The Career Plan
By Pat Criscito, CPRW
for The Boston Globe

What is the old saying? "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." That's it. Or maybe it's: "The best laid plans of mice and men . . ." No, we don't want that one! But that's life. A good career plan is not a guarantee that something won't go awry. In fact, you should plan for some detours, but the majority of people fail to plan their careers at all. They spend their entire lives doing work they hate without thinking about how to take control of their careers.

The first step in getting that control is to decide what you want to be "when you grow up". Every journey begins from a starting point and ends with a destination. Where have you been? Where are you now? Where do you want to see yourself in one year, five years, ten years, at retirement?

These aren't easy questions. If you have decided to take control of your career and need help in defining your skills, then a career counselor is in order. I'm not talking about the career-marketing firms that have given the industry such a bad name. Instead, look for a nationally certified career counselor (contact the National Board for Certified Counselors at 800-398-5389). Another option is to turn to the career services department of your alma mater or a local college/university. They can offer skills assessment, interest tests, interview coaching, and a wide range of other career services.

When you know what you like to do and what you can do, then you must narrow down the career choice that best meets your needs (money, city, physical demands, family needs, etc.). Set that career as your goal.

Now you can develop a plan to accomplish that goal. Do you need more training? A different degree? Money for school? Networking contacts? A better resume? A campaign strategy? Interview training? Analyze each obstacle that stands in your way and create a plan for overcoming it.

Don’t wait until your company downsizes or you get a new boss you hate. Make proactive choices now, not reactive ones later. A wise woman once said, "You can do anything you want to do if you want it badly enough." Go for it NOW! Nothing is standing in your way.
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