Below are 5 proven principles guaranteed to assist you and I in elevating our career planning.

Warren Buffet 5/25 Strategy

Warren Buffet according to Wikipedia is considered as one of the most successful investors in the world.

Buffet also has a net worth of US $89.9 billion making him the third wealthiest person in the world as at May 2019.

The 5/25 rule is Warren Buffet’s strategy to focus and  prioritisation.

According to the story, one day Buffet approached his pilot, Mike Flint. Flint was his pilot for 10 years.

From Buffet’s perspective, the fact that Flint had been working with him for 10 years meant that he was doing something wrong.

The following 3 step process is the advice that Buffet gave to Flint to plan his career path.

Step 1: List 25 Goals

The first step was to write down 25 things that Flint dreamed of accomplishing.

Step 2: Identify the Top 5 Goals

Next, Flint was asked to rant these in order of significance, circling his top 5 goals.

Step 3: Focus Only On the Top 5 Goals

Buffet asked Flint to focus solely on the top 5 goals that he circled. These will be the most important goals that he wanted to accomplish.

Buffet further asked Flint about his plans for the 20 goals that he did not circle. Flint responded that he will work on them from time to time while completing the top 5.

However, Buffet explained that everything that was not circled needed to be avoided at all cost.

Applying the 5/25 Rule to Career Planning:

According to Buffet the way to elevate your career planning is to identify your top 5 career goals. Once these are identified, focus only on your top 5 career goals until these are accomplished. Every other goal/activity is a distraction.

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule, according to Wikipedia is also known as the Pareto principle. Other names include the law of vital few or the principle of factor sparsity.

Joseph M Juran recommended this principle and named it after economist Vilfredo Pareto.

Pareto’s first published work in 1896 while at the University of Lausanne. His research revealed that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of its citizen.

Applying this principle to career planning:-

80% of your career achievements, will come from 20% of the actions in your career plan.

Therefore, the key factor will be to identify which actions should be considered part of the 20%. This is crucial as these will have the greatest impact.

SWOT Analysis

A useful tool that can benefit your career planning is the SWOT Analysis.

The acronym SWOT stands for:

                        S- Strengths


                        O- Opportunities

                        T- Threats

The SWOT analysis is usually plotted on four quadrants.

SWOT Analysis Example

Hereunder is an example of how the SWOT analysis can be used in career planning.


These are the skills and abilities that you have that make you unique and an exceptional.

Some questions that you can ask to identify your strengths:

  • Do you have multiple degrees which makes you versatile. As an example do you have a degree in marketing and information technology so you can work in both functional areas?
  • Do you speak a foreign language fluently?
  • Do you have work experience that differentiates you from others? As an example, have you worked in several different cultures?

If you are having difficulties identifying your strengths, then check out the Value in Action (VIA) Character Strengths free personality test.

This test was developed by psychologists Dr. Martin Seligman and the late Dr. Christopher Peterson. The results provide a list of 24 areas of strengths.


These are areas where you need to improve and refine.

Some of the actions that you can take to identify your weakness:-

  • Review your performance appraisals and identify areas that your managers view as weaknesses.
  • Ask peers and mentors for feedback.
  • Review current job advertisements and match your skills and abilities against them.
  • Leverage the power of LinkedIn and review ho your skills compare to someone doing a similar role in a different company and country.


These are the things that you can leverage to enhance your career.

Examples of opportunities may include asking the following questions:

  • Is there room for promotion in my department or organisation?
  • Are there opportunities for job enlargement, job shadowing or mentoring junior employees?
  • Are there new businesses launching in my field that I may be able to apply for a role?


These could be from within the organisation or general activities.  Some of the questions include:

  • Is there another colleague who has a strength that you cannot replicate?
  • Is there political/economic factors that can negatively impact your industry/ country?
  • Is there rapid changes in technology that can significantly alter the landscape of your industry?
  • Is fear holding you back from pursuing your big dreams/ goals?

We all have fears that we must overcome. However, if you believe that fear could be a major threat, a helpful tool to explore is the Fear Archetype by Ruth Soukup. Feel free to click the previous link to take the test.

The result of this test identifies your distinct fear pattern. The Fear Archetype identifies 7 types of fear. These were the procrastinator, the rule follower, the people pleaser, the outcast, the self-doubter, the excuse maker and the pessimist.

Personal SWOT Analysis Example

Here is an example of a personal SWOT Analysis of Elliott. He has been employed in XYZ Ltd for the past 3 years as the Finance Manager.


  • Analytical, quick learner and attentive to details
  • Has excellent rapport with the senior leadership team and colleagues
  • Well known in the local business community


  • Elliott is unable to speak a 2nd language
  • Due to personal commitments, Elliott has struggled to maintain his career development plan


  • The company is diversifying so there could be room for promotion


  • Despite the company’s growth, changes in global technologies could result in loss or revenue in some areas.
  • There could be layoffs as a result of the above technology changes.

The Marshmallow Effect

The experiment began in the 1960’s by Walter Mischel, a Stanford Professor.

The findings revealed which is now viewed to be the most important factor for success in health, work and life.

This critical factor is delayed gratification.

The experiment was carried out in 4 and 5 year old children. The researcher placed a marshmallow in front of the child and promised an additional one, if it was not eaten when he went away.

The researcher continued to track the children for many years thereafter. It was discovered that those who delayed gratification had better SAT scores, lower level of substance abuse and general life skills.

Furthermore, the researchers continued to track these individuals for more than 40 years. The results consistently revealed that those individuals who waited on the second marshmallow achieved greater life goals.

Applying the marshmallow effect to career planning:-

If you sacrifice watching television for one hour a day and allocate it to completing the actions in your career plan, then overtime your career will grow. Therefore, delaying gratification for a season could reap great rewards.

The Seinfeld Strategy

The Seinfeld strategy is all about consistency and was coined by popular comedian, Jerry Seinfeld.

The story behind this strategy goes like this:

One day Brad Isaac, a young comedian asked Jerry Seinfeld for some career advice.

Hereunder was the advice that Isaac said he received.

The best way to be a better comic was to create better jokes. And the best way to create better jokes was the write everyday.

Seinfeld then recommended that he got a big wall calendar and mark off each day that he wrote.

After a few days of writing consistency, a chain will form. The key responsibility of Isaac was not to break the chain.

Applying the Seinfeld Strategy to career planning:-

Identify an area/ areas in your career that you will like to improve, and devote time everyday to improve on it. Daily consistent action will lead to improvement and hence mastery. Don’t break the chain.

There are several career planning related articles on this blog which you may also find beneficial. Feel free to click any of the links below to explore:-

17 Free Career Aptitude and Personality Tests

The Importance of Career Planning

10 Questions To Creating a 5 Year Career Plan That Gets Results

The Importance of Creating A Career Vision

The Importance of Career Diversification

29 Awesome Free and Budget Friendly Online Learning Platforms

Final Thoughts

Hope these proven principles will help you and I elevate the planning and execution of the actionable steps in our career plan.

If you found this article helpful, I will be grateful if you can share it and leave a comment. For access to our free resource library with career templates, guides and checklists, click HERE to fill in the form. Thank you in advance for your support as I grow this blog.

 Proven Principles Guaranteed To elevate your career planning


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