The following are five quick tips that I’ve noticed over the years that have often provided the foundation for effective, purposeful career planning for my students.
1. Define Your Goals and Expectations
When getting started, it’s all about framing what it is that you want to explore and figure out. It’s also important at the beginning to think about how much time, energy, and resources you want to put into your career planning endeavor. Here’s an example:
I want to figure out a good college major. I want to give myself a year to sign up for some classes that I’m interested in, and I’ll be sure to take a general career exploration class as soon as possible.
2. Be Consistent
A useful analogy to engaging in effective career planning is to think about someone who maintains a regular workout schedule to get into shape. This usually means that you devote some time every day on working to achieve your career objective.
3. Be Open Minded
This is one of those tips that actually incorporates other tips. 🙂 Being open minded can mean being open to new ways of thinking and doing things. For instance, if you really haven’t engaged in networking before, be proactive and take that risk of meeting new people who might be able to share some really valuable career-related advice and opportunities. Yes, some people you meet will be to busy to talk to you, but continually challenging yourself in these types of ways not only increases your chances of career success, but you get chances to hone so many personal skills as well (e.g., communication, interpersonal, taking initiative, etc.). Plus, networking is one of those endeavors that you get better at the more you do it.
4. Keep Your Focus
This tip is relatively self explanatory, but it’s such an important reminder that if you seem to be losing your focus, then perhaps it’s because you need to revisit your original set of goals and expectations.
5. Stay Positive
Yes, we live in a results-now society, but confusion and frustration are common for many who engage in career planning. Be heartened by the fact that many studies have confirmed that having a positive attitude greatly increases your chances for success no matter what your goals are.
The above tips are simplified for brevity’s sake, so I want to be sure to acknowledge that these tips have a lot of dynamic layers to them. And of course these tips will be different for each person since one’s planning is always in accordance with one’s own context. But on a general level, I think that these tips are good ones to pay close attention to when engaging in purposeful career planning.