Career Planning: A Gift to Your Future Self
Are you happy at your job?
Research shows happy employees are more productive, and employers have taken notice; workplace happiness initiatives are now common. This sounds like a positive development, but there’s also evidence to suggest that an over-emphasis on workplace happiness might actually do more harm than good for the average employee.
Maybe “Am I happy at my job?” isn’t the best question to ask. Perhaps you should ask instead, “Is my career fulfilling enough?”
If the answer is no, get started on building a plan of action to make sure it is. Create a career plan as a gift to your future self. Imagine a world where your answer to whether or not you’re happy at your job is, “I’m happy with myself.”
That’s what a career plan can help you accomplish. Here’s how to do it:
Identify your skills and strengths
Your future self deserves to be successful, and it’s great to set goals. But your career plan also has to be realistic. Remember: It’s your plan. You’ll be the one making it happen. That’s why it’s important to take an honest inventory of your strengths and weaknesses before proceeding with pie-in-the-sky goals that may end up frustrating you later.
Think back on your past experiences; focus on times you did well, and times you struggled. Write a list. Drawing a blank? Ask a friend, relative or colleague for their insights.
Related: Get help identifying your skills with some of our previous articles: “How to Transfer Your Skills To A New Industry” and “What Are My ‘Soft Skills’ and How Do I Show Them Off?”
Learn which opportunities suit you best
For your future self to thrive, put them in the best possible position. Investigate favorable career options for the personal skills and strengths you’ve identified.
As you learn, remember that you’re not just looking at the destination, you’re also finding out more about the steps needed to get there: education, certifications and work experience.
You’ll need to draw on your strengths and skills throughout the journey. It’s also a good idea to take an honest look at the job market, and see where the opportunities are strongest.
Related: For more information about industries with good prospects for long-term growth, see a past article on the subject, “Opportunity Awaits: Long-Term Trends for Long-Term Career Planning.”
Decide on your path
What career track is best for your future self? You’re the best person to ask. And the best way to answer is based on your personal definition of success.
There are a lot of different ways people define success. Some value salary and earnings — inherent in finance and business positions. Others crave the respect of colleagues, an important component of organizational management. And others have a passion to advance a particular field, such as in research and science. Determine what’s most important to you. And consider which jobs or fields align with your priorities.
Make a plan of action
Now that you’ve got an understanding of what direction you want to head in, plan out the steps you’ll take to get your future self there.
Long-term goals are comprised of several smaller short and medium-term goals. For example, if your aim is to graduate with a degree in electrical engineering, before you even take your first class, you’ll need to:
- Meet requirements for application
- Apply to a degree program
- Secure financing to pay for it
- Decide on what courses you prefer
- Register for classes
- Attend orientation programs
As you build your action plan, keep each step in mind, and set smaller, manageable goals for yourself that are achievable and measurable. As you progress through your plan, you’ll always have something to focus on, and something to remind you of the larger goal.
Will a career plan make your future self happy? We think so.
But the happiness you find after following your plan is tied to more than just landing a job. It comes from the realization that you met your goals after dedicating yourself to a plan — a plan that you built.
What an incredible gift that could be.Don’t forget to ask for help along your journey. If you’re looking for a job, visit our job board to find your next great opportunity. Create a free career account today to customize your search. And consider reaching out to an Aerotek expert career advisor.