Tuesday, 5 February 2013

February Frustration - why the time to start putting your career plan into action is now





The beginning of the year is the time most people consider making a change. Whether you’ve just finished school and are making those first few steps towards tertiary education or you have been working for many years, it’s possible that you are wondering if you’ve made the right decisions and asking yourself if it’s too late to make a change towards finding your passion.

Today, more than ever, people have to take the responsibility for building their own careers, but the good news is it’s never too late to try and make a change for the better.

If you have plans to further your education, getting a better job or starting your own company, you shouldn’t view your current job as a comfortable place to wait for it to happen. Your job will get busier and busier, you’ll get caught up in the rat race, and you could burn up the energy you should be using to realize your dreams.

First, ask yourself these questions and put your answers down on paper:
 

What do I love?
What are my dreams?
If I could do anything, what would I do?
What matters to me?
What do I believe in?
What brings me joy?
What do I find beautiful?
Who am I?
How do I want to spend my day?
Where do I want to live?
Who do I want to be around?

Take some time to get to know yourself. Themes will begin to appear, and your passion will start to emerge if you take the time to find it.

Whether you are just starting, or you have several years of experience, these tips might help you advance your career:

1. Never stop learning
Life-long learning is of key importance. The world is constantly changing, and everybody is looking for new ways of doing business. If you have decided that your current skills are good enough, you have also decided that your current job is good enough, but if you want to build a career out of your current profession, you should add regular updates to your skills and knowledge.

2. Ask, listen and learn
A good listener can learn a lot. Listen to people who you look up to. You can learn a lot from their experience. Ask about issues that interest you, and listen to what they say. Let them tell you about how things work, and what you could have done better. Most people would love to be your mentor and tutor if you ask them.

3. Fulfill your current job
If you’re lucky enough to be in employment, your current job might be best place to start your career. It is often very little that separates successful people from the average. But nothing comes for free. If you do your job well and fulfill your responsibilities, this is often the best way to start a new career. Talk to your supervisor about things you can do. Suggest improvements. Offer your help when help is needed. In return ask for help to build a better career. It is often possible - right inside your own organization - especially if you have proven yourself as a valued employee.

4. Build your network
Your next career step might arise from your contact network. Did you know that more than 50% of all jobs are obtained from contacts? If you have a good network of friends and colleagues, it is also a good place to discover future careers, to explore new trends, and to learn about new opportunities. Spend some time building new contacts, and don't forget to maintain the ones you already have. One of the best ways to get serious information from your network is to regularly ask your contacts how they are, what they do, and what’s new in their careers.

5. Be productive now
Make sure you don't fill up your days doing tasks that won’t bring you closer to your career goals. This is waste of time and talent. When you start in a new job, talk to your superior about your role’s priorities. If you're not sure about what is most important, then ask him or her. And then ask again. Often you will be surprised about the differences between what you assume, and what is really important.

6. Identify your ideal job
Your dream job must be identified. Before you start planning your future career, be sure you have identified your dream job. In your dream job, you will be doing all the things you enjoy, and none (or very few) of the things you don't enjoy. What kind of job would that be? Do you like or dislike having responsibility for others? Do you like to work with technology or with people? Do you want to run your own business or be a manager? Do you want to be an artist, a designer or a skilled engineer?

7. Prepare yourself
Your dream might show up tomorrow. Be prepared. Don't wait a second. Update your CV now, and continue to update it regularly. Tomorrow your dream job may show up right before your nose. Prepare for it with a professional CV and be ready to describe yourself as a valuable commodity to anyone that will try to recruit you. If you don't know how to write a CV, or how to describe yourself, start learning how now.

8. Equip yourself for the job
You can build your future career using a lot of different tools. You can add a lot to your career by studying books and tutorials. Doing short time courses or diplomas at FET colleges might add valuable weight to your CV and make you the ideal candidate for your dream position.

9. Get professional
Your employer may not tell you exactly their own view of what being professional means. Make sure you finish tasks or projects timeously and provide feedback. Be prepared when attending meetings. Avoid gossiping at work with colleagues. Make sure you always treat people (both co-workers and customers) with respect, do what you promise and don’t keep them waiting unnecessarily.
The more you put these principles into practice, the better your chances will be to create a positive reputation for yourself. This can ultimately translate into raises and promotions, chances to work on more assignments that you enjoy, and the respect of peers and senior management. You also benefit from feelings of increased self-worth and confidence, plus you keep yourself marketable for further career opportunities in the future.

10. Realize Your Dreams
Put your dreams into action. Don't let a busy job kill your dreams. If you have higher goals, put them into action now.

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” - Zig Ziglar

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