Tom O'Neil: Take time to plan a career

Ensure you take time to plan your career.
Ensure you take time to plan your career.

Recently I was asked to be the keynote speaker at a careers event targeted towards school leavers.

After I spoke, a parent came up with their child and asked me "if you had the opportunity to go back and speak to your 17-year-old self about your career, what would you say?" That really got me thinking about what I wish I had known when I was younger.

Plan your career

It amazes me that people will spend weeks researching the purchase of a new car, or months planning their wedding, but spend almost zero time planning their career.

Ask yourself what type of job do I want to employed in in 10 years' time?

Though you may not have the perfect answer, you now at least have a solid point to focus towards.

From here, think about the type of qualifications you would require and type of job you would need to be in five years from now, to make your 10-year goal a reality.

Once you have put some thought into this, now think about what you need to achieve one year from now to fulfil your five-year goal.

Remember as you grow and develop in your career, you can change your goal at any time, however the key is to have some future focus to achieve.

As the musical South Pacific says "if you don't have a dream, how can you make a dream come true?"

Don't get discouraged

I had a young man come and see me whose first three bosses were really bad. He was massively discouraged about starting his career journey and wanted to give up.

Despite what you may be going through now, there are good bosses out there, and hopefully you will be working for one of them one day soon!

Have a go!

The great Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said "you miss 100 per cent of the shots you don't take" So many times when I was young I didn't push hard enough at what I was after and gave up too early when the times got tough.

Don't be afraid to back yourself and have a go.

Have passion for what you do

Over my career I have coached and mentored hundreds of people who followed their skills into the workplace, not their passion, only to find in their mid-forties they hate what they do.

At that stage it's too late to change careers as they are locked into a giant mortgage, have two cars on finance and can't drop their earning level to re-train into their passion.

While we all can't be forest rangers or film directors, discover what you are passionate about in your life, then look to include aspects of this into your career.

It's not all about the money

It's tempting to think that your career is all about making money.

However, as you get older and wiser, you will come to the realisation that lifestyle balance is vital for a sustainable long-term career.

Also think long and hard about the legacy you want to leave for your loved ones. Will they remember you fondly if they never see you?

No-one said on their deathbed - "I wish I'd spent more time at the office!"

Tom O'Neil is an award winning speaker and best-selling author.

- NZ Herald

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