Beat Uncertainty and Stay Sane with These Career Planning Tips

career development career growth career planning graduate career advice Dec 15, 2020

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Anyone else feeling this tweet?

 

Hey, we get it. We pride ourselves on career planning services that maximize your future’s potential, but planning for the future feels weird when the world seems to be ending.

 

But news flash!—the world’s not ending. 2020 has felt a million years long, but it’ll end eventually (waving at you, readers from 2021 and beyond!). Your future is still worth investing in. The hard part is knowing how to invest in it.

 

Luckily, career uncertainty isn’t new. COVID-19 only changes how many of us are facing it, not how we have to face it. You’re not alone. And there are concrete steps you can take to ensure your career plan can take whatever life throws at you, be it money problems, pandemics, or aliens.

Your career foundation starts with your mind.

We’ll get to the actionable items in a moment, but without a healthy mindset for career planning, all the tips will just feel overwhelming. Eating healthier is easier when the food tastes good. Exercising regularly is easier when you like the activity you're doing. Planning your career is easier when it excites you instead of depresses you.

 

In our world of uncertainty, “you have your whole life ahead of you” can sound exhausting instead of exciting. I admit I’ve thought to myself a few times, “man, sure would be nice to be planning for retirement.”

 

An intergenerational study conducted in 2016 interviewed people with the question, “What is important to your sense of self?” Here are the results:

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A whopping 43% of Gen Z’ers (as defined by teens aged 13-18 in 2016—people starting their careers now!) answered “professional/educational achievement.” We’ve internalized somehow that our career defines us.

 

And when you feel that your career defines you, the anxiety to “get it right” skyrockets, especially in uncertain times. 

 

Your career journey is important, of course (why else would we run a whole company about it?), but your career expresses who you are rather than defines you. You are inherently valuable for being you.

 

That means you are worth caring for, even if you're stressed about career planning—that’s when you need to care for yourself the most. Remember, self-care cultivates the best version of yourself to offer to your future employers.

Make career planning exciting, not depressing.

Think possibilities, not survival! Focus on the many wildly unique possibilities of your career apart from money:

 

  • People you’ll meet
  • Skills you’ll learn
  • Adventures you’ll go on
  • Experience you’ll build
  • Accomplishments you’ll pull off

 

Daniel Gulati interviewed hundreds of leaders in their 20s who seemed to live perfect lives with six-figure salaries, stable relationships, and abundant career options. But he found that many of them still felt confused and anxious. 

 

Gulati states, “Without a doubt, the individuals I met who emphasized meaning 

over money tended to be happier overall than those who didn’t.”

 

Let purpose drive your career, not survival. You have plenty of time to find your way and plenty of tools to help navigate it. You don’t have to stick the landing perfectly the first time, and you don’t have to find one perfect career.

Plan—but flexibly.

Know what you want to do and research how to thrive there—but give yourself more than one option.

 

How many of us stuck with our childhood career choices? I sure didn’t! And why’s that? Because things change—we change! 

 

Our personalities and circumstances will keep changing over the years, so the best career planning prepares to accommodate those changes.

 

It’s like setting aside money for car, home, or other repairs. If you’re already prepared for change, it won’t terrify you when it happens. Regular check-ins will also help you make sure that shifting circumstances won’t take you by surprise.

Check up on your career plan regularly.

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No matter where you are in your career planning, you can always benefit from thinking about your long-term career flexibility. Ask yourself once every few months:

 

  • What am I passionate/excited about right now?
    • Has it changed from the last time I asked myself that?
  • What are the big changes in my current field?
  • What other kinds of careers does my brand let me aim for if my first choice falls through?
  • What are the career projections for my top fields of choice? 
    • Tools like My Next Move can help—but remember, meaning over money!)
  • What connections do I have that can help me pivot if I need to?
    • Who can I ask for more info on my top fields? (Check out our quick and dirty tips for networking.)
  • What skills could I learn that could help me in any field?
  • Would professional help and community help me answer these questions more clearly?

Ceniza-Levine from Forbes says, “Today’s long-term career planning is not about knowing exactly where you will be in the future...However, if you build a career that continually expands your experience, skill base, network of connections, mindset and options, then it doesn’t matter exactly what changes you face. You will have the agility, flexibility and adaptability to meet those changes and build a career that makes sense for you for that market.”

Be mindful that you can’t learn and do everything, especially if you have a million pages of reading, three tests next week, chemistry club meetings, and friends who want to watch movies and eat ice cream every night. We get it!

Unsure how to prioritize your limited time? Coaching and community can help support and streamline your career planning so that you’re not running it alone.

What does YOUR career plan need right now?

 

While we think we've provided some good career planning advice (oops, strained my shoulder patting myself on the back), we don't have one-size-fits-all info that will grant instant, pristine clarity for all of your career plans. 

 

What we can do is offer starting steps. Start gearing up your career plan for anything the future could throw at you!

 

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