It’s been said that people spend more time planning their vacations than their careers. Vacations are “special.” Shouldn’t your career be special too? Since a big part of your life is what you do for a living, career planning is something everyone should do.
A job is anything that has to be done and provides income to meet an individual’s basic needs. In general, it allows a person to go to work and draw a salary. Few people, however, feel passionate or committed to a job. It does not necessarily make you want to get up in the morning, take an interest in what you do, or provide you with fulfilment. A job provides the basics — cash and an activity. A career, on the other hand, is a profession that is pursued as your life’s work. While it meets the basic definition of a job by providing income from employment, it is much more. A career allows you various opportunities for advancement, for personal growth, for personal challenges and for personal satisfaction. Both jobs and careers require choices — and those choices have both costs and benefits. For example, a cost of being a doctor is the number of years you have to study to complete all of the requirements; another cost is the actual expense paid to attend medical school. Being a doctor, however, also has benefits. Some of the benefits include earning a good salary when you finish medical school and having a career that helps a lot of people.
Things to consider when choosing a career
Experts say the best place to start is by thinking about and even making a list of the things you like to do. Choose your career based on the things you like to do, not the salary you think you want to make. “Do what you love and the money will follow.” This adage has a grain of truth to it when it comes to choosing the right career. If you are happy doing what you’re doing, you most likely will be good at it, and when you’re good at something, you have a good chance of making money doing it. More importantly, you’ll be happy. What you do every day for a living should give you more than just a salary. The luckiest people in the world are those who can earn a living doing something they enjoy doing. Also consider what you can do. Your school subjects should give you an idea of the things that you can do more easily than others. Personality characteristics are important in the choice of career, because people with certain personalities are better suited to some careers than to others. For instance, a very shy person will probably not choose a career where he or she has to engage with strangers (for example, a salesperson).
Once you have determined what it is you enjoy doing and what you can do, it’s time to do some research into career opportunities that require those skills.
Also consider the type of education or training required. A wise man once said, “Never let a lack of education stop you from doing what you want to do.” If you want to do something, there is a way to get the financial aid you need to do it. Millions of rands in financial aid and scholarships go unclaimed each year because students simply don’t take the time to apply. If you have career aspirations, find out early what the educational requirements are, then start applying for financial aid and saving your money to make sure you can do it.
Deciding what you want to do at a young age can help you to focus your attention on taking the right classes, getting the right grades, and completing the paperwork and application procedures necessary to get into the right schools or to apply for scholarships and financial aid.
Commit yourself FULLY once you have made a choice. YOU are the only person who can make a success of your life and your career. For many of us, finding a career that we deem fun and long-term is in itself a long journey. But having a successful career in life is not just for the rich and famous, it’s also for the average person. We tend to look at successful individuals like Oprah or Bill Gates and assume that somehow they became wealthy and innovative overnight, but it actually took many years, time, effort, and perseverance.
Approach your career planning in a systematic fashion: 1. What do you like do? 2. What jobs allow me to do that/what type of jobs are available? 3. What do I need to do to prepare for this job? 4. Talk to people who do the job. 5. Get the training you need, and 6. Don’t be afraid to change your mind.
If you follow this process when choosing the right career, you’ll be less likely to end up feeling like you went on a really long, bad vacation, and you might just end up somewhere that you really, truly like.