Your career is like a ship and you’re the captain. You can drift along or take command to guide it in a clear and positive direction. These are some suggestions for setting your course and sticking to it so you so wind up where you want to go.
Setting a Course for Your Career
- Conduct a thorough self assessment. Think about your interests and skills. Consider what you’re good at and what you like doing. Maybe you like working independently or perform best when you’re part of a team.
- Research your options. Once you know what you want to do, look for occupations that match up with the profile you’ve created. You will probably find a number of choices. A love for teaching could lead you into academia or corporate training. Consult occupational directories or ask a librarian for assistance.
- Take career tests. Career testing is one way to get a better picture of your abilities. You can find many free programs online to get started. University campus career centers offer a variety of services or can guide you to other local resources.
- Interview people. Talk to people who are already working in your chosen field. They can share their first-hand experience and provide more perspective on the necessary qualifications, typical responsibilities, and employment prospects.
- Focus on priorities. Many people discover that they have multiple interests which may change over the years. Try narrowing your list down to three top priorities at a time to keep things manageable.
- Put your plan in writing. Make a written record of your goals and the steps you need to take to reach them. It will help you to chart your progress and spot areas where you need to do more work.
Sticking to Your Career Route
- Perform regular evaluations. This can be a lifelong project. One good habit is to update your resume at least every six months. Use that time to analyze if you’re headed in the right direction or need to make adjustments.
- Take on new responsibilities in your current position. Wherever you’re currently working, you can look for opportunities to grow. Give your supervisor a proposal asking to take on a new assignment.
- Keep looking ahead. Set both short term and long term goals. You may decide to attend three networking events in the next six months and get a more senior position within two years.
- Continue your training. Take advantage of opportunities to get more training and education. Some employers offer in-house programs or cover the costs for job-related courses.
- Find a coach. You might find it helpful to work with a career coach. This could be a paid professional or a supervisor or colleague willing to play that role.
- Do volunteer work. Volunteering is always a great way to give back to your community while broadening your experience. Find an organization you want to support and pick a project you want to learn more about, like accounting or events management.
- Develop a side job. Turn your hobby into an additional source of revenue. Over time, it may grow into a full time job doing what you love.
- Be proactive. Above all, take the initiative to figure out what kind of work will be fulfilling for you. Aiming for something you care about will keep you motivated and diligent.
Imagine looking back on your career with the satisfaction of accomplishing your goals and making a difference in the world. Planning ahead and making the necessary mid-course corrections will put you in charge and make your work more rewarding.