This editorial was originally published on July 14, 2010. It is being re-run as Steve is on holiday.
When we go to upgrade an instance, most of us have a process. We have a list of things we need to do, things like perform a backup, copy files, apply patches, etc. There is some definite order to what we do, and the most successful people I know in technology take the time to actually write out a list of steps to be sure they don't forget anything, checking each item off as it's completed.
Why don't we do that for our careers? Arguably that's more important than some silly old server.
One of the presentations that I give at user groups and SQL Saturdays is my talk on The Modern Resume. I talk in there about some of the things that you can do to raise your profile, build a personal brand, and become more likely to get that next job. However I haven't really addressed the making of a plan, which is something I need to add after I saw this link on a personal development plan posted by Brian Kelley.
A personal development plan is a map for your career. A map that's unique to you and what you want to accomplish. Whether that's growing your skills in some area, getting a new job, or something else, the plan you build can help focus you and allow you to move clearly in the direction that's important to you.
It's hard to build a plan, harder to stick to it, but perhaps hardest to figure out what to write downin your plan. I'd suggest that you start with some short term goals, things that will make your job easier, or provide your employer a short term payback. This is often low hanging fruit, and can help get you thinking about your career. Then move on to longer term, or larger, goals that fit the place you want to be in a year or two.
Don't neglect your career as you grow. Give it at least as much attention as you gave that last server migration. You deserve that much from yourself.