Before drawing up a career plan, it’s helpful to do a little dreaming. Take a step back and snap a lofty view of the big picture by putting some creative thought into your long-term professional goals. Are you destined for management or entrepreneurship? Or would you reach fulfillment working as an independent contributor? Accomplishing what you aspire to creates a feeling of contentment and success. Spending some time zeroing in on your career dreams helps define that concrete path to your future.
Corner Office Mindset
Some individuals view the future working in a leadership role and aspire to climbing the corporate ladder. Executives who lead teams to success know how to involve and inspire. If you identify with this career path, honing your managerial skills is imperative. In addition to gaining an expertise in your chosen field, completing supervisory coursework and putting in the time at the various steps leading to your desired level of executive management will help get you to the goal line. One helpful strategy is to find seasoned mentors willing to coach and lend support as you vie for leadership roles.
In structuring your career path, consider your value system. For example, you might opt to work long hours at the beginning of your career so that you can retire early or downshift professional responsibilities during your mid-career years to attain a more flexible schedule. Perhaps life outside of your profession is more important than building your resume. Depending on your priorities, work-life balance may be a factor you value over logging 70-hour weeks while rising in the ranks. Some individuals want to turn off technology and leave the workplace behind at the end of an eight-hour day to spend time with family, add value to their communities or work on outside hobbies.
As you project forward considering various career aspirations, factor in your relationship with money. Are you content following a minimalist philosophy, or is a fat bank account and a large home something that brings you joy? If you aspire to material wealth, structure your career accordingly. Risk is another factor to consider. Review your risk-to-reward ratio by examining the degree of risk you are willing to endure to capture the upside.
It is important to understand how you work best. If you lean toward autonomy and prefer to be your own boss, you might aspire to an entrepreneurial venture or a position that offers freedom and flexibility. Professionals who enjoy camaraderie might gravitate toward working in a team environment. Others opt for the opportunity to specialize in a specific area of their profession aspiring to be subject-matter experts. Career satisfaction is the ultimate goal. Knowing what type of job and work environment gets you bouncing out of bed in the morning is key to mapping out a satisfying career future.
Jan Simon is a career and life coach with more than 20 years of experience in corporate human resources. She holds a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University. Simon enjoys writing career articles and is a columnist for the CV Weekly. She also publishes a weekly blog called Life on the Sunny Side.