Career Planning — A 5 Step Process

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“Managing your career is not a one-time decision but a series of decisions made over your lifetime.”

~Strong Interest Inventory Report

Career planning is not something many people do, including me; of course, as a child, I had dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I never had a plan and reality is something completely different. Luckily, career planning can happen at any time.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, very few people will have a job from cradle to grave and most of us will work in more than one field over time and so career planning can be a lifelong evolutionary process. As our lives, needs and interests change career planning can help us prepare and plan for not only initially entering the workforce but also for future job changes or entire career changes.

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Here are five things you can do at any time in any situation to help you not only plan but get on the right path.

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Evaluate — Understanding your interests, talents and values are essential. You may not know what you want to do yet, but if you can decide what you don’t want to do you will be able to narrow things down.
You may already have a career, but thinking of making a change or you are faced with a change you didn’t expect. No matter what the case you can evaluate or re-evaluate your interests, talents, and values at any time.
Consider that someone who enjoys the company of others is probably not going to be happy working alone and if you don’t care much for children working in a daycare is not going to be the thing for you. It may also be that you liked something when you started but now require a change.
Explore — Once you have found those things that fit your interests you can start to explore what it will take to get there such as education, training or basic experience. Will it provide what you need to maintain or improve your lifestyle? You may also be able to eliminate some things as a result.
If you have a career and want to take it to the next level do those opportunities exist where you’re at or will you need to change companies? Can you get the training or experience where you are or will it have to come from someplace else?
Decide — Next, you have to decide what you are going to do; which path are you going to pursue? It’s important to commit, but it is also important to remember that just because you choose one thing over another now, you may take a different path later on and having identified options will help you with that.
Goals — Now it is time to set some goals. This may mean education, training or getting that first job. Break it down into manageable time driven pieces. If it is education when will you enroll, how long will it take, and what will you take when? If it is getting that first job how long will it take to get a resume, have the right wardrobe, start applying and when do you want to have that job by? Goals will allow you to measure your progress along the way and make adjustments. They will also help you stay focused and not become overwhelmed.
Implement — If you are reading this you are probably thinking about it already, so go ahead, sit down and do number 1 and you are on your way. Don’t get discouraged along the way and remember that you may need to make some changes because life happens.

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