Think about your career plans right now. Some reading this may not have a career plan, but maybe you are now starting to think you need a plan. Now, think about your career plans when you were five years old. How do they compare? Do you still want to be a ballerina, fire fighter, or hang out with pandas all day? It’s amazing how children seek out a life that brings them joy; later in life we pursue things that bring us the paycheck. George Carlin once said, “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired, and get paid just enough money not to quit.” That is a fairly cynical way of looking at things, but for some it is likely true. That is why it is important to think of your career path as the long game. It is not a “quick fix” and you will need to make adjustments as you go.
As you consider the long game, please note some straightforward pieces of advice from the experts that have helped many build a strategy around finding joy in a career versus just a paycheck with a job.
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning you have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed, will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made… that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.” – Adm. William H. McGraven (Ret.)
“The best career advice I have received was to be persistent and resilient and not let detours or failures derail my career. Successful men and women frequently have failures and detours in their careers, but do not let those bumps dissuade them. In fact, for successful people, failures are seen as a part of success and detours are seen as opportunities to push your career further ahead.” – Jude Miller Burke, author of “The Millionaire Mystique: How Working Women Become Wealthy – And How You Can, Too!”
“Don’t let your college major, previous jobs or money define your career choices. Focus on the skills you possess, the business ideas you are most passionate about and your ability to make positive things happen…” – Bob LaBombard, CEO of GradStaff
One thing to note with the profiles of successful people is they talk a lot about being resilient but flexible, as well as working smarter and not harder. It doesn’t mean don’t work hard, but if you can identify a more efficient way to complete a task, or even reach your career goals, you need to pursue that as an alternative. The other consistent item to note for the purposes of career planning is perceiving successes and failures appropriately. Success is an easy tool to learn from. Something went right… keep doing what went right. But failure… that one is tough. For many it may come as an indication to give up. Successful people also use failure to learn every time.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
This is the springboard to think about career planning. These thoughts are really just the tip of the iceberg, but if you explore the things you are passionate about, and relentlessly pursue those things, you will be able to enjoy all the pursuits on your path to success.