5 Life Planning Steps for Career Professionals
Many people are unfulfilled and trying to get unstuck in their life or career. Often they can’t pinpoint why they feel the way they do. They just know they aren’t happy, and they may have no idea how to make themselves happy. Our work together is focused on helping them figure out their passion, and their purpose in life (not just in their career) which leads them to more clarity in direction, to take specific action steps and to have a greater sense of control over their life and their career.
If you are currently feeling stuck or lacking direction in your career or in your life, here are 5 life planning steps you can take:
Clarify your values – Values are what’s most important to you right now. And while values do not change in the short term, they do change throughout your life as you enter and exit various life stages. It’s good practice to regularly review your values to ensure you are aligned to what’s most important to you. I remember a time early in my corporate career, when career progression was important to me and I worked long hours, took night classes and did what I believed was necessary to get promoted. As I moved into motherhood, I found kids and family were more important to me and while my career was still important, I did forgo career moves that would have meant relocating my family. Later, I left my corporate role in favor of running my own business to create more freedom and flexibility. If you are finding yourself at odds in your career or in your life, it may be that your values have shifted and you haven’t yet aligned your life to support what’s most important to you right now, in this stage of your life.
Identify your passion and purpose – What do you most enjoy doing? Are you doing “it”? Many people believe their passion should be their career. But there are many ways to fulfill your passion even if it’s not your main career. I know an artist who is accumulating some amazing pieces of art he sculpts hoping to exhibit them one day. Art is his passion, and yet he earns his living as a teacher. He finds many ways to integrate his passion into his work. For example, he volunteers for set design for school productions, he teaches art during the summer months at a local art studio, and he sculpts in his spare time. If you are one of the lucky ones where you are passionate about the work you do in your career, congratulations. And if you are not, there are still many ways to feed and nurture your passion.
Define your goals – Do you have a clear set of goals for this year? And for the next 3-5 years and beyond? Life is a marathon, not a sprint and your life plan should reflect that. A methodical, disciplined approach to realizing your dreams and goals. What do you aspire to be, to have? Even if the goal seems too big or too unattainable, think about and plan for how you can move forward in the direction of what you most desire? Taking regular, baby steps will get you the results you desire eventually. Also, make sure you look at all areas of your life not just your career. Consider: money and finance, relationships, personal and professional development, health and wellness, spirituality, family, fun and recreation, and physical environment.
Organize your finances – Do you have a financial plan? Many years as a banker taught me that some goals need to be planned for financially to be achieved. Generally, people don’t adequately plan for their future and then live a life of many regrets. You may have a goal to retire at 65 or start a business at some point, but unless you have planned for it financially, it may not be attainable. I worked with a client who desired to leave his corporate job and start a business. Through our coaching work, he determined the amount of money he needed to cover his expenses until his business broke even. He continued with his corporate job long enough to amass the money he would need. While it was not easy to save, be disciplined and continue with his job, it set him up for success and took a lot of pressure off his finances in the early stages of his business. Make sure you have adequately planned for emergencies, set aside monies to realize your goals and plan for your future including your retirement. A good financial plan is an important component of your overall life plan.
Create your career plan – No matter where you are on your career path currently… at the start of your career or perhaps nearing the end and thinking about retirement – you need a career plan! A good career plan will include a review of your values, interests, passions, strengths, skills and experience as well as your career goals, options, and opportunities. A good plan will identify and address education/experience gaps, personal and professional development needs as well as available support and mentorship. Having a well thought out plan provides you with focus, direction and the confidence to take action. The better prepared you are for the future, the easier it will be for you to slide into your next career move.