Use Career Planning To Find Happiness

Why are so many Americans unhappy with their jobs? I watched the NBC nightly news and heard the following:

Americans seem to hate their jobs in record numbers today. Gallup surveyed 150,000 workers. Only thirty percent are into their jobs. Fifty-two percent openly admit they are not. And eighteen percent say they are actively disengaged, with a permanent case of the Mondays.[1]

I was surprised by these numbers, though I guess they cover a wide audience. It is difficult to find work and many professionals have to settle on a job to pay back college loans and/or support a family.

One of the driving forces for adopting a skills-based approach is to develop an effective career plan. I believe your career is an opportunity to make a once in a lifetime contribution. I agree with what Seth Godin says: you should become a “linchpin” (not merely a “drone”) and “an artist” – someone who creates fresh, insightful work. I also think you should find happiness with your career.  I passionately back these two assertions.

I think for many professionals the source of the problem is not conducting enough career planning during the formative stages of their life – high school, college, and young adulthood. Many young professionals do not have a firm grasp on their strengths, inner motivations, and personality traits. Moreover, they do not formulate an action plan to reach their career aspirations. In the planning stage of a skills-based approach, there are four strategies to help develop an effective career plan.

Cleary professionals cannot always find a job that makes them happy. Sometimes professionals are forced to take a job solely as a source of income. And some jobs have some unpleasant and pleasant responsibilities mixed together. A career plan (from a skills-based approach) is meant to be a short-term guide and a long-term proposal, so the concept is to move towards career pursuits that will make you happy in the long run. You are developing a skill set, which you commit to develop throughout your career. If you are working at a job just to pay the bills, then figure out ways to build skills while you are working (taking on projects) and/or after you are working (an online course, volunteering, etc.).

Another advantage in adopting a skills-based approach is planning your career based on a skill set rather than careers and degrees. Professionals can employ various actions to build skills. In combining these actions, they create the most cost-effective career plan.  A skills-based approach suggests building transferable skills that can be utilized across disciplines and subjects – so professionals become more marketable in a constantly changing job market.

Finally, I think having a plan to reach career aspirations demonstrates vision – a motivator when someone is working what seems to be a dead-end job.

Skills-Based Approach

Skills-Based Approach is a methodology centered on the development of a skill set over a career; it is a progression in four stages: planning, building, presenting, and validating. Each stage has proposed ways to achieve its objectives. The beauty of a skills-based approach is its simplicity and flexibility.

[1] NBC Nightly News 6/24/2013.

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