The Art Of Career Planning

By: Jason West

Do you plan your vacations? Do you plan your weekly activities? It would make perfect sense then, to create a plan for a successful career, right? The term "career planning" is foreign to most people, but it is a very important process by which we reach our goal of attaining the career we desire.

The definition of career is "a person's progress or general course of action through life or through a phase of life, as in some profession or undertaking" (striving for a goal). What is the definition of planning? Planning is "a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance" or "a specific project or definite purpose" (such as preparing for the future). So, for our purposes, let's say that career planning is "A goal that you desire to achieve in a selected field or occupation with a well thought out plan to get you there".

Why is it important to decide on a career goal?

A career goal can:

Help you focus and make decisions on what it is you want to do for a living.

Function is a motivator and therefore helps you accomplish your goal.

Assist you in discovering hidden abilities or skills you might not have otherwise realized you possessed.

Keep you from wandering from job to job.

Once a specific job (such as a teacher) or area of expertise (such as business) has been chosen, steps need to be taken to reach that goal. A goal is "the result or achievement toward which effort is directed". We would like to see our efforts result in having the career of our dreams.

Now," why is career planning important?" We must consider that the world around us is constantly changing. In order to meet new challenges as time goes by, one aspect of career planning is to look to the future to see what additional training or knowledge is necessary to continue to excel in a specific field. Most people today are constantly learning throughout their careers.

Six steps are taken in the career planning process:

1. Self-Assessment - evaluate and judge your abilities
2. Career Exploration - researching different careers
3. Targeting - deciding on what goals to set
4. Career Preparation - workshops, seminars, internships
5. Marketing Yourself - a professional resume, dress, and attitude
6. Career Management - "rolling" with the trends in your particular field and realizing when our own needs or interests change

It is possible that these steps will be taken several times throughout a lifetime.

Something else to consider is to find a mentor in your field who is willing to assist you as you achieve your goals. They can be invaluable to you!

Goal setting is a learned skill and crucial to success in a career. Just as with any sport or hobby, "practice makes perfect". Those who are successful in achieving their life's dream (career) set both short-term and long-term goals. If it is helpful to you, write them down. The long-term goals will need to be re-evaluated from time to time as interests or circumstances vary.

Why is career planning an 'art'? Because it is a skill that we obtain through study, practice and/or observation. Gather your information, set your goals and go after the career of your dreams!

Careers and Job Hunting
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