How to Make Long-Term Career Plans

The Beginning of Your Career, Changing Careers, Unemployment

By Jenny Treanor

Career Plan ImageA successful career can define the direction of your life and have an immeasurable impact on your overall wellbeing. And while many of the twists, turns and unexpected opportunities that come your way result from serendipitous events and lucky connections, it's a good idea to map your direction first and let serendipity have a secondary – not primary – affect on your destiny.

Be open to possibility and change, but start with a clear path. Pay a visit to LiveCareer for general job search resources. Then consider these career-planning tips for three of the most significant starting points most of us will face during our working lives.

1. The Beginning of Your Career

The first draft of our life-long career roadmap usually begins to take shape during our teens and early 20s. If you're just starting out, keep this in mind as you meet with guidance counselors and make decisions regarding higher education: nobody cares about your life as much as you do. Right now, it may seem hard to ignore the pressure that surrounds all young people regarding their career prospects, but your loyalty should lie with your own interests, plans and hopes — and nobody else's.

Sacrificing your own career goals to please or impress other people (mentors, teachers or friends' parents) doesn't lead to a fulfilling future. The people who are currently pressuring you will have long since lost interest in your destiny by the time you're 27. Meanwhile, you'll be ready to start over and you'll be wondering why you waited so long.

2. Changing Careers

Many of us carve out a niche for ourselves (or struggle for years to do so) in a career that doesn't actually suit our true goals and personalities. Some of us embark on a long-term career path and realize years down the road that our goals and personalities have changed. Some of us simply wake up in the middle of our lives and realize that we really don't want to spend another year, month or even a single day doing what we're currently doing for a living.

If you find yourself in this position, remember: the sooner you recognize your situation and take action, the more time you'll save and heartache you'll avoid. People are creatures of habit, and even when you know it's time for a change, actually making the change can be difficult. Don't dwell in denial and indecision for another five years — start planning your next move now.

3. Unemployment

Job loss can happen to anyone at any time. Unlike the first two categories, even those of us who are working full time and love our work can find ourselves unemployed with little or no warning. When this happens, don't panic and don't scramble for the first available position that seems identical to your last. Stay calm, realize your aren't alone and take some time to complete an honest assessment of your options.

Don't be afraid to reach out for help. The experienced career management experts at LiveCareer can offer the job search guidance you need to carefully plan your next move.

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