Ready, Set, Go: Planning for Your Future Career
By Kathleen Brady
Trying to decide what college to attend, what to major in or what career path to follow can be very overwhelming. These are big life decisions and the fear of making a mistake sometimes paralyzes people. But take a deep breath and simply ask yourself, what do I really want to do? Don’t worry about what makes sense or what your parents or friends want you to do, but think about what YOU really want to do.
Allow yourself to dream. Dreams foster hope and open our minds to the possibilities. What might you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail? It is the fear of failing that paralyzes us from achieving extraordinary things. Be fearless!! Maybe your dream is to be an actor or president. Perhaps the dream is to be a doctor or teacher or entrepreneur. Whatever the dream is, embrace it. Then ask yourself what you need to do to make it come true. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish when you are clear about what you want and have an action plan in place to guide you.
Action plans make dreams physically real. Your dreams provide a long term vision of the kind of person you want to be and the kind of life you want to lead while your action plans allow you to lay out the small steps you can take today to move forward. Your action plan will include things like what courses you need to take to accomplish your goal and the kinds of extracurricular activities to pursue in order to build the skills and relationships you need. An action plan will allow you to make conscious choices and be the director of your own life.
As you think about your goals, make sure they inspire and incite you to action. If they don’t, they are not the right goals. Too many people try to alter themselves to suit their “should” goals. That is a bit like wearing the wrong size shoe because it goes with your outfit. It can work for a short time, but eventually it becomes uncomfortable and ultimately unbearable. The right goals outweigh any excuses you have to achieve them. Your passion and commitment to your goal will fuel your efforts to overcome any obstacle. Passion helps you think, “how can I” instead of “I can’t because…” That subtle shift will ensure your success.
Explore the world of work. There is a wealth of information about career paths on the Internet. Be curiosity as you explore where your talents and interests intersect with the marketplace’s needs. Visit http://www.bls.gov/ooh/occupation-finder.htm to uncover job titles, schooling or licensing requirements, salary ranges, types of employers, etc. Google, “careers in X” and read job descriptions to get a sense of the day-to-day functions. Look beyond entry-level jobs during the exploratory stage to learn about the advancement opportunities. Talk to parents, teachers and those in your field of interest to learn more. This knowledge will help you refine your action plan along the way as you continually add more steps in your journey towards your goals.
Most people spend more time planning a family vacation than they do planning their career or life. They chose a destination based on specific criteria about how they enjoy spending time after hours of research and selected the best route to get there. They packed a suitcase with everything they would need for time away to ensure a safe and pleasant journey. Why not apply the same process towards mapping out a career/life strategy? Think about what you like to do and where the best place to do it might be. Gather the tools you need (skills and education), plan for possible emergencies and you have a safe and pleasant journey.
Kathleen Brady, CPC is an iPEC-certified career management coach with more than 25 years of experience helping people identify and realize their professional career goals. In GET A JOB! 10 Secrets to Career Success (Inkwater Press, 2013) Brady shares her secrets for navigating the job search process from start to finish as well as practical exercises for job seekers at every level. GET A JOB! is available at Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, and other online retailers. For more information, visit www.careerplanners.net.