As you finish school and enter the workforce, you are essentially starting a new chapter of your life. While the journey is always changing and will be different for everyone, it’s always good to have an end plan. You can’t always control where life will take you, but you can at least steer yourself in the direction you want to go.
The following list can serve as a guide for your career journey, but remember this isn’t a set-in-stone tutorial for your career. The order can change and some steps may repeat, but as long as you’re moving then you’re doing fine.
1. Learn and Explore
The time before you start working is the time when you get a general idea of what you enjoy and what you don’t. If you’re going to be working 40 hours a week for the next few decades of your life, you should make sure it’s doing something you think is fun and enjoyable.
At this point, do research about the activities you enjoy and see what options you have for a future with them. Someone who likes numbers could look into a mathematical field, while someone who likes music can explore more artistic options.
2. Continue Your Education
Many people would agree that a day where you don’t learn anything new is a wasted day. At the early stages of your career journey, you should be taking advantage of any and all opportunities to add to your store of knowledge.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to learn through traditional routes. While college is a helpful tool for being successful, it’s not always the way to go. Learning through apprenticeships, internships or even just simply shadowing at various places can teach you the necessarily information for the career that you want.
3. Landing the First Job
Getting the job that you want can be like jumping hurdles at times; as soon as you get the job it’s all worth it. It’s still essential to learn whatever you can, especially since you’ll be actively applying the information you learn at your job.
Make a list of goals and work to achieve them — whether they’re daily, weekly or monthly goals, make sure you have something to work toward.
4. The “Feelin’ Good” Stage
Once you’ve settled into your job and have gotten a good grasp on what needs to be done, you’ll be feeling good. At this stage, it’s important that you don’t get complacent. Try to find things that will challenge you — take on a mentor and develop the skills you already have.
At this point you should be looking at the big picture. Have discussions with managers and higher-ups about future possibilities and be aware of chances move up the chain of command at the company.
5. Adding to Your Life
Rather than following the same routine day after day, you can pursue various activities to get more fulfillment from your job and, therefore, from your life. You can ask for additional responsibilities at your job or look to change your job description a little bit. If you enjoy teaching, see if you can work with training the new employees. If you want to give back to the community, ask about organizing some community outreach with the company. Find ways that will make you enjoy your job a little more.
There’s no denying the inevitable — at some point in your career you are going to be unhappy with your job. It could start as simply as just being irritated about a certain task you have to complete. Then it could progress to being grumpy at work and then get to the point where you dread getting up in the morning because you know you have to go to work.
You can try to find ways to ignite the sparks with your job, but if you’re unhappy at your job you’ll have to make changes to fix it. What that means varies, but it could be anything from trying new things at work to switching jobs.
7. Take a Breather
Sometimes you just need to take a step back and reevaluate your life. At these points in your life there’s nothing wrong with taking a break from your career and doing what you need to do to refocus on what you want to achieve. Set up goals, such as learning a new language or other new skills, to remind yourself what you enjoy and what you don’t.
8. Change Companies
You can reevaluate your life and you can try renewing your focus at your job, but at the end of the day if you’re still unhappy you need to get out of your job. Fifty years ago the belief that you stayed at the same company from the start of your career until retirement was the standard — but that’s not the case anymore. It’s all about doing what’s best for you.
9. Switch Careers
No matter how long you’ve been in a certain career, it’s never too late to switch what you’re doing. If you’re looking for a new passion in life, check out part-time jobs or look into helping with a start-up — 565,000 new startups are created each month. Don’t be afraid to shop around until you find what you like.
10. Slow Things Down
Chances are unless you are well off in your early years, you’ll begin to slow things down once you pass middle age. Reduce your hours and close this chapter of your life.
Although these career stages will vary for everyone, use this list as a template to chart your professional journey. At some point throughout your professional career, you will feel dissatisfied, challenged, happy and tired. However, it’s essential to keep pushing to the next step in order to reach your professional potential.
Do you feel like we missed a step in the career journey? Let us know in the comments!