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Future Plan

Via The Balance : How to Set Short and Long Term Goals for Your Career

You may feel setting long-term and short-term goals is a waste of time, especially if you live by the old proverb, “Man plans, God laughs.” Don’t make that mistake. Not planning for the future can make for a chaotic one.

How Setting Goals Affects Your Career Success

Setting goals is a significant component of the career planning process. To have a successful and satisfying career, define your goals and devise a strategy to achieve them. A roadmap that will take you from choosing an occupation to working and succeeding at it is called a career action plan.

Your career action plan must have both long and short-term goals. It is imperative to include the steps to take to reach each one, along with ways to get around barriers that might get in your way.

Note: Since plans, even very well-thought-out ones, don’t always work out, it is also essential to include alternatives to implement when the need arises.

The Difference Between Short and Long Term Goals

Goals are broadly classified into two categories: short-term goals and long-term goals. You will be able to accomplish a short-term goal in approximately six months to three years, while it will usually take three to five years to reach a long-term one. Sometimes you can achieve a short-term goal in fewer than three months and a long-term one may take more than five years to complete.

To achieve each long-term goal, you must first accomplish a series of both short-term goals and additional long-term goals. For example, let’s say you aspire to become a doctor. That may be your ultimate long-term goal, but before you can tackle it, you must achieve a few others, for example, complete college (four years), medical school (another four years), and a medical residency (three to eight years).

Along the road to reaching those long-term goals, there are several short-term goals to clear first. They include excelling on entrance exams and applying to college, medical school, and eventually residencies. Since grades matter when it comes to achieving those goals, it is necessary to break your short-term goals down even further, like earning a high grade point average.

7 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Reaching Your Goals

Your hard work will play the most prominent role in your success, but if you don’t formulate your goals correctly, it will be much more challenging to accomplish them. Your short-term and long-term goals must meet the following criteria:

  1. Have specific goals. You might say, “I want to be successful.” Well, who doesn’t? But can you define what success means? Success to one person may mean becoming CEO of a company while to another person it may mean getting home from work by 6 pm every day.
  2. Your goals must be measurable. Have a timeframe for achieving your goals and a way to determine when you have reached them.
  3. Don’t be negative. Your goal should be something you want rather than something you want to avoid. It is much better to say, for instance, “I want to improve my skills over the next four years so that I qualify for a better job” than “I don’t want to be stuck in this job for another four years.”
  4. Be realistic. Your long-term goals must be compatible with your abilities and skills. Stating “I want to win a Grammy Award” if you can’t sing or play an instrument will set you up for failure.
  5. Your goal must be reachable within your time frame. Break a long-term goal down into smaller goals. It is better to take baby steps than one big giant leap.
  6. Pair each goal with an action. For instance, if your goal is to become a writer, sign up for a writing class.
  7. Be flexible. Don’t give up if you encounter barriers that threaten to impede your progress. Instead, modify your goals accordingly. Let’s say your need to continue working will keep you from going to college full-time. Although it won’t be possible to finish your bachelor’s degree in four years, you can enroll in school part-time and take a bit longer. Flexibility also means being willing to let go of goals that are no longer meaningful and instead put your energy into pursuing other ones.

Via The Balance : Step-By-Step Guide to Setting Career Goals

Choosing your career is one of the most important decisions you will ever make, one with far-reaching implications for your happiness, health, and financial status. It can be easier to do when you set career goals and put a plan in place to grow your career.

Unfortunately, many people aren’t sure how to take charge of this process, letting chance factors such as a convenient job offer from a friend determine the focus of their career. As a result, the majority of workers are less than satisfied with their employment. In fact, surveys indicate that as many as two-thirds of all employees are unhappy in their jobs.

Although there are no guarantees, taking a deliberate approach to the career planning process can expose you to more options and increase the probability that you will find sustainable, and enjoyable, employment. The process for setting career goals in a thoughtful manner can be broken down into the following steps.

Start With Self-Assessment

Taking stock of your interests, career values, skills, and personality traits can help you formulate your own criteria for a desirable career.

Consider a Coach. Meeting with a career advisor or counselor at your school, college, or in your community can help you reflect on your background and identify the cornerstones for your future career.

Create a Career Profile. If you would rather proceed on your own, start by reviewing your academic and work history. Which courses, projects, jobs, internships, and volunteer roles were most satisfying and successful for you? Make a list of the activities that were most energizing, and where you had the greatest impact.

Which are Your Top Skills? Ask yourself which skills enabled you to achieve that success. Then, consider which interests or values made the work meaningful or stimulating. Make a list of the strong skills that you also enjoyed using. Finally, itemize any of your personality characteristics that made the activities feel natural for you.

Creating a comprehensive assessment like this is a solid foundation that you can use to hone in on what type of career fits your personal interests and professional strengths.

Example:
Take Jane, a recent graduate who was struggling to visualize a career path that suited her. Jane reflected on her role as the social chair for her sorority and remembered that she coordinated some of the best parties, pledge activities, and fundraisers in the history of the organization. She really enjoyed leading a team of her peers, coming up with themes for events, organizing the logistics, and promoting the events.

As Jane conducted her self-assessment, she listed leadership skills, event planning, promotional ability, creativity, and detail orientation as key interests and skills in her personal profile. She also noted that her outgoing personality made her very comfortable in highly interactive roles.

Brainstorm Career Options

The next step after self-assessment is brainstorming some options for consideration. Scanning resources that list a variety of career possibilities like the Occupational Outlook Handbook is one way to come up with a list of options worth investigating.

There are many free online personality and career quizzes you can take to get ideas on what career would be a good fit for someone with your interests and qualifications.

You can also review websites that list a variety of job titles in order to build a hit list of career possibilities. Once you have some general sectors in mind, you can review top jobs in those categories, or you can search online by keywords like “careers in health care,” for example, or whatever field you are interested in. Try to identify ten careers about which you are sufficiently curious to spend some time conducting further research.

Example:
John had no idea what fields might be of interest to him. He started looking at the Occupational Outlook Handbook and found himself gravitating towards healthcare careers. He searched the internet for top healthcare careers and found a bunch of sites listing options.

John drew off these lists to fill out seven of the ten occupations on his brainstorming list: Nurse Practitioner, Physician’s Assistant, Ultrasound Technician, Respiratory Therapist, Physical Therapist, Dental Hygienist, Occupational Therapist, and Nutritionist. John found that some sports careers also caught his eye. Since he wanted some diversity on his list, he also included Sports Marketing, Sports Reporter, and Sports Psychologist to broaden his options.

Research Your Top Career Choices

Once you have a tentative idea of some careers worth investigating, then you will need to research them in detail to further assess their suitability. Begin by reading about each of the fields on your brainstorm list. Look for information in online career information resources.

Try Googling each field like this: “Career Information Physical Therapist.” You will find that professional groups provide excellent sources of career information. Review the requirements for entering the field and make sure that you are prepared to complete any training, certificate programs or educational degrees which are required.

For your remaining options, the next step should be to conduct informational interviews with professionals in those fields. Reach out to college alumni, contacts in your personal and social networks, as well as local professionals to schedule in-person or telephone consultations. Here’s how to get started with career networking.

Keep notes regarding what you have learned during your research and match it up against the list of interests, skills, and values which you generated during your self-assessment phase. Make a list of options which are still worth considering.

Try Job Shadowing to Get an Insider Perspective

If a field still holds your interest after reading about it and speaking with professionals in that sector, try to schedule a job shadow to observe the work and sample the work environment.

Consider an Internship or Volunteering

If you are in a position to try out a field that is still of interest at this point, consider doing an internship or some related volunteer work.

Start the Decision Making Process

You should be prepared to make an informed decision at this point. List the pros and cons for each remaining option on a separate sheet of paper and weigh the choices. If you are still unsure, seek the assistance of a guidance counselor at your high school, a career counselor at your college, or a professional career counselor.

Example:
Sherry read every possible piece of information on physical therapy that she could find, and she was still excited about the field. Her mom had utilized a local physical therapist and made an introduction for an informational consultation. Sherry was fascinated by what the therapist and her colleagues shared about the field and believed it matched up well with her key criteria, a nurturing profession in healthcare that would draw upon her strong aptitude for biology and physics.

Sherry spoke with an admissions representative from a local PT program and reviewed the admissions and degree requirements. She was confident that she could successfully gain admission and complete the program. She spent two days shadowing the therapists at the clinic where she had conducted her informational interviews and saw nothing that diminished her interest. Finally, she volunteered at a local nursing home and helped with activities for some of the therapy patients. After all this, Sherry had a very clear sense of the nature of the work and was comfortable with setting a career goal to become a physical therapist.

Via Daily Monitor : Why you need a career plan

Innocent Mukasa is a graduate of psychiatric nursing from Butabika School of Psychiatric Nursing. Though he had always seen himself pursuing a career in psychiatry after school, that has since changed.

“I do not think that is a field I would want to work in in the future. The truth is, I do not know what I want to do, though I can take a psychiatric job if I got one,” he confesses.

Like many graduates, Mukasa is waiting for that job, not because it will further his career goals, plans and aspirations, but because getting a job is what he is expected to do as a new graduate.

To many students, the plan is to finish school and get a job. There is no consideration to career planning, and as the cliché goes: failure to plan is planning to fail.

Think beyond ‘now’

In her article on career planning in The Guardian, Penny de Valk, chief executive of Cedar (UK), a leadership and management consultancy, writes: Career planning means thinking big while also being prepared for slow-burn development and responding to opportunities that come up. Luck favours the well prepared. The more you know what you are good at, what kind of work you want to be doing and how you will make a difference, the clearer the opportunities will become.

Noeline Muhumuza, a freelance career guidance counsellor shares that having a career plan helps one to have a clear mind on where they want to go, the requirements for getting there and the means to get there.

“Breaking down career planning into these categories can help you stay focused on the career road. Though requirements and means may change with time, the goal ought to remain clear. That is what keeps you going. Nevertheless, some people, besides the time and requirements, also find reason to shift the goal.”

Have a professional goal

A career goal does not necessarily have to be in your professional field. Muhumuza says, “It is more about what you are passionate about. It is bigger than your current highly paying job; it is what you want to be and the impact you want to make in the world.”

David Mulindwa, the head of career development at Right Care Schools, Entebbe Campus, notes that, unfortunately, many people think about career goals when writing a curriculum vitae (CV) or when pushed in a tight corner during a job interview.

“However, this is something one needs to be clear about even before they join university so that their education is relevant to their career goals.”

Requirements and means.

Additionally, Muhumuza shares that requirements refer to the skills, talents, experiences, knowledge and knowhow that one needs to achieve their goals.

“This therefore, means that one seizes opportunities and chances to acquire skills and applies these skills to gain the experiences that will help push them forward,” she says, adding that this does not come easy because one needs, resilience, perseverance and a degree of aggressiveness to get what they want.

Means, on the other hand, are the ways, bridges, paths that one forges to achieve a career goal. This might mean working a job that may not be the best to get the skills and expertise you need. It could mean waiting patiently to climb through the career ladder to gain the needed experience.”

Samuel A. Bakutana, a leadership consultant and chief executive officer of Inspired Leaders International, says, the bigger picture is always the real picture and should always be a major point of focus.

“Career planning or having career goals changes one’s focus from earning daily bread to the long term bigger picture of their contribution on earth. Since goals are basically dreams with deadlines, one needs to first have career dreams for the future and then break them into goals.”
Bakutana adds that when someone has career goals, they give the person a reason to work harder. Career goals also enable an employee to know the appropriate workplace and decide who should be in their professional circle of friends. Pursuing a clear future gives one energy for living.

Via Top Resume : How to Apply the Self-Improvement Movement to Your Career Success

Daily progress in your career development is more important than any big singular breakthrough. What you need to know.

The self-improvement genre is exploding these days. That’s good news for the masses, and it’s good news for everybody thinking about advancing or switching their careers.

Why? You don’t need to be a reader of Success magazine (or the website’s career section) to know the world of self-improvement has so much to teach us about career growth. From employment searches and interview skills to goal-setting and purposeful advancement, the on-the-job applications from this industry/movement are endless and there are lessons for everyone.

Goal-setting.

Let’s start with goals. The first thing every self-help guru will tell you is you need to know where you’re going. Then you need to write it down. So, determine your current goal(s) for career success. Is it to start working for Company X? Learn a role in a certain field? Study under a specific type of professional? Increase your responsibilities (along with the chances for a promotion)? Whatever the aim, write it down, then tell at least 5 other people about it. The very acts of documenting and sharing your career goal will help to solidify your resolve to achieve it.

If you want to go bigger with 3-, 5- and 10-year plans, you can try, although some experts think with today’s rates of change those distant timeframes should best be left vague so you can adapt goals when the world inevitably tilts another direction. The key is to think big and long-term, then write down the steps to getting there.

Job searching.

Job searching is a ‘numbers game.’ What do I mean? It’s all about volume. Just as a salesperson obsesses over keeping their pipeline full and working all the leads, you too need to be applying for multiple jobs and talking to even more people as you network and potentially shadow role models on the job.

Also like a salesperson, you can’t take rejection personally because you know that some people are just not the right buyer … or just aren’t ready to buy. Either way, you believe each rejection is getting you closer to the right job, and you appreciate the opportunity to practice your skills (e.g., skills used in the application process, interview presentation, job researching) along the way.

Ultimately, looking at the job search as a numbers game means you won’t dwell too long on any particular opening. It means you take your ego out of it when an employer rejects you because you know it’s their loss. It means you have several options going at once, always setting up the next interview, sending out the next application, or going to the next job fair. Keeping up with regular, job-search activity increases your odds and keeps yourself balanced if any one of them doesn’t work out.

Interviewing.

The old cliché ‘practice makes perfect’ is well, perfect, for emphasizing how to ace job interviews. You need to sell yourself, and the best sales presentation starts with diligent preparation. By working on your ‘sales pitch’ every day, you hone your interview skills the same way Jeff Olson of The Slight Edge would recommend: One step at a time, consistently. Over the long haul this consistency accumulates into a critical mass of momentum, what Olson calls ‘the edge.’

Even if you don’t have an interview on any given day, you can still strengthen your skills by role-playing with a friend or former colleague, practicing alone in front of a mirror, or writing down and memorizing your best answers to common questions (e.g., “Describe one of your weaknesses,” “Tell me how you responded to one of your biggest challenges,” “Tell me about yourself”). Continuous improvement is the name of the game here.

An often-forgotten part of interviewing is that it provides an opportunity for you the candidate to say no to an employer. So many of us fear rejection going into the process, thinking that the evaluation is only one-way; remember, it’s a two-way street! Rejecting the wrong company is as important as finding the right one, and there’s power in holding the ‘rejection’ card.

In fact, when you determine a company is not the right fit for you during the preliminary hiring stages, it’s your obligation to reject it. You owe it to yourself. On the first date that is a job interview, you have every right to walk away afterwards with no obligation if you don’t like what you see. This is also a skill: Identifying the right fit for your talents and conversely, avoiding the bad fits.

Purposeful advancement.

What self-help coaches invariably preach is the power of being well-read. Being well-read gives you a more grounded life (and keener intelligence), which also applies directly to your career. Whether cultivating a reading habit means keeping up with industry news/opinions, world events, or trade publications, or letting your imagination roam with novels or subjects you ordinarily wouldn’t encounter in your work life, the goal is to be reading frequently.

A steady diet of reading broadens your perspective, gives you a more sophisticated world view, and keeps your mind sharp by allowing you to get at the heart of what matters to your employer and the people you serve. It’s hard to think of a better selling point for somebody wanting to advance in their current organization or general professional role.

Having great ideas and being savvy in your ability to think outside the box often starts with being a voracious reader and self-educator. Plus, the better you educate yourself by feeding your mind useful information, the more you add value to every project you undertake, group you join or meeting you attend.

Take small steps, not massive leaps.

To borrow again from The Slight Edge (or Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect, which carries a similar message), I’d argue making daily incremental progress in your career plans is way more important than any big singular breakthrough. Following this logic, you want to look to the future while gradually improving yourself every day … taking one step at a time to bring you closer to your current career goal, whatever it is.

I’ll leave you with this: An old saying tells us, The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

What’s your first step to career success?

Via Twin Cities : Working Strategies: Spotlight on Gen Y: Planning Your Career

Young adulthood has always been a challenging stage of development. In addition to new responsibilities and privileges, the situation comes complete with all the big life issues: Which career path to take, how much training to go for, when/whether to start a family, where to live … Exciting, yes, but also overwhelming.

For the next year, I’ll try to help by devoting the second Sunday of each month to career topics relevant to young adults roughly 25 to 35 years of age. These are the folks who have the majority of their work lives ahead of them, along with all the decisions and planning that entails.

A good way to launch this series is by providing a career-planning template that offers structure without being overly rigid. Such a tool can help you steer your career while unlocking additional advantages, such as the opportunity to link long-term goals with near-term job options, and to leverage perks like tuition reimbursement for their full value.

The process itself isn’t particularly complex or mysterious, although it does require some setup. Think of it as a kit with three pieces, similar to the simplest desk from Ikea. The pieces themselves might be put to some use individually, but they reach full utility when they’re bolted together into something larger.

I’m not sure I can stretch that metaphor much further, so let’s move ahead to those pieces.

Piece 1. Lists of your personal and professional goals.

To make each list more useful, choose items that are meaningful but also measurable. For example, “Reach a supervisory level at work” or “Purchase a house” or “Finish college” would all fit the bill, while “Succeed professionally” or “Have a happy home life” would be too vague.

Piece 2. A list of the careers or job titles you’d like to try.

Depending on your curiosity, this list could easily grow to several dozen. It’s fine to start with a long selection, but try to end the exercise with three to eight options. In this case, vague is fine. For example, if you’d like to try something in health care at some point, you don’t need to decide now which role it would be.

Piece 3. A timeline that stretches from your current age to 60 years into the future.

For flexibility, this might be best started on a long piece of paper or even a white board. Eventually you may decide to transfer it as a work-in-progress into digital form.

Putting the pieces together is the next step. I recommend dividing the timeline into five-year increments, then shading the sections that pertain to your expected worklife. Hence, a 25 year-old whose timeline extends to 85 would have 12 five-year sections marked off, with the shading extending perhaps to age 70 when she anticipates she’ll stop working.

Now the fun starts. Use a pencil to transfer items from Piece 1 (personal and professional goals) onto the timeline. Since people tend to peg their goals to their age, it helps to write those numbers along the bottom of the timeline before starting this step.

Once you have your goals organized onto the timeline, turn your attention to the career and job ideas you’ve listed for Piece 2. These you will drop onto the timeline to be conducted in five-year increments, in whatever order seems most logical. For example, if one of the jobs is physically demanding or requires extensive travel, that one might land in the first five-year segment when you’d likely be healthiest.

For the moment, it’s fine to have multiple job titles occupy the same five-year segment, or to have one title stretch over several segments. (You may decide to use sticky-notes so you can move things around easily.)

By now you’ve probably realized that a benefit of this process is its visual nature. Writing down your goals first assures they get precedence in your planning, while adding the jobs helps you recognize opportunities and risks.

For example, an education goal can be an opportunity when paired with work that offers tuition assistance, while the same goal could be at risk from a job requiring extensive travel.

To finish your career template you’ll need to settle on which jobs belong in which slots, at least for the first 10 or 15 years of the plan. Career counseling and research can help you make these choices.

Once you’ve reached this level of planning, you can set the template aside in favor of a to-do list directing your steps for the near-term goals. At this point, you’ll have absorbed the basics elements of your plan into your consciousness enough that it will be guiding you even without having to refer to it.

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