy in your current job, then your career plan may not include any major moves, but should include basic career maintenance. Check in with your manager to outline upcoming assignments and get feedback on developmental areas. Keep networking. Work on your life outside of the job–solid finances, physical fitness, strong relationships, emotional fulfillment.
If you are unhappy in your current job, then plot a career plan to transition. This could be changing jobs within the company, looking for a new employer, going back to school, or trying a new career. A new job/ career search can be a full-time job in itself, so be prepared to scale back on other activities while you balance your current job and future job/career search.
If you are unemployed, then you also need a career transition plan, but with different constraints. You may have more time to devote to your search, but you may have more time urgency and less money. This career plan needs to balance traditional job search strategies with strategies for getting through a job loss.
If the entrepreneurial bug has bitten, then you need a business plan. Do you want to build a company or freelance? What kind of company do you build – product or service, small or large, something to keep or a quick sell? Whether you have a job or not, moving into entrepreneurship requires a plan for researching your questions, starting the business and growing it.
A version of this post originally appeared in my column for Forbes.com.