Planning your career for many can be an exhilarating and overwhelming process. It may invoke these feelings whether you are early in your career deciding where to begin or midcareer considering a new path. Either recipe includes a healthy dose of self-reflection and soul searching to help you make the choices that will lead to a fulfilling future.
When approaching planning your career it is helpful to focus on a few key things to help you set your course. Some of the key things will be your natural ability; personality, values, motivation and how all those intersect with your goals for finances, family, and overall standard of living. We will explore these in a bit more detail below to get you on your way.
The difference between a job and a career
This is probably a good point to mention that selecting a job may be a very different process than selecting a career.
For example I have had clients that were really motivated to pursue a career in one field but chose to take a job in a completely different line of work. Why you ask? Well this sort of situation may arise if you have a family & bills that can be paid by taking a job in a field you have lots of experience in and professional connections. The bigger picture direction of wanting to transition into a new field may need to be done in phases to not sacrifice your standard of living.
Your abilities and aptitudes
When considering what your career options may be one aspect will be identifying what your abilities and aptitudes. There are many tests that have been developed over the years that can help you better define these skills if you are unsure. For some it is pretty obvious that they have artistic, mathematical, reasoning, people skills etc. We all need to embrace the idea that everyone is not equally capable in all areas. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Usually, this is not an issue as we become more self-aware & we look to maximize our strengths rather than swimming upstream trying to do something for which we are not well suited.
One of the biggest factors that will determine your job engagement as well as satisfaction is your personality. These factors also help in terms of longevity, which is important since you will want to be mindful of avoiding burnout.
A good example of this concept would be considering the type of person who you would expect to be a really good salesperson. If you were to list their traits they would likely include such things as outgoing, positive, a goal directed person who really enjoys people. In fact you would be right that sort of personality profile is usually used when companies are selecting a candidate to hire for such a role.
On the other hand consider what sort of person might be good for a job as an accountant. You may list things like detail oriented, patient, and very good with numbers. You may even like them to be a bit creative but not too much as you would not want them taking too many creative liberty’s with your tax filings for example. In contrast to the salesperson you might not expect them to necessarily be as outgoing. Not that you need to exactly fit the mould to be successful or happy but you also don’t want to be in an environment that is so much of a stretch for you that it is uncomfortable or sets you up for frustration.
Your values & motivations
Related to your personality would be your values and motivations.
Consider finding a job description that involves all the things you really enjoy doing and happen to be really good at. Great you say moving on to look at the salary range & it exceeds what you had planned earning for your next position.
Then you scroll down & see that it is working for a tobacco company, detention centre, drug company, or religious organization.
For some they may shrug & get excited by working for such a long established large company.
If however, if you have strong opinions about what product or service that company offers due to some bad personal experiences you may choose to avoid the position entirely because the role conflicts with your personal values not because it is a bad position for you otherwise. There could be any number of situations that may conflict with an individual’s personal values so it is wise to reflect on how you may feel in some of the likely work environments for your interests.
Another soft factor to consider is what motivates you? Are you really looking for a role that offers leadership possibilities, do you really prefer an option that has the most stability or are you driven by praise, satisfaction of helping others or financial rewards? There isn’t a right answer only the one that is right for you.
When helping someone sort out where they go from here I often have them bring in info on school reports, university courses, resume, and maybe performance reviews to help them discover what transferable job skills can be used to move them forward. Depending on the situation some more formal career assessment may be useful as well.
Career change and transition
For those who are looking at a career change due to redundancy or termination we may also need to do some work to help keep your spirits up throughout this transition period.
Some of my clients have been able to really embrace the opportunity that being fired offered. For some they end up focusing on reaching the next rung on the corporate ladder. While being motivated is great it is also useful to step back and question if you are on the right ladder in the first place.
It has been really great to be able to see fathers make career changes that allowed them to still provide the financial security they desired but also offered flexible work hours for example so they could meet another life goal like spending more time with small children, coach their child’s soccer team, creating a way to incorporate a hobby like building into an overall career move.