Career planning is not an activity that should be done once — in high school or college—and then left behind as we move forward in our jobs and careers. Rather, career planning is an activity that is best done on a regular basis — especially given the data that the average worker will change careers (not jobs) multiple times over his or her lifetime. And it’s never too soon or too late to start your career planning.
Tips to make career better:
1. Accept challenge
Through challenge you will reach areas of your personality you have never discovered before. It is a good idea to step away from your comfort zone to explore new horizons. If you settle into a routine and play it safe all the time, you will never get ahead in your career. ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll only get what you’ve already got’.
Career planning provides a great time to also examine the activities you like doing when you’renot working. It may sound a bit odd, to examine non-work activities when doing career planning, but it’s not. Many times your hobbies and leisurely pursuits can give you great insight into future career paths.
Think you can’t make a hobby into a career? People do it all the time. The great painter Paul Gauguin was a successful business person who painted on the side. It actually wasn’t until he was encouraged by an artist he admired to continue painting that he finally took a serious look at his hobby and decided he should change careers. He was good at business, but his love was painting.
Everyone makes his or her own job and career opportunities, so that even if your career is shrinking, if you have excellent skills and know how to market yourself, you should be able to find a new job. However, having information about career trends is vital to long-term career planning success.
A career path that is expanding today could easily shrink tomorrow — or next year. It’s important to see where job growth is expected, especially in the career fields that most interest you. Besides knowledge of these trends, the other advantage of conducting this research is the power it gives you to adjust and strengthen your position, your unique selling proposition. One of the keys to job and career success is having a unique set of accomplishments, skills, and education that make you better than all others in your career.
One of the really fun outcomes of career planning is picturing yourself in the future. Where will you be in a year? In five years? A key component to developing multiple scenarios of that future is researching career paths.
Of course, if you’re in what you consider a dead-end job, this activity becomes even more essential to you, but all job-seekers should take the time to research various career paths — and then develop scenarios for seeing one or more of these visions become reality. Look within your current employer and current career field, but again, as with all aspects of career planning, do not be afraid to look beyond to other possible careers.
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