Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Whether or not you (will) live your dream job boils down to your answer to this question: “Do you have a robust strategy for your career?”
Have you created your ideal career path?
If you’ve ever wondered why others are always looking forward to their working days while you wake up groaning and hoping that the day will be over soon, then it’s time for you to rethink your whole career strategy - or create a new one.
There are strong relations between success and good planning.
People with the right career path know what they can bring to the market. They are also among the tiny percentage of people with crystal clear and articulate goals. These two components, along with solid strategizing and planning, are the keys to a successful career. They are your success insurance.
To achieve your deepest, most exciting career ambitions, one needs to take a step back from their day-to-day life, look at the bigger picture, and ask themselves the question, “where do I want to be in 10 years?”
Armed with the right strategy and plan, everybody CAN have a fulfilling career. All you need is a little time for a career strategizing session, develop a plan, and build the will-power to stick to it over sustained periods (grit).
To help you jumpstart your journey in realizing your dream career, here are some actionable steps that you can do to create your ideal career path.
01. Identify Your Career Options
Knowing your options is essential before you make any decision or plans for the future. This is also true if you are planning your future professional career.
Start by doing a self-assessment to build up your plan. Know what type of person you are. Review your interest, skills, and the value of your goals.
1. Leverage Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability
The right way to weight out your options against each other is to leverage the desirability, feasibility, and viability framework.
In the desirability circle, gauging whether or not the market will welcome what you’re offering, of course, finding a product-market fit will take a series of iterations, experiments, and a lot of work. Still, it is a critical component to consider when selecting and prioritizing your ideal career path.
In the feasibility circle, take an inside-out perspective and honestly assess each of your capabilities’ strengths. This could be programming, copy-writing, sales, or anything.
In the viability circle, ask yourself whether or not a career path makes sense for you to do. Can this career path sustain me financially? Will I be enjoying my work? Or whether this role be too time-consuming?
The intersection is the representative of your ideal career. Now let’s see how to find it.
2. Make a List of Your Skills
Now, let’s make a list of your skills! Maybe you are good with words, or you can speak in front of the public without breaking a sweat, or perhaps you can draw a flawless building perspective while finishing your lunch. List them all.
You can prioritize your skill for the professional development of your career. Decide your best talent, then compare your gift with the others to make sure you know about your real passion skill and what is needed to reach your goal. Choose the ones that are essential to reach your goal.
3. Make A List of Your Interest
Aside from your skills, you have to take your interests or hobbies into account. The items can be anything from gardening to playing classical guitar to mountain climbing to tinkering with technical stuff. The idea is that the list should contain everything you would still do even if nobody pays you.
The reason behind this is to use something that you like as the starting point of determining your future career and the kinds of industries that you will choose. This is also applied to the kinds of jobs that you choose.
Not everybody wants to be an executive director of a company. Some individuals might prefer to be free and take freelancing jobs instead of the more stable occupations working in an office and climbing the corporate ladder.
If you have to do something that you don’t enjoy for the rest of your life won’t bring you any satisfaction. Your life would be a living hell.
4. Find the Sweet Intersection
Now take the list of your skills and your interests and find the intersection between the two. Your ideal career should be doing something that you love, and you are good at it. In other words, your skill should match your interest.
But what you want to find is not just any intersection. You should discover the “sweet” intersection. Your ideal career should also be something that has a considerable market. Or to say it in another way, there are people who would pay you to do it.
For example, even if you love to watch TV all day and are good at it, is there anybody who would pay you good money to sit and watch TV all day?
5. Make a List of Potential Challenges and Solutions
Armed with a list of things that you love, are good at, and have a sizable market, you have a clearer picture of your future career. But the only predictable thing about life is that it’s unpredictable.
You should also think about the challenges, such as competitors. Many of your competitors have the same skill sets as you do. Plan the solution to face the potential problems that will come along the way.
After finding the possible solutions, you can formulate the best choices for you. Knowing this will minimize the risks that you might come across along the way.
6. Find Your “Why”
Nobody lives his/her life without meeting any challenges along the way. Some people stop and give up; some continue despite the difficulties. What’s the difference?
Those who reach their goals know their “Why”.
Their “Why” is the reason behind their actions. This is what keeps them going during the worst of times. Maybe it’s the family, perhaps it’s for the greater good of the world, or perhaps it’s something personal. But it would be different for every person.
Giving up is easy. There are millions of reasons to do so. You need an anchor to reach your goal. Find your “Why”. And it must be strong enough to keep you on track to your success. We’ll discuss building your motivation later.
02. Design SMART Goals for Your Ideal Career Path
You’ve set your destination, and you know where you need to go and why you need to go there. Now it’s time to plan on how to get there.
An excellent framework to start with is the “SMART” framework, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Let’s look at them one by one.
“Specific” means well-defined, clear, or unambiguous. To make your goal specific, you need to ask the five Ws:
Who: Who is involved in this goal?
What: What do I want to accomplish?
Where: Where is this goal to be achieved?
When: When do I want to achieve this goal?
Why: Why do I want to achieve this goal?
Instead of saying, “I want to have a great career,” you should say, “I want to get accepted in X university and take the Y major to be able to be Z.”
What is the indicator of your success? How far should you go and how much should you do?
You should have some criteria to measure your success. Without them, you can’t determine your progress and know whether you’re on track to reach your goal.
In terms of education, you can measure the progress by tracking the lessons you take, the scores you get, the exams you pass, etc.
Also known as achievable, this point is talking about setting goals that you can achieve. Or breaking a larger goal into smaller and more attainable goals. By doing this, you can figure out ways to work towards the desired result.
Don’t set your goals to be too easy. You’ll get bored and lose interest. On the other hand, don’t make it too hard either. If you think it’s impossible, you won’t even bother to try.
The question that you should ask yourself is whether you have the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal? If not, what are you missing? You could use stories of others who have done it successfully before as your references.
The goal should be relevant to you and only to you. As Steve Jobs famously said: “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.”
That’s why we spend the earlier stage to find out what is the ideal career path for you based on your interests and skills.
It means that your goal has a start and finish date. Otherwise, there will be no sense of urgency, and you will have less motivation to achieve it.
You must answer this: “By when do you want to achieve your goal?”. Write it down and use all of your resources to make sure you arrive at the finish line on time.
A goal without a deadline is just a dream.
Now that you’ve set the goal, you can continue to the next stage: writing down the action plan. Also, don’t forget to set the timeline and expectations.
03. Set Your End Goal And Motivation
Using the SMART methodology discussed above, you can start your career development plan by setting your end goal. Set your main objective before you start the journey. This should also help you build the motivation to help you stay on track and reach your ultimate goal - just like a loyal assistant to help you reach your goals.
1. Set One Specific End Goal
It’s impossible to start a journey if you don’t know your destination. So the first thing you need to do to create a career development plan is to find out where you want to go. You need to look for your end goal.
But this end goal should be a specific one. There are virtually unlimited professions that you can choose, but you should pick one industry, focus only on one occupation. Specialize in one thing. Just like a journey, you can’t have many destinations. Do not set too many goals as it will confuse you and you will end up achieving none of them.