If there is one thing I’ve learned after changing careers 12 times and enjoying 10 years of higher education, it’s that I knew exactly what I wanted to do for my career when I was 7 years old and it only took me 13 years to actually get there.
So what happened between age 7 and 32 to cause me to travel down every path, jump head first into every opportunity and take several unplanned detours when ultimately, I’m led right back to 7 year old me.
THE CAREER TASK CHECKLIST
For a long time, I thought career meant a job. A career meant I would receive a consistent amount of money doing whatever I had been hired for because obviously, I was good at it.
I had a natural propensity for active listening, encouraging others to speak, and creating a space for others to express themselves without a fear of prejudice.
I loved school, my favorite subjects were writing and history, I was the founder of my high schools' first diversity club, the speech writer in policy classes and the vice president of the Japan club. My career path wasn't blatantly obvious and I was told by several people that the things I loved weren't 'money making careers'.
Now with COVID as a major determining factor in a person's career, I wish I had these tools to help me plan for a career years ago, so I can only imagine the anxiety many may be feeling as they step into a COVID workplace.
You may not know exactly what you're looking for but I bet you know exactly what you're not looking for. Use a career task checklist to connect the dots between what you want to do, what's actually out there and what you need to get there.
A few tips to help you get started:
Tip #1: Don’t bother with the career quizzes. I’ve taken so many of those tests over the years and while I understand their use, honestly, career quizzes show you the career you think you want at the time but it doesn't give you a plan to get there.
Tip #2: Talk to someone. What led me to where I am today was a person, I spoke to someone who I thought was ‘cool’. I admired her work ethic, I wanted to be able to inspire people the way she did, to be kind and strong in a profession where I felt I was contributing to society.
Tip #3: Be aware of how trauma and poverty is affecting your decisions. I may have known what I wanted to do when I was 7 years old but I didn’t believe I could do it until I was 29.
Starting your Career Checklist
The goal is to have a clear end point, a list of what you’d need to get there, and reviewing your current accomplishments so that you feel empowered to continue down that path even when things get difficult.
Where I want to go?
There is no right answer or one answer, try not to think so much of a career title and instead think of: what work makes you most happy, what work provides a livable wage, and what work do you have the ability or passion to become proficient in.
Where am I now?
List your accomplishments, years of experience, natural talents, passions, educational pursuits, etc. Think outside the box here, don’t just go off your resume, think of what you know you have the capacity for but may not be taking advantage of right now.
Things to research?
This is where those passions and interests can be explored, ask questions like: how long would pursuing this career take, what education would you need, what’s the best location to work, live or go to school, are there alternative options?
Here is where things get real; you may complete this worksheet several times without ever completing this section. You’ve researched, you know where you are and where you want to go, now what? This will be the most difficult section to complete because this is where you take action.
Step 1: Write down your immediate next step and your end goal.
Step 2: Create a master list and list everything you need to do or complete first, second, third, etc. that will get you to your next step, than do it all over again until you are finally at your end goal.
Task Check-in Timeline
Create the task check-in timeline section once your master list is complete. Organize your master list based on your timeline(s). Any risks or doubts will become clearer as you begin to complete your running master list and check-in timeline.
You will feel such a state of accomplishment and empowerment as you check things off your master to-do list and see yourself move one step at a time closer to your goal.