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Forget a Professional Development Plan. Do You Have an Impact Plan?

Forget a Professional Development Plan. Do You Have an Impact Plan?

Many of us in the social impact sector spend a lot of time trying to figure out our purpose: We want our work to contribute to something bigger than ourselves and serve others, while allowing us to play to our strengths and skills. However, once you have a sense of your purpose, you’ve only done one part of creating a career that gives back; now you have to take your purpose and put it into action.

Over on Harvard Business Review, Nick Craig, President of the Authentic Leadership Institute, and Scott Snook, MBA Class of 1958 Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School share steps on how to create a purpose-to-impact plan (paywall). While it is reminiscent of traditional professional development and leadership development plans that encourage goal setting, there are some key differences:

"Purpose-to-impact plans differ from traditional development plans in several important ways: They start with a statement of leadership purpose rather than of a business or career goal. They take a holistic view of professional and personal life rather than ignore the fact that you have a family or outside interests and commitments. They incorporate meaningful, purpose-infused language to create a document that speaks to you, not just to any person in your job or role. They force you to envision long-term opportunities for living your purpose (three to five years out) and then help you to work backward from there (two years out, one year, six months, three months, 30 days) to set specific goals for achieving them."

In order to create this plan, they recommend recommend crafting a purpose statement by answering three questions with a group of your peers to help you identify key themes, patterns, and stories that reflect your values. This statement will be at the center of your purpose plan. Then, identify two or three people who will help you live out your purpose.

What stands out the most about this approach is that while it demands that you identify your purpose, it allows flexibility in reaching your goals. For example, can you add one activity that is 100% aligned with your purpose? If you’re thinking three-to-five years out, what would you like to be known for and what steps can you take today that will help you get there? Additionally, their approach encourages thinking beyond work: How will you engage with your family and friends in a way that reflects your purpose?


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by Allison Jones

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