Mapping your career is not something you will simply sit down to complete once with your careers teacher in year 10. No, it is a plan that will continually evolve and take on new direction as your professional aspirations grow and change.

Planning a fulfilling career begins with identifying your skills, goals and interests. What are you good at? What do you want to achieve? What do you enjoy doing with your time? These are simple questions that will get you on the path to understanding the type of work that you will find rewarding. This brings us to the next step, finding a job, a course of study or training program that relates to your skills, goals and interests. Being a good athlete, able to teach others and having a passion for sports could see you wanting to become a Physical Education Teacher, a Personal Trainer or a Professional Sports Coach. The strategy to chase after any one of these professions will differ greatly. And so begins the journey to charting the path towards the career you have decided is for you.

A good career plan will be flexible, growing and changing as your ambitions do. Regularly revisiting your plan will not only keep you focused and motivated, but you may discover that your ambitions have shifted and therefore your plan needs to be altered to cater to your changing priorities. Likewise a life changing event may force you to deviate from your chosen path, taking the scenic route towards your overall goals. Regardless, planning will achieve the likelihood of success.

On your voyage to success you may identify that you are lacking a key skill or qualification to take the next step in your career. Having recognised this early it is likely that you have prepared yourself to undertake the necessary steps to leaping this hurdle. For some of you this will mean going back to study. Your finances and social life may experience a few sacrifices, but as you were aware of this pending change to your routine, you had adapted ahead of time and were mentally prepared and motivated to take on a new challenge.

Despite a well thought out plan, you may still encounter an unexpected barrier or two along the way. Obstacles may stem from circumstances beyond your control such as your employer going out of business, or they may arise from within you. Conflicting values, impatience, an inability to take a risk, and unwillingness to compromise, lack of motivation or even a lack of confidence can all act as barriers to achieving your occupational goals. It is at this point that you may need to reach out and find a career coach or mentor that can help you to push past the blockade and get back on track to achieving what is important to you.

Having a career strategy is important. It will assist you gain the skills and knowledge you need to manage the direction you want your career to go in and ultimately the direction it takes, impacting upon the successes you enjoy, both professionally and personally. It is difficult though for many of us to decide what we want to do with our lives, but a plan can help us reach that decision much sooner. No doubt pressure to decide what we want to do for a career is felt at an early age. I remember my school teachers constantly telling me that I needed to make a firm decision about the career I wanted to pursue before I selected my VCE subjects. They repeatedly told me that the decisions I made today would impact my career options later on. While their argument did have some merit, the whole purpose of having a career plan is to guide you, not lock you into an uncompromising contract. Understanding that this is a flexible process, you will be able to move with the changing employment landscape more easily as well as accomplish your career aspirations.

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