There comes a time in every person’s life when they have to decide which road to leave and which road to pursue. Choosing a career is one of the most daunting, as well as a crucial task in a person’s life.
Everyone wants to have a successful life, but unfortunately, not everyone finds it in their lifetime. If you are standing at the crossroads and you are clueless, you have come to the right place. In this article, you will get all the tips and tricks that will help you in planning your career.
Be it school or college, at every step, you have to envision the future in one form of the other. Ask yourself, why is career planning so essential? It is because society is so full of people who will tell you ‘go with the flow’. At the end of the day, you always need a plan to make sure you are going in the right direction.
Why is career planning beneficial?
In any student’s life, career planning is an essential step. It not only gives you the power to envision your future but also to think accordingly. Planning doesn’t require much time. Career planning is like a well-managed room whereas not planning your career is like a messy room. What do you prefer? Obviously, the former one. Let us understand the benefits of planning a career one by one.
1. Figure out yourself
One of the most crucial things in life is finding out what you really want and what you don’t. If you take out some time from the busy schedule of your life, it would help you in the longer run. Take out some time and list all the things you want to do or pursue. Then, list out the things you don’t want to do. That’s how you will get a rough idea of your true passion.
2. Save your time
Planning everything in advance saves you a lot of time, doesn’t it? The same thing goes for your career. You will realize it later in life. As you grow older, you will find it hard to keep track of everything, and in the end, you will join the bandwagon of the ‘go with the flow’ group. Don’t let that happen to you and plan your career to save your time.
3. A better ability to focus
Planning a career in advance prevents second thoughts and confusion from your mind. It lets you enjoy the present and doesn’t let you feel lost in life. With a proper plan, you can give full attention to all the things that matter to you. In a nutshell, there is zero wastage of time and resources in planning.
4. Make choices confidently
Making a deliverable career plan will make you a better decision-maker. Decision making is one of the qualities of a rational individual. Later in life, you will need this quality as much as you need it now. Better decision making helps you escape ordeals and find better alternatives to it.
Kudos to those who don’t plan their career but still get phenomenal success.
The 10 steps in career planning
Now that you have gone through all the advantages of career planning, it is now time to see it as a process. If you too want to plan your life this way, then cheers to making the right decision for your life. Here are the 10 steps to effective career planning.
The first step needs to be a monumental one. As you can see, here, you have to study yourself. It is where you need to find out your interests, dislikes, weaknesses, strengths, etc. It is like a SWOT analysis of yourself. To find answers, you first need to ask questions to yourself. You can ask some questions like-
- What do I love the most?
- What really motivates me?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses?
- What do I see myself in the future?
- What do I expect from myself?
This is a really nice way to know yourself. Some people think they know themselves, but the reality is exactly the opposite. After making a sound choice, you can take some free online tests that show you the probable career choices. For example,
123career test– here, you have to answer 15 simple questions. In the end, you have to give some details about yourself. Based on the choices, you will be given different career choices that match your interests.
Career Quiz by Princeton University- this is another free tool that will help you assess your career choice.
Many other free assessment tests give detailed reports on your choices. Moreover, you can also seek help from career counselors.
2. List out your career choices
After figuring out the possible career choices, it is now time to make a list. Yes, just like a to-do list, you can make a list of possible career choices that you are willing to pursue.
For example, if you want to work towards the upliftment of society, you can look up to career choices like social work, philanthropy, public health, etc. The same goes for other interests.
After taking the assessment exam, you might get a clear idea of the probable career choices you have in front of you. List out all of them and have a clear picture of your future.
3. Prioritizing choices
After listing out all the probable choices, you would realize that not all of them suit your interests. At this step, you can rule out all those choices you don’t want to go ahead with. These choices will leave you only with the career options you really want to pursue as a grown-up.
It can be a challenging task. You might need someone else’s help too. Don’t worry, seek out help from your peers, career counselors, the internet, and your parents. At the end of this process, you would be able to stick to a definite career choice.
4. Comparing choices
With all the few choices you have, now it is time to compare them with all the knowledge you have. List out all the pros and cons of the choices in your hand and keep everything in your mind.
5. Market research
Everyone knows how important research is. Be it a long essay or making a decent career choice. Without doing research, it is almost impossible to know all the possibilities. Therefore, research well, and then, conclude.
Here is an extremely useful career research resource by Google that you can use.
Other than that, you can also make a list of universities offering the courses you like. This process appears simple, but it isn’t. You have to give a lot of time to research everything from scratch. If you have a mentor, it is even better. However, if you don’t it is fine as you can find better sources online too.
6. Make a choice
After doing your homework in researching career choices. It is now time to stick to a choice that fulfills your interest in the best way possible. A career choice not only gives happiness and financial safety, but it also gives a purpose to your life. The final choice you will make depends upon-
Soft skills: People mostly pursue what they are good at. We should all do this, to be honest. You won’t see an amazing artist trying to become a lab technician or a pharmacist on purpose (unless he/she is totally clueless)
Ikigai: Ikigai is a Japanese concept that amalgamates your passion, mission, profession, and vocation, in one choice which is referred to as Ikigai. It is a beautiful concept that gives new dimensions to your career. Read this article on the BBC to know more about this concept and apply it to your life.
Financial status: How much your family can afford also affects the career you will pursue or the college you will get into. There are a lot of hobbies that are expensive and universities that cost a fortune. The affording ability will limit you in some ways, but you can always take a loan to pursue your passion.
Location: Be it study or work, people always have their preferable locations. Sometimes, it is not just about the college but about the location too. Some students also want to study abroad in countries like the US, UK, Canada, etc., while others want to study in their home country.
7. Classify your goals into SMART
After coming this far in the article, chances are, you are still confused. No problem, it happens. In this step, you will learn how to classify your goals and objectives into an acronym called ‘SMART’, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. After identifying all the career choices and prioritizing them, you can make a plan to implement it.
First things first, identify all the short-term and long-term goals.
Specific- be specific with your goals.
Measurable- devise a plan to measure your expectations and progress.
Attainable- flying high is okay, but it should be practical too. Only consider those goals that seem attainable. It is always better to pursue those plans having more than 50 percent chance to succeed. However, if you want to change your path, I am not saying you shouldn’t go for it, you can always restart (but with extreme determination).
Relevant- the goal should always be relevant to your interests, thoughts, and hobbies.
Time-Bound– apart from talent, time is the most important resource you have in your hands. Without a time-frame, it is redundant to make goals and hope to achieve them sometime in the future.
8. Deliberately make an action plan
After creating a rough plan, it is now time to make an action plan out of it. Set your hopes high but try to be as practical as you can. In the career planning process, you have now entered the action plan phase.
Here, you will make a detailed layout of the skills you want to gain and the opportunities you want to take part in. It is more like a long-term to-do list. Amend them from time to time and check off the tasks you have completed already. This way, you can keep a better look at your long-term career plans.
9. Find a mentor/career advisor
No matter how much you can research by yourself, having a more experienced person around you won’t cause any harm. Just like you need a teacher to understand the lessons, similarly, you need a person to guide you in the career research process.
The person could be anyone- your parents, relatives, teachers, advisor, mentor, cousin, etc.
If you find a person who can help you with your career choices, consider it as a boon
10. Consider other problems and devise a solution
I have given a general career plan here. Anyone can apply it by making minute changes to it. To be honest, there is no perfect plan, therefore, do what works for you. All you need is some guidance and that’s how you can easily pursue anything you want in your life.
Conclusion: Career planning is a gradual process
You know the drill. I have shown you the importance of career planning. Now, it depends on you how you will implement it. Trust me, even though the future seems unpredictable, you can always go ahead with a well-planned future. Follow all the goals and research well, you will definitely find what you love.
Cheers to success.