Career planning is something we were kind-of, sort-of taught in high school and university, but a lot of the career advice out there takes on a one size fits all model.
And I don’t mean that in terms of the generic, inspirational advice that usually goes something like: “you can do whatever you set your mind to,” but the approach of career planning in general.
When you go into a career counsellor’s office in high school and you say you don’t know what you want to do in your life, their first response is usually “well, what are you good at?”
“Do what you’re good at” is the type of well-meaning advice that people follow despite it not leading to a meaningful career. Pursuing a career just because “you’re good at it,” is not enough. There is so much more to a career.
Usually, career planning is super-centric around a few key areas:
- And personality.
But I truly believe that it’s not enough. Career planning also needs to incorporate lifestyle choices, work environments, and ultimately, fulfillment.
When you are looking to change careers, make sure you actually build a meaningful one by avoiding these 3 mistakes:
Mistake #1. Copying Someone Else’s Career Path And Hoping It Will Work For You
The first mistake most people make when changing careers is they try to copy and paste someone else’s career path in hopes that it will also work out for them.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to take inspiration from someone else’s career path, but if you are solely basing it on someone’s external success, it will not be enough.
A career also needs to align with your personality, lifestyle choices, and ultimately, your personal definition of fulfillment.
There is a big difference between being interested in a subject and wanting to pursue it as a career.
For example, when I was young, I was very interested in law and many of my classmates went to law school. But learning about law is very different from being a lawyer. I’m so glad I didn’t pursue this path because I know I wouldn’t enjoy the lifestyle of an attorney with long hours, high stress, and little fulfillment.
So instead of focusing on copy and pasting someone else’s career path, attach yourself to a career mission which leads me to my next point….
Mistake #2: Not Attaching Yourself To A Career Mission
The second mistake a lot of make when changing careers is not truly reflecting on what kind of impact they want to make on the world.
When most people think of pursuing a new career, they usually only think about the tangible aspects of the career – the industry, the skills used, and the education required.
And while all of that stuff is very, important, it’s even more important to think about the change that you want to bring to the world.
When you attach yourself to a career mission, you don’t have to constantly fear having a career crisis every few years. It also stops you from having shiny object career syndrome where you mindlessly hop from one career to another.
The importance of having a career mission is that it is based on your own personal experience.
That’s why copying and pasting other people’s career path doesn’t work. Not only because it may not fit with your personality or lifestyle, but it does not also allow you to address the “why” behind your career choice.
Your career choice has to be fueled by a personal career mission, and only you can tell that story.
That’s why, as someone who talks so much about career advice, I don’t actually talk about what I do…because it’s irrelevant. I have chosen my career based on 2 things that really drive me: political advocacy and economic development.
This career choice is super personal and based on my education in history and political theory. But is also based on my experiences like travelling to areas of genocide like the Holocaust in Germany, Killing Fields of Cambodia, and Kigali, Rwanda. My career direction also severely changed after working in microfinance with women in Tanzania. These experiences have really shaped how I view politics and economics and I could write a whole essay on it. I used to always think I would work in International Relations, now I work in local government and I love it.
But if you were to choose the same career path, you wouldn’t necessarily have the same experience and view it the way I do.
That’s why it’s so important to choose a career based on a mission because the truth is career change is the new norm. I don’t think I will be doing my current job for the next 35 years, but because I am clear on my career mission, I know what I want to accomplish. The form in which it takes is the fun of growing up and seeing what’s next for my career.
3. Focusing Solely On Strategy And Not On Mindset
When we think about starting a career, the first focus is the strategy: what school or program do I have to go through? Who should I be networking with? What experience do I need?
And while that is all very important, it’s also important to focus on the mindset behind it.
How are you marketing yourself?
How are you overcoming the self-doubt to quit and apply for jobs you don’t feel unqualified for?
Are you playing it safe or living up to your true career potential?
Mindset is an incredibly important component of any career. Because it’s not enough to have the skills or experience, you also need to be able to communicate them well. And it’s not only important to get any job, but one in a team where you valued, fits with your lifestyle and personality, and one where you are fulfilled when you are creating a meaningful career.
When you are looking at building a meaningful career, make sure you are looking inward to see what that means for you and are also growing along the way instead of only going for comfortable jobs. Because if you are changing careers, but it is not what you really want, you will have the same doubts and issues in 2 years in your new job.
And if you need more help with this, would love to help! I’m so excited to announce that my Promote Yourself 1:1 Career Coaching Program is officially open for application! Click here for details.
Remember to not settle for just a career, but allow yourself to go for the right, meaningful career.