CEO and founder of Dearproviders of workforce, workforce and workplace management solutions.
Whether you are a starter or in the middle of your career, your career path– the jobs and experiences that support your long-term career goals – will last throughout your life. How can you navigate to what you want your work to mean and contribute to meaningful work with a purpose? It takes intention.
When you use intention to guide your actions, it sets the path to greater success and happiness. Mapping out the steps you want to take along your journey and how your actions support your goals will help you stay on track to a meaningful, fulfilling work life.
If you’ve never taken the time to think about and plan your career path, it’s never too late to evaluate your current situation and consider whether you’re happy to continue in that direction.
Identification of your values
The first step in charting a career path is defining your values. Your core values give your life meaning and you can use them to create a compass. This will guide you through challenges and help you sustain your career path. Reflect on your life experiences and find values that are meaningful to you.
During these times of introspection, ask yourself challenging questions, such as:
• What works for you at work? Mention how you feel about the physical environment, the people, access to opportunities, work-life harmony, and how work aligns with your values.
• What sets you apart? When you get good at something, you can leverage your worth in satisfying ways.
• What kind of impact do you want to make? You can find ways to work it into your life, both in and outside the workplace.
Finding “True North” in your career journey
Your true north is your guiding star that aligns with your values. It’s how you want to contribute to the bigger picture and where you want to make a difference to keep you engaged, growing and happy while learning. Finding your true north will help you feel a deeper connection to your career because it is intrinsically connected to what motivates you.
Your true north ensures that you follow your intentions no matter what happens in your career. Understanding and formulating a relationship with your values defines your true north and empowers you to make choices based on your priorities. For example, you can determine whether particular career opportunities, such as taking on new projects or positions, will further the overall goals you’ve outlined. Your true north is a touchstone for making these important decisions, as it helps you ensure that your career priorities align with your personal motivations and goals.
Conducting a skills inventory
With clarity around your true north, you can assess where you stand on your journey by evaluating your current skills. Here are some ways to get started:
• Four existing skills. Recognize achievements and positive contributions. Take a moment to write down what went well each day and what you are proud of.
• Identify needs. Look at the skills you need to progress to the next milestone or goal. Consider asking trusted friends or colleagues for honest feedback on your job performance and development.
• Create a personal development checklist. Think about the things you want to learn that can help you achieve your goals. This allows you to prioritize learning opportunities as they arise.
• Prioritize and attack. Determine which skill gaps need to be addressed now by identifying which ones are holding you back from doing your best work.
Build your career map
Creating your career map is a way to identify desirable opportunities that align with your values and interests, rather than responding to prospects that will not take you to your desired goals. When you’re ready to start mapping, follow these steps:
1. Do research
Gather career resources for your ideal position, such as job descriptions, skills requirements, personality profiles, and training and development program information. You need this research to ensure you understand the opportunities and challenges of your journey towards your dream career.
2. Set skill goals
What skills do you need to achieve your dream role? For example, if you want to become a project manager, what have you learned about the necessary skills and availability of that career? Next, consider how you can build the right skills. While certain skills differ based on the role and requirements, it’s good practice to learn relevant skills that align with your values and direction.
If you need to develop new skills or build on existing ones, be intentional. Some easy ways to build skills include auditing classes, online certifications, reading industry-related newsletters, networking, and attending webinars and conferences. However, it’s easy for distractions to take over, so be mindful about how you spend your time and energy. Use your values to keep track and focus on what matters most right now.
3. Measure your efforts
By setting measurable goals, you can know the true output of your efforts. Create deadlines, milestones, objectives and key results to document. Then think about it so you can examine your progress, adjust if necessary, and stay motivated. At some point in the journey, you may recognize the need to create small milestones. Moving forward in your career can seem like a monumental task, so setting bite-sized goals can build confidence to have bigger experiences later that you’ll be proud to share.
Introspection puts life’s challenges into perspective and opens up opportunities. When work consumes so much time and attention, you owe it to yourself to find meaning in what you do. Focusing with intention, taking time to reflect on your values, and charting your career path lays the foundation for achieving and sustaining happiness in your life and career. It’s worth it and your future self will thank you.
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.