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Planning and Achieving the Future You Want

If you are fortunate, you are already working in your ideal career. More likely however, it still evades you and you are wondering if the dream will ever become real. There may be more ways to make it happen than you think.

Ask yourself this important question

Perhaps, when you think about your dream career, you imagine yourself in a specific type of job. If that’s the case, there is an important question to ask yourself. Is what you desire really the job, or the feeling you get when you think about it? John’s story, which follows, illustrates the difference.

John is a high school student preparing for university. For a long time, he wanted to study science and become a geologist. Whenever John thought about his dream career, he visualised himself exploring remote areas and discovering mineral resources.

Recently, John realised the real attraction isn’t really geology, but the sense of independence that comes with working outdoors. That insight has given him more options to pursue. While John may still become a geologist, he is also considering other careers including environmental consulting and surveying.

Keep your feet on the ground

While career aspirations are healthy, it’s a good idea to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground. Here are few reasons why.
  • Competition. Very few people become CEO or Chairman, for example. Be prepared to work long and hard to reach the top.
  • Family and loved ones. Does your dream career involve an exotic location, less pay or other major lifestyle changes? Consider the effects on your relationships or people who depend on you.
  • Practical reality. We can’t all be award-winning photographers or best-selling novelists. Do a reality check before setting out to create your dream career.
  • It is also important to ask yourself these three important questions
  • Do I have the talent my dream career requires?
  • What new skills or qualifications will I need, and how will I get them?
  • Will I need to move to another city, interstate or overseas to find employment?

Make it a research project

Find out as much as possible about the practicalities of following your dream career, where the opportunities are, and who to contact for guidance and information. There is a wealth of information on the web and in your network of personal and professional contacts.
  • Ask people who do something similar. People who work in a particular field are often very happy to give advice about it to others.
  • Research potential employers. Company websites and social media services can reveal information such as the names of the decision-makers who you need to reach, and current and future projects where your skills might be needed.
  • Analyse job ads. As well as telling you where the openings are, job ads usually include valuable pointers to the skills and knowledge that employers are looking for. Use them to help you identify any training and experience that you need.

Think about your current employer too

Your dream career could involve staying with your current employers and winning a promotion that gives you new challenges and responsibilities. We recommend you read about getting a promotion and performance appraisals

Plan your steps

Look at who you are today, and the person you will be in your dream career. Then map out the course of action you must follow to get from here to there. Consider the example of a young lady we’ll call Mary.

Mary has technical qualifications and aspires to a senior management role. After observing a number of executives in her industry, Mary noted that they all have
  • an excellent standard of personal presentation
  • strong public speaking skills
  • wide networks of business contacts
  • people management skills
  • business management skills
Mary now dresses for work in smart clothes rather than jeans. She has joined Toastmasters to help overcome her fear of public speaking, and an industry association in which she can start building a network of contacts. Mary has also enrolled in a short course on people management at her local TAFE and next year will begin a business management diploma at university.
To help you plan as thoroughly as Mary, read our article on personal development and our tips for developing your confidence.

Be patient, yet ready to seize the moment

Career change is often an incremental process. You need patience and dedication to learn new skills, gain new qualifications and experience, and find the openings you need. Keep working towards your goal and be ready to recognise opportunities when they occur.

Visit our Careers Advice section for related articles.
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