How to Create Your Unique Career Plan

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How to Create Your Unique Career Plan

Psychologists tell us that once our basic needs are met – food, clothing, and shelter – in order to be truly happy we need work, love and play.  Well, there’s no argument to be made against love and play, but work?  A lot of folks might tell you that they could be perfectly happy without work - probably a lot more so. And it’s true, that for a lot of us, work is just what we have to drag ourselves through every day in order to afford the first three necessities - not to mention the countless other costs and expenses of modern life. (Alexander Graham Bell could never have imagined the size of a modern phone bill!)

But if you think less of work as forced labour and more as meaningful and fulfilling effort that you put toward accomplishing something that is important to you, then the good doctors have a point – that kind of work produces happiness. The big problem is that, in many cases, doing what’s important, meaningful and fulfilling to you, i.e. what you love to do, doesn’t always produce a pay check. So, in order to fund the three basic essentials, you have to spend more of your time doing something else, something you may not like doing quite as much – working.

But wouldn’t you agree that the happiest people you know are those who are actually getting paid for doing what they love to do? They’ve seemingly tied everything together. They have meaningful work, which they do because it gives them purpose and satisfaction, so it almost seems more like play; and what they do has enough intrinsic value that some employer is willing to reward them with a salary - which lets them take care of their basic needs and more. Those guys do have it made. And the reason is that they don’t just have jobs. They have careers.

So let’s go back to love, play and work for a minute. Love rarely has a plan – most will tell you it happens when it happens. As for play – sometimes you plan it and sometimes you don’t. But work – the kind of meaningful work that translates into a career – that takes a plan. More than that - it takes thought, effort, perseverance and a methodical approach. It also takes time. So whether you are just beginning to think about your future career or you are a mid-life worker looking for a career change, the following information is intended as a helpful guide in creating your own unique career plan.

Unique because it starts with you finding out what you love to do. This is the important first step. What are you passionate about? What activities or subjects get your juices flowing? Since there may be many different career paths that can provide you with the essence of what you love, you must first define, as accurately as possible, just what that is.

Second – do some thoughtful self-analysis. What are your strengths and weaknesses?  What are your skills and talents? What education milestones have you reached or are hoping to reach? Do you have management or leadership experience? Are you a good communicator? It might be both fun and informative to take a personality test in order to help you identify where you might find the most career happiness as well as quantify areas where you already excel.

Third – Start doing some research. Read about career choices in the field(s) that you most wish to pursue. Talk to people in those industries or professions. Consider speaking with a career counsellor or job coach. Determine what kind of education or training is necessary for different career. Analyze which career offers the best prospects for employment, i.e. which has the most value in the marketplace.

Fourth – Begin to envision the ideal career for you – what you will be doing, where you will be doing it, and how much you will be paid. You don’t have to have all the answers and you don’t have to be completely realistic. What’s important is that you are imaginatively creating the path that your body will soon follow. Remember, this is your unique plan for the career you will have for a long time.

Obviously, there are dozens of additional, practical steps you will take once you have chosen the road ahead. But taking the time to draw your own unique map will help you focus on the goal you truly want and how you expect to get there.

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1 comment:

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