Career Guides

CAREER PLANNING

By Jeff Rowe

What comes to your mind when you think about career planning? Many people aren't sure what career planning means. For our purposes we will define career planning as "A goal that you desire to achieve in a selected field or occupation with a well thought out plan to get you there."

  • WHY DECIDE ON A CAREER GOAL?

    A career goal helps you focus and make decisions on what you want to do for a living. It directs you, motivates you and helps you to accomplish what you want. A career goal helps you focus and make decisions on what you want to do for a living. A career goal can be a specific job-such as a clerk or teacher-or a career goal can be a particular field you want to work in, such as transportation or education.

    A career goal may help you discover your talent, skills and abilities and possibilities that you wouldn't have thought of. Many possibilities exist with any career you choose. Having a career goal can guide you to doing what you want to do in your life-rather than just aimlessly drifting from job to job.

    Once you choose a career, it would be to your advantage to think strategically about the steps you need to take to accomplish your goal.

    The future is unpredictable; however, you should still make career goals and plan the necessary steps to your goal.

  • EXPECTATIONS/DISAPPOINTMENTS

    With every goal there is an anticipated desired outcome. We call this an expectation. Our expectations help keep us motivated. When we realize our goal, we often feel joy and satisfaction.

    All of us have expectations and disappointments. In the process in thinking about our goals, we have to be prepared to have disappointments.

    Career planning is simply goal planning with the intention of setting goals for jobs and career.

    However, the only career planning you need is the one that is for you and your particular needs.

    Career planning is getting information, and with that information, you make a goal, and then plan the steps needed to obtain that goal.

    The world we live in works in certain ways. The more one knows how it works, the better one can achieve those goals by utilizing the processes that will give you the advantage. Career planning is simply goal planning with the intention of setting goals for jobs and career.

    In order to remain competitive you need to be as flexible as you can and continually increase your skills. Some things you can do are: go to school, take workshops or seminars, keep up with trade journals and talk to people who are knowledgeable in the field. Today, it's almost mandatory for us to take some form of training all through our career to keep up with the times.

    When I talk about training or skill, I'm not just talking about things like organization and time management, although these are important. However, stress management, problem solving, risk taking, and overcoming procrastination, to name a few, are equally, if not more important, to getting to your goal.

  • WHY IS CAREER PLANNING IMPORTANT?

    Let's suppose you choose a field. Career planning is not planning for that field on a one-time only basis, but it's a continuing process; in fact, you can call it a lifetime process. We are always learning and growing, and as we do, our interests and needs also change. Career planning is not just making plans to obtain your "perfect" job or career, but to help you make the many adjustments there will be along the way as you learn about you and your world or work.

    Career planning is estimating, predicting and calculating all the steps necessary to achieving your goals. In the process, you are always making choices. When you choose one alternative over another, this is called an opportunity cost. An opportunity cost is the cost of passing up your next best choice when making a decision. In career planning, we need to always be mindful of our opportunity costs and take into consideration all that will come our way. Those who have successful careers understand how the game of work is played. As you can see career planning is more than just looking at jobs and positions and working hard.

    The career planning process can be divided into six steps:

    • Self-Assessment
    • Career Exploration
    • Targeting
    • Career Preparation
    • Marketing Yourself
    • Career Management

    Career planning is a process and is always ongoing and often runs in cycles. When you desire change in your career, the process can be repeated many times.

    In planning your career, try to find the people who can be mentors for you and assist you along the way. Career planning is no different than any goal setting and planning. The difference is that you are specifically separating your career and job goals from all other goals you may have.

    The reason most people do not turn their wishes and dreams into reality is because they don't take these wishes and dreams and make them goals. A goal is a dream with a deadline.

    There are many reasons why people don't make goals for themselves. The biggest reason is they don't understand that the process of goal setting is a skill. All of us have made some goals in our life and achieved them. But most of these were not large or life changing goals like going into business, changing careers, becoming wealthy, writing a novel, going from office clerk to a top executive or becoming an expert in your field.

    The successful people set goals; they plan and follow the plan. Goal setting is a process and a learned skill with many parts to it. Simple, short-term goals may be done in your head, but more complex, long-term goals, should be written, evaluated and monitored frequently. The longer it takes to achieve your goal, the more you will encounter problems, changes and frustration.

    Goal setting is as much art as it is science. The more you understand the process and the more skills you acquire, the better are the chances in reaching your goal. By seeking your goal you will help build your self-esteem and self-confidence.

    Goal seeking is growth building. Goal planning is life planning. As you define your goal, it will define you.

    Life presents us with unexpected events all the time. So when we set out a goal we must understand that there may be many roadblocks to reaching a goal.

    Barriers that come up often cause a person to abandon a goal.

    Many people think that by writing down their goals, they fear they will lose their spontaneity or flexibility. Goals aren't rigid and once it's written it's cast in stone and one can't change it. No one knows the future. What you plan today can change dramatically in an instant.

    However, a well thought out goal can anticipate many otherwise barriers that would stop you. Barriers that come up often cause a person to abandon a goal. It's like running into a wall, and then you run away from it.

    Suppose you want to go from a clerical worker to a manager. Before you do anything further, ask yourself "Why do I want to achieve this goal?" You may say, "I want to achieve this goal because I want to have more status" or "I want to increase my salary" or "I believe I can be a good leader and this can help me achieve my long term goal of becoming a top executive in my present company or another company."

    Now ask yourself "Why is this important to me?" You may say, "It's important to me because I want to go as high up the corporate ladder as my talents and abilities will carry me." Then ask yourself, "Why is this important to me?" You might say, "Because I want to prove to myself and to others I'm an achiever and I want to have the prestige and status of a corporate executive."

    Ask yourself again, "Why is this important to me?" Try doing this for as long as you can. What you are attempting to do is get to the core reason of why you want to do something. This exercise will help you to clarify your intentions and goals. It will help you determine your motives and it may actually cause you to say, "Now I know what I truly want, which is status and prestige." By doing this you may see that there are other ways of achieving your goal besides being a corporate executive.

    It's sometimes easy to say, "I want this" when it might actually be something else you want. This can help you save wasted effort by making sure you truly want to pursue this goal. It will also help you with your motivation and determination when you can positively say to yourself, "Yes, this is truly what I want," and you will be more committed to this pursuit.

    In summary, many people are dissatisfied in their jobs and career. Career planning will help maximize your potential and satisfaction in your work.

    Having a career plan keeps you focused and motivated. It helps you to anticipate problems and barriers that may come and what you can do to avoid the problem or barrier, solve it and continue on, or it may point out your deficiency or weakness so you can get the skills or resource needed to deal with the potential barrier.

    Career planning will give you confidence that you are in charge of your career and life and you have the power to decide, act, and do what you want to accomplish your goals.