THREE weeks of the new year have gone by — are you successfully following the plan that will help you achieve your career goals? Or are you still thinking about what you want to do for 2011?

If you fall into the latter category, act now — take stock of where you are in your life and career. As Socrates once said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

No matter how caught up you are with new assignments and commitments, do set aside some time to reflect on the 5Cs of career management.

1. Change

If you do not want to move from your comfort zone, preferring to just maintain the status quo, do take a hard look at yourself and explore what you should do about it.

The corporate game has changed and will continue to do so. If we players do not adapt, we will soon be out of the game. Embrace change and try turn every situation into an opportunity.  

2. Careering

A modern-day career thinker (careerist) needs to be more self-directed, initiated and strategic about managing his career. A careerist is one who controls the future rather than be controlled by it. He has the courage to envision the ultimate version of himself and to bring that vision to life.

These days, it is not about whether you are employed. Rather, it is about how employable or value-adding you are to your employer.

Work on how you could potentially exceed expectations. Be hardwired for challenges and boost your own as well as your employer’s performance.

3. Coaching

Coaching is a collaborative partnership between the coach and a willing individual. It involves the coach conducting meaningful conversations with the coachee to build on the coachee’s preferred future.

One of the greatest myths about coaching is that successful people do not need coaches. Like any other successful leader, CEO or sportsman, there will always be another challenge to master and another game to win. 

Part of the job of a good coach is asking the right questions to help maximise the coachee’s performance. The best answers are usually those that the coachee comes up with, as such decisions are ones he can live with for a long time.

Before you engage a coach to bring your success to the next level, here are some questions for you to reflect on:

    * How do you measure success?

    * If there’s one thing you would like to change, what would it be?

    * How committed are you in making the change?

    * What is stopping you from making the change and how will you overcome these obstacles?

    * How do you know you have arrived at success and how will you celebrate?

    * What is the first thing you will do now?

4. Connection

Networking is one of the most effective avenues for career progression. It is not what you know or just who you know, but more importantly, it is about who knows you. Not many of us are comfortable with networking but I am glad to share that networking can be learnt.

Before you go for your next networking event, ensure that you are prepared to tell good stories about your strengths and achievements. Stories connect, are convincing and create impact.

5. Concentration

What separates successful and non-successful people are focus and action. Simply put, if after reading this article you find that there are areas you could potentially benefit from but do not act on them, you will still be at ground zero until you launch yourself into accountability. What is preventing you from being focused and taking action? Ask a friend, close colleague or mentor to help you take the first step forward.

A well-deserved bonus

Your year-end bonus is in the bank, but another bonus awaits you if you take the 5Cs of career management seriously and integrate them in your life: the sixth C — Confidence!