Career planning might sound boring. Like planning out who you should fall in love with and marry. It takes away the thrill and the adventure, but I think you’ll see in this post that there’s plenty of fun still left.
Starting with a career goal in mind helps you make choices along your career path in sync with those goals. If you don’t have a goal, you won’t know what work experience or short term choices will help you get where you ultimately want to be in the long term.
Career Development: Achieve Your Goals
Your career development, the process through which you figure out your career path, should be an active one where you set goals for yourself. However, most people treat their career path less like a challenge and instead treat it more like an adventure. The two are very different.
Here’s what happens when you treat your career like a challenge.
Think of yourself as an athlete: You start with an idea in mind of where you are going. You have an action plan. You decide which career knowledge and skills are critical to develop. You may decide you want to go to college, graduate school, or get other education or training. Then you focus on your career experience. You do what you can to get yourself to the career goal you’ve set out. You recognize things shift along the way, including your own interests and goals, but you are in charge, and that fact makes you much more likely to be successful no matter what you decide to do. You can have fun along the way, but you have a sense of discipline in that you have your eye on the prize.
Here’s what happens when you treat your career like an adventure.
You’re focused on the short term over the long term, and while you might know the starting point, you have no idea where you’re going to end up – it’s all part of the fun! You gain work experience along the way, but you fall into jobs, never really knowing what is out there for you in terms of career possibility. Maybe you don’t have a job search plan, because you don’t have a plan. You’re always focused on your current situation. When it comes time for a job or career change, you wait and see what comes next. If it causes you anxiety, you try to push it away because you just don’t know what you should be doing.
Career Planning: Start Today
It may have been fun to watch your career unfold, like an adventure, or you may not have known what else to do, but now it’s time to start career planning.
It would be fine to continue to let things unfold if they would do so indefinitely, but they won’t always, and they don’t always end up doing so in your favor. You may end up in a situation that’s not the absolute best for you. The very best way to ensure that you’re in the career situation that you’re the happiest and most successful in is to decide what that is and then go after it. You must plan it and design it, not just wait for it to fall in your lap.
Seven Career Planning Tips
If you don’t want things to happen to you in your career, but instead you want to take control, this is how to do it:
1.Take a look at your work experience and use it as a starting point. Then think about where you want to be. Does there seem to be a next logical step?
2. Is there something you’re excited to do and could get your efforts behind and work towards, like it was a challenge? What could you invest in to create in your career?
3. What career tools do you need to make it happen for you? Do you need a resume or cover letters that reflect the work you have done or work you can do? What work experience or education would be a resume builder for you so that you could go on to do what you want to do?
4. Remember that career planning isn’t “set it and forget it.” You need to plan and then re-evaluate every 6 months to year or so.
5. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how late you start. Starting now is what matters.
6. Don’t just evaluate your immediate situation. Look at the job landscape and the types of jobs that are disappearing, the ones that are flatlining and the ones experiencing growth. You can find that information here.
7. Think about opportunities in your current company, if that interests you.
Career Planning: Take On The Challenge
Which way have you been approaching your career? Have you been viewing it as a challenge or an adventure? If it’s been an adventure, why? What’s stopping you from taking on the challenge? Do you worry you’ll miss out on the adventure of seeing what will happen next?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! And please share! Let others get the tools they need for their career too!