Career Planning—The Key to Success

While it may be tempting to allow your career unfold without direction—accepting any job you’re offered or moving from position to position without an end goal guiding your decisions—such a haphazard approach often leads to job dissatisfaction. Instead, experts advise choosing a career path that points toward a specific outcome with defined steps along the way.

This is because end goals help you make choices that will lead to a career you enjoy rather than to a job that offers little reward beyond a paycheck. For example, say that you accept a job in a real estate office because a relative helped you land the position. The problem is you have no interest in real estate. In fact, the idea of showing properties and dealing with the mountains of paperwork to close a deal gives you anxiety. After some time in the position, you decide to look for more satisfying work. But where to turn? Now your only experience is in an industry you dislike.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. Planning for a rewarding career—the kind that will bring you pleasure instead of dread and use skills you possess or attain—leads to greater professional rewards and enjoyment.

To start planning for a gratifying career, ask yourself these questions.

Is my current job in a field I want to be in for a long time? For those who already have a job, think about where it could lead. If you like what you envision, great. Examine the opportunities at that organization or the field at large and set your ultimate goal. However, if you don’t enjoy your present job, it’s time to think about where you really want to spend your working life.

In which industry do I want work long term? To help define the field you think will lead to a satisfying career, begin by listing the activities and arenas that excite you. Ask yourself how your skills and talents might fit into that world. However, be savvy. Examine the job landscape in that field and be realistic about barriers to entry.

What steps do I need to take to enter the field? Define the elements you need to enter a particular industry or field. If your research leads you to believe that area offers a viable opportunity, decide what you must do to prepare. Do you need a résumé that demonstrates your readiness? Do you need more education or training? Whatever it is, get moving!

Most people work about 100,000 hours or more before they retire. That’s too much time to spend floundering. Now is the time to take control and enjoy the ride toward a gratifying career.


  1. Why should you take advantage of your campus career center before you graduate?
  2. What steps can you take now to determine if an interest could become a profession?
  3. If you must take a job that doesn’t bring you gratification, how could you simultaneously work toward getting into a field that would better suit you?

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