Whether you’ve recently graduated from school, facing unemployment or unsatisfied with your current position, creating a roadmap for the future can help you find the right career.
It’s easy to get stuck in a dead-end job; and even if there’s room for growth, you may question whether you’re headed in the right direction. Well, you’re not alone. In fact, a recent study revealed that nearly 70% of Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs. Despite their unhappiness, many stick with their employer and positions. Primarily because a bad job is better than no job.
However, taking steps toward a better future is much easier than many think. The key is developing a career map for the future. This map is nothing more than a guide or a plan. It’s a way to assess your true passions, and determine the best course of action to realize these passions.
Here’s a look at four ways to develop a career map for the future.
1. Overcome Negative Thoughts
To begin your journey, you’ll need to let go of negative thoughts about your career. Sometimes, we are our own biggest obstacle to success. Rather than fill your head with reasons why you can’t succeed, focus on why you can succeed. For example, some people feel that they’re too old to start a new career, or that they don’t have the skills to start over. These thoughts, however, keep many trapped in careers they don’t enjoy.
Before you can determine the right career, you need to evaluate yourself and assess your strengths, weaknesses and interests. A self-evaluation or assessment can be challenging, but it’s essential to your career journey. To get started, ask yourself a few basic questions related to your skills and interest, such as:
- What are my interests or passions?
- In what areas have I received praise or recognition?
- Do I prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
- Am I an effective leader?
- What skills have I developed over the years?
- How would I describe my personality?
A self-assessment is the best way to recognize your strengths and shortcomings, which can help you decide the best career path. For example, if your assessment reveals that you’re an artistic person with excellent written and verbal communication skills, you might pursue a creative career, such as web design, interior design or writing.
3. Explore Career Options
Based on your answers to the above questions -- and any other question you can think of -- research possible satisfying career options. You can speak with a career coach or counselor, conduct your own research online, or take an online career personality test.
The truth is, there is a career for every skill set and personality. Take an introvert for example. Let’s say this person prefers to work alone, yet he’s a leader with a strong interest in marketing and the Internet. Based on his self-evaluation, a career as a social media manager might be a good career match. He can build a company’s brand while working at home from his computer.
4. Develop a Plan
Once you determine the best careers based on your personality, interests and skills, choose your new career direction. It isn’t enough to say you want to work in a specific field, you need to take actionable steps to make your career dream a reality.
- Do you need specialized training or education? You may have the personality and passion for a particular career, but do you possess all the necessary skills. For example, some career paths may require exceptional written and verbal communication skills, or perhaps you’ll need to sharpen your computer skills. In either case, taking an English, computer or public speaking class and/or workshop can develop your skills and make you hireable. In addition, some career choices require a certificate or a degree. If you’ve already completed college, speak with universities to determine how many credits you’ll need to acquire the appropriate credentials.
- What type of experience do you need? To reach your career goals, you may have to start with an entry-level position and work your way up. However, you might reach the top faster if you seek opportunities while completing your education. For example, look for internships or volunteer work related to the chosen field. This way, you can build your reputation and establish connections with employers who can benefit from your skills.
- What is your time frame? Set achievable goals for yourself. You’re undoubtedly excited to start your new career, but everything takes time. Decide where you want to be in the next six months, year, two years or five years; and also outline how you plan to reach these goals. For example, if your goal is to become an editor of a newspaper in the next five years, you might aim to become a full-time staff writer in the next six months (providing you’re qualified for the position), and then work your way to junior editor in the next two or three years.
A career map can give your professional life direction and help you secure meaningful, satisfying work. If you can overcome negative thoughts, understand the best career choices based on your interests, and stick with a doable plan, you can achieve professional success.