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Good Ole Fashioned Planning Still Valuable in Career Decisions

Process of Elimination Helps Narrow the Focus
By Bob Park

Has technology dulled our planning skills? With all of the apps and information available, we sometimes don’t need to think ahead to get what we want. Need directions someplace? No planning needed. Just plug in the address and let the nice lady tell you exactly what to do. Want to get somewhere? Just order up your ride share and off you go. We don’t even have to plan our entertainment viewing since it’s all at our fingertips right when we want it.

But some things, big things, still require planning – things like what job and career do you want to pursue? When and where do you want to invest in buying a home – if at all?  Where will you retire? And while technology offers valuable tools that can help with these big planning decisions, it’s up to you to take ownership of the facts and what they mean for your life.

As with most planning, the goal is to bring various pieces of information together to see how they match up. It’s been said that information is power, and when thinking about possible jobs, and what it takes to get these jobs, you need all the power you can get.

Here are seven tasks to help empower you with career planning:

  1. List at least three things you do well and like to do and six or more things you don’t do well and don’t like to do. In planning for a job, sometimes the answer you’re looking for comes from elimination – ruling out those things you absolutely do no not want to do and are not good at doing. As a result, it’s helpful to spend as much time, or more, on the “no” options as the “yes” options.
  2. Focusing on three things you do well, research related jobs and careers that you can target, and eliminate the ones you don’t like.
  3. For your targeted jobs, identify the physical characteristics of each – is it inside or outside; are you standing or sitting; are you moving or standing still; will you be traveling or in one place; does it require you to crawl under houses, lift heavy objects or be around sick people? Understanding the physical setting and requirements of a job can often make you more or less interested and you can further eliminate those that don’t sound attractive to you.
  4. List any geographic limitations for your target jobs and determine if that makes you more or less inclined to want that job.
  5. Identify the education path for each of your target jobs? Consider both the financial investment and time investment required for each education and training path.  Eliminate any you don’t think you can commit to.
  6. Research the starting salaries and typical pay scale for your target jobs. Is the anticipated pay lopsided when compared to how much time and money it will take to get the job? Eliminate any that make you uncomfortable.
  7. Is demand for your target jobs growing, maintaining or declining? Obviously if it’s declining you need to think long and hard about that option.

Walking through these tasks and reviewing the answers to these questions will help you zero in on a more narrowly focused set of options that you can explore in depth. Be careful not to take the process of elimination too far though. You don’t want to limit your options too much, and it’s important to be open to plenty of choices. Taking the time to plan – with research and putting specifics on paper – will make you more informed and, as a result, more empowered to make smart decisions. If it’s important, don’t skimp on the planning phase. It may take time and effort, but it will pay off when you land your dream job.