How many people out there are unhappy with their careers? Many people don't even consider themselves as having careers per se, they just have jobs.
For many people, their career or job feels more like it picked them rather than the other way around. Have you ever looked back on your time working at your career/job and wondered how so much time got away from you and why you didn't make a change yet?
Life is too short to work at a job in which you are unhappy. Most people stay in their current jobs because it is comfortable and they are probably comfortable with their duties and responsibilities. Nothing new to learn, you have it all figured out right?
Well what most people don't think about is that the seemingly secure, dependable job you have could be terminated tomorrow. Some people have mandated job security, like tenure with teachers. But the overwhelming majority of us could be fired from our jobs tomorrow. So don't keep working at a job you don't like because you feel some false sense of security. Go do what you enjoy, because that job security you feel is most likely misplaced.
Follow these steps to find the career make you feel fulfilled.
- Create A Fake Advertisement About Yourself
If you had to write a five sentence advertisement about yourself highlighting your best attributes, what would it look like? What would you say? Stop wondering. Sit down and do it. Write out 3-5 sentences describing your best work related attributes that an employer would be most interested in.
This exercise takes some real, honest self analysis. Truly look at your work ethic and marketable skills and try to put them in the best possible light. Once you are satisfied with your description for your ad, sit and think about how you might like to improve the description of yourself. What would be some great attributes to have? What could you do to improve yourself so that your ad seems more appealing?
Now that you have done your self analysis and created an honest, positive advertisement for yourself, and also identified goals to improve your self description, it's time to make your advertisement for some far off date in the future. Pick a time period within which you seek to accomplish your career goals. I recommend at least five years, but it could be ten or twenty, it is up to you. Envision what you would like to accomplish in that time period and the skills you would have to possess in order to accomplish those things. What attributes would you need to possess in order to reach such goals? What experiences would you have to list in a description of yourself?
Remember, you are selling yourself, so be optimistic and positive about what you can accomplish in the time period you have set for yourself. Look at the advertisement for the future and picture how you can accomplish those goals and gain those attributes and experiences. Once you identify who you want to be in the future, you can start taking the steps to get there.
- Share Your Advertisement
Creating a career plan is really about pleasing yourself and making sure that you are working on a career that makes you happy. At the end of the day, YOU need to feel fulfilled. Do not make a career plan you think will make other people happy, make one that will make YOU happy. However, a little feedback can be a positive thing.
Share your plan with someone you trust. Tell them you are thinking about your long term career goals and that you have created a description of your future self that you hope to achieve through self development. That person may see some holes in your description, or an area you may not have considered. Many times, a second set of eyes can really help open up a different perspective on self analysis and goal setting.
- Develop A Plan
Creating a future advertisement for yourself does little good without taking steps to become that person. You need to chart out a plan for meeting each specific attribute you listed for your future self. If you want more experience in a certain field, consider volunteering on a small scale to get your foot in the door until you can get a paid position. If your future self requires more education to reach your goals, check out the courses offered in your area that may lead you down the path to your future ideal self. This could be a time consuming process filled with research and leg work. Plus, it is not as fun as sitting and writing down a description of who you would like to be. That exercise is filled with wonderment and positivity. Developing a plan is tough leg work. However, a future description of yourself without a plan to get there is useless. Getting to be the person you want to be and the career you strive for will be hard work. Don't let anyone fool you into believing anything else. But at least you will have the good feeling of knowing you are starting to set the wheels in motion to become your future ideal self.
The point here is that you need to make a plan to achieve specific goals that will build on one another and eventually culminate in you becoming the embodiment of the person you described in your future self advertisement.
- Take Action
Now that you have a plan to become that person you described in your future ad, you need to begin implementing the steps you laid out in your plan. Set aside a time period every week where you can sit down with your future self ad and your plan to evaluate what you have done to reach your goal and carry out your plan. Congratulate yourself on steps you have taken, and be brutally honest if you have not done much of anything constructive to meet your goals.
This is a self evaluation exercise, but it does not end with the descriptions of yourself in your present and future advertisements. Self evaluation throughout the process is essential to ensure you are continuing to take steps to meet your career goals and to maintain the motivation you need to make any of the big changes in yourself you need in order to become that future person you described.
The last step here involves visualizing what you will be like in the future, after you have become that future person you described. Think about the happiness and fulfillment that will result from you working at a career you love. What will that bring with it? Make sure you think about the payoffs and why you want to be that person. I suggest doing this at the end of your weekly session to evaluate how you have implemented your plan.
Visualization will help you to maintain motivation to become that future person and create that career you seek. Many times with these type of goals setting exercises, people start out strong, but then fade when the motivation wanes. Visualizing the greatness and positivity that will result from you meeting your goals, carrying out your plan, and becoming that person you seek to be will help maintain your motivation you need to carry you to the end of your journey.