The First Career Performance Plan

“It’s like I’ve landed on the moon and you’re asking where I want to go next,” I said to my manager. It was the first month into my first remote ID role, and she wanted to know my career goals. Several cohorts later, I now have hired mentees reaching out to ask me for help with the same thing. “How the heck am I supposed to develop my annual goals or write a professional development plan!? I know what I want to do. But no idea how to make it ‘corporate enough.’” For all those on the Moon, here’s what I have figured out so far (plus some resources).

That First Career Performance Plan 

“It’s like I’ve landed on the moon and you’re asking where I want to go next,” I said to my manager. It was the first month into my first remote ID role, and she wanted to know my career goals. “Truthfully, I have so much healing to do. I want this first year to be all about renewing my relationship with Rest.” 

To her credit, she spent that year gently reminding me not to work when I was sick, encouraging me to take PTO, asking me about coping and rejuvenation strategies, etc. She was instrumental in helping me trust I was in a psychologically safe space and embrace Rest. Even though I don’t work with her anymore, we’ve become good friends, and we still have virtual coffee chats. 

Now I’m in the wonderful position of having hired mentees who find themselves in similar conversations with their managers. “How the heck am I supposed to develop my annual goals or write a professional development plan, Mandy? I’ve never been here before.” Or “Mandy, I know what I want to do. But I don’t know how to write that for corporate. Help!”

For all those on the Moon, here’s what I have figured out so far:  

Goals are structured and timed differently at different companies. 

In one role, I had to make yearly goals and break them down into quarterly goals. In another role, I had a yearly goal and a 6-month check-in. Even if your company has one formalized method, fit it into what works for you. If you have to write annual goals, but quarterly ones work better for you, break them up. I found the Quarterly Goals to be the most helpful for me. Here’s a resource if your company doesn’t use that method. (By the way, if you’re a freelancer, this resource may also be useful for your business goals too.)

Goals often connect back with your team, department, and company. 

In my experience, the company has a vision, which directs its goals. Those goals are sent to the leaders who write their goals, making sure to connect them to the company. Those leaders then share out and everyone connects their goals to that.

Company Goals → Department Goals → Manager / Team Goals → Your Goals

You can have your own goals too, but the more your goals connect back to your team and company’s goals, the more support you’ll have. So if you aren’t sure where to start, ask your manager for their goals and ask how those align with the company’s.

Goals align with your job. 

Transitioning teachers see “professional development and career plan” and hear “even more than what you’re doing now.” And while that might be the case for a lot of K12 spaces, healthy corporate culture tends to want your goals to align with your job, maybe stretch yourself some, but align for sure. One of my first goals was “Understand my role within the larger ID team.” Right now one of my goals is “Increase associate capabilities by creating and delivering high-quality learning experiences.” Yes, there are more details to this goal than just one line, defining what kinds of learning experiences I want to develop is a big part too.

Goals that integrate the team's needs with your development are more impactful. 

This isn’t to say that you have to make your goals all about your team. But if you want to learn how to use Storyline and your team doesn’t use Storyline that much, maybe a way to support both is to create a library of interactions for your team to leverage. You learn the tool, and they get another resource. Plus, making goals that support your team gives you a means of measuring your impact for raise, bonus, and/or performance conversations.   

Goals that focus entirely on credentials can be less impactful. 

These are easy to measure success-wise. You either earn the badge, certificate, or degree or you don’t. But measuring the impact on the business will be more difficult. Yes, you can make the argument that you are more qualified for your role and thus need to be compensated accordingly, but what you do with that learning will matter more than just having it. So try to find a way to apply your learning too. What if you earned a credential and then presented what you learned to the larger team to keep from having silos? What if you want to earn your IDOL courses Academy’s Storyline Badge and create the interaction library for your team? Apply learning in some way that benefits everyone. 

Goals can pivot and change with the business. 

Let’s say you make a goal to “Develop learning personas for team use” but then something happened that got in the way of this goal. That doesn’t mean you failed. It means you prioritized. In a lot of companies, you can go back and rewrite it to reflect how you had to pivot and/or move this goal to a new quarter. You can and should shift goals to meet business needs. 

Finally, you don’t have to climb a ladder. If you want to, cool. Remember the skill gap analysis you did when you wanted to become an ID and do that for whatever role you’re pointed toward next. But it’s perfectly valid and acceptable to settle into your role, heal from burnout, and find a healthy balance for your life before you start making space travel plans. 

Remember why you chose this career field and why you made your transition. It might have been for the dream job, but I’m willing to bet it was more about having a dream life. Set goals accordingly. 


💜Mandy Brown (she/her) is a fiercely neurodivergent, trauma-informed, all-boats-rise kind of person. You can see some of her work here, and she’d love to connect on LinkedIn. 😉

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