You’ve checked all the boxes in your list. You’ve graduated from the college of your dream, done your internship, and landed the right job at the right company. However, instead of following your own dream, you have chosen to pursue the direction that everyone else has instructed you to pursue, which will lead to success — to your dream job — only to find that your dream job doesn’t feel so dreamy after all.
The good news is that you’re not alone. Across every generation, the awareness that success has not brought the desired happiness has created a moment in which discussions about meaning, fulfilment, and satisfaction reign supreme.
Having a rewarding career depends on following your own idea of professional success. Otherwise, you’re likely to spend your days trying to live up to the standards of others or moving from one job to another.
Of course, success itself means different things to different people. For some, it’s a matter of earning more money and climbing the corporate ladder. For others, it’s more about stretching their skills and contributing to society.
You don’t want to spend your precious days trying to live up to the expectations of others or mindlessly drifting from one job to the next. It would be best if you determine your own definition of success.
For others, it’s a matter of making more money and climbing up the corporate ladder. For some, it’s all about developing their expertise and contributing to society. And for some people, it’s about going to retire at a certain age and travel the globe on a cruise ship.
Make your work life more satisfying and build accomplishments that you can be proud of. Use this checklist to plan your future and put your plans into action.
Planning for Career Success:
- Identify your strengths
Think about your talents and how you can apply them. Do you like working with numbers, or do you have a passion for design? Browse online for aptitude tests that will suggest careers that suit your personality.
- Set specific goals
Create your version of the Vroom’s Expectancy Theory, in simple terms this theory states if I do “X,” I will get the “X” reward or an “expected” outcome.
Industrial and Organizational psychologists love to utilize this theory in the workplace to evaluate what motivates workers.
Develop goals that will inspire you and allow you to assess your progress. Give yourself practical short and long-term goals that are demanding yet achievable. A SMART goal is used to help guide goal setting. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Therefore, a SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goal.
SMART goals are:
Specific: Well defined, clear, and unambiguous
Measurable: With specific criteria that measure your progress toward the accomplishment of the goal
Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve
Realistic: Within reach, realistic, and relevant to your life purpose
Timely: With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target date. The purpose is to create urgency.
- Address obstacles
You may find that you need some additional resources to complete your goals. Figure out what’s holding you back and how you’ll overcome it. You can hire a coach, seek counselling, take a class, or read a book.
- Consider your brand
What makes you unique? Why would someone hire you? What differentiates you from the crowd?
Understanding your personal brand will help you promote yourself. You’re going to know what you stand for and the target you’re trying to meet.
- Think ahead
Career planning is an ongoing process that requires more than keeping your resume updated. Review your job status regularly to decide if it’s time to make a change.
- Write it down
Put your career plan down on paper. You’ll be more likely to keep your strategy in mind instead of letting it get buried under daily events.
The act of writing is like zen to your busy mind, and research shows that you are more likely to recall things you write. Taking the time to write down all your schedules, responsibilities and goals every day is worth every minute you spend.
It’s going to save you time the next day when you have a clear strategy, and you’re not trying to find out what needs to be done.
Implementing Your Career Plan:
- Manage your time
Block out spaces in your calendar for events that are important to your goals. You may need to cut back on distractions like watching TV or shopping online.
- Build your network
Build a strong network through which you can share practical and moral support. Tell someone to support you when you need it. Be proactive in exchanging knowledge and referrals.
- Learn from others
Benefit from others’ expertise. Find a mentor or become a shadow of a star employee in your organization.
- Build your qualifications
Seek opportunities for education and training. Take certification courses online and check out the adult education catalogue at your nearest community college. Never stop learning.
- Negotiate compensation
Study current salary data when considering a new line of work or anticipating a job offer. Talk regarding fringe benefits, such as child care or flexible hours, which are essential to you with your employer.
- Take risks
If you want to thrive at work, you need to step outside your comfort zone. Focus on incremental development that you can maintain, and gradually small wins will add up. Deliver a presentation at a staff meeting to prepare to address the audience at the annual conference.
- Stay positive
Your career will last 50 years or more, so an optimistic mindset will help you to stay positive. Look at the bright side of tough times and learn how to laugh at yourself.
Create a career that enables you to do what you love and achieve balance in your personal and professional life. Start planning today so you can make decisions based on your values and goals.