We all have different goals and mindsets about what we want out of life, and we equally want to get something out of our career as a stylist. As a young stylist I had some fairly general goals, and I had some long-term goals about the direction I wanted for my career. In fact I literally knew in my mind the exact path I wanted to take although I didn’t know how I would get there.

I can remember the early days like it was yesterday when I was making my plans for advancement in the industry. I can recall wanting to be the best at what I did, wanting to have a successful career, and wanting to be an industry leader. Another long-term goal was that I did not want to be get stuck behind the chair past the age of 50.

I cannot tell you why 50 was the golden age for me to put the comb down—just that it was the right age for me. I knew that I would manage a long career, be an entrepreneur, and teach, but I would not be standing behind the chair under any circumstances past that age.

I am now 42 years young, and despite a few bumps in the road, my career followed a path very much aligned with the general and long-term goals I set for myself in the beginning. I am now working on my 5-year exit plan to come from behind the chair, which means I will retire from physically doing hair for a living right around the age of 47 or 48.

In the past 25 years, I have learned how to seamlessly transition from one phase of my career to the next without missing a single beat. For example; I have been a braider, a regular stylist, and now, an extension and hair replacement specialist. Through each transition, my clients were not taken aback by the changes, and in most cases, I did it without them being affected.

When it came down to a service I no longer provided, I gave my clients an ample amount of time to find someone new before I completely cut the ties. When I decided to go into a new venture in hair, I would always communicate with my clients so that they would not feel left out in the dark or betrayed by a stylist in which they had put their trust.

Another aspect of my long-term plan involved being diverse. I was able to implement this throughout my career and take the necessary steps to make it happen. From the beginning until the end, even when I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing, the successful management of my career happened because of my strategic planning. I was explaining this concept to someone the other day when they asked me how it is possible to plan a career given the unforeseen things and uncertainty of life. My response was simple; although life is filled with the unknown and the unforeseen, when you plan, set goals, and work toward what you aspire to have, the curveballs of life won’t necessarily take you out.

Throughout my journey and even now, I don’t always make the money I planned to have, I don’t always make a set deadline, and sometimes I fall short due to a number of different reasons. Nevertheless, with proper planning (barring a devastation or trauma to my career), I will always bounce back and recover.

This bouncing back is the result of ONE important thing—planning–so that I wouldn’t be taken by life’s surprises. I may be a little shaken up, I may have to work with a revised plan, or I may have to sit back and just be patient.

So how is this possible? How do you plan a career? How do you map out a plan to have a fulfilling industry experience when so many don’t make it that far? I am going to share with you what I did and how I made it happen for me.

Forget what you think you can’t have, instead KNOW what you want. It’s very important to know. Once you understand what you want to get out of your life and career, you will have a glimpse of what it may take to turn that desire into fruition. For example; if you want to own a salon, have a beautiful home in the suburbs, and only work 4 days a week, and you want to this to happen by the time you are 40 or within 10 years, that’s a great start! You know that’s a big dream that’s going to take a lot of smart working, thinking, and sacrifices. You can begin to determine if this is something you even have the discipline and level of focus it will take to achieve such a goal.

Once you understand what you want, you will know it’s real based on how it moves you from within. This is the WHY. Why will you even consider working so hard and being so relentless in your pursuit? Let’s look at an example:

You want to reach your goal by the time you are 40 or within 10 years because you want to take care of and spend more time with your elderly mother. Or you want to send your daughter to private school and raise her in a safe neighborhood.

This would be a strong WHY, this would be the fuel to light your fire, and push through the toughest of times.
Once you understand the objective behind knowing what you want and why, you will be able to map out a plan. The operative word here is MAP.

It can only be done after knowing what you want, and it can only be driven by a strong motivating force. Your kids, your elderly mom, and any number of reasons can drive your WHY. It’s these reasons that make the plan so important. You can hope, pray and believe; but if you don’t plan and map it out, it will all fall on deaf ears.

The map in some way must answer the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW.

WHO benefits from the plan or goal? Right now we are being specific to the industry, but this can be applied to all things in life that you want to achieve. It can be accomplished by mapping out the plan. In this regard you are the WHO.

WHAT do you want to do? What do you want to achieve? What is the goal?
WHEN is this to happen? Are you planning for a long-term goal, or is this a plan you are working on for a short duration or even now?

WHERE is this to happen? Where are you now, and where do you ultimately want to be? And now we get to work on the HOW.

How do you plan to connect each of these steps? Even at this point of working your map, it might be required that you break down each step further with the same WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and then HOW all over again.

There are many intricate steps to planning, and they all start with the same steps and breakdown. Fear not because using the process, you will achieve your goals because you have identified your WHY before you even started working your process! Document your plan and revisit it often, making the necessary adjustments.

This is the basics for planning your career and your life in a strategic manner. Get with it, and live life fully—not haphazardly!
If you guys feel that this information is helpful, please let me know! If you would like for me to elaborate more, let me know that as well! I love hearing from you, so please give me more feedback on how I can serve you!