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Career Planning
by Donald J Cinque

Part I Career Planning: Where Is My Job And Life Going?

Trying to figure out what you should be in life is a 24/7/365 task! Today, information about the world of work is paramount prior to this journey. Some say, "My Father was a carpenter...I guess I'll do that, or "my Mother was nurse...I like to be with people, so I think I will do that." Sounds easy? I don't want to minimize the importance of making this decision. Just because you are "just like your Dad" or "just like your Mother" or even better, "just like my best friend" doesn't mean you both should have the same career path. In the past, counselors matched individual interests to the career (job) characteristics and BINGO the client was on their way to success and happiness. Not so today.

Today, a career is much more that just a job. One of the great life counselors, Donald Super, talked about a life-span career. To simplify things, life-span consists of our roles during our lifetime. For example, we travel through the following roles: infant, son, sister, brother, husband, grandfather, death. Along the way we branch off to student, worker, cousin, and the like. Our roles, our environment, and yes, our personalities affect the career choices we make. This may sound very trivial, but we do adjust our personalities to meet the roles. So what does this have to do with anything!

Just this...we are all very different and unique individuals! To find our way we must be proactive not reactive. As we grow up it is important for us to get answers to our questions. What makes this happen? What does that person do? What is my life purpose? Why do I like my job but am still unhappy with my life? What am I really good at? As we grow we find out about the world in general and how we relate to our work and other people.

The biggest single blockade to career development is lack of information. It is very hard to say you like something if you know nothing about it. By doing job shadowing, co-ops and mentoring you "get a taste" of what an on-the-job experience is like. Sometimes people say they have a bad experience and don't like the job after they find out what it is really like! Do we really have "bad" experiences? Not really! It may be at the time but now you know what you “don’t like" because you experienced it and now have "information" about that job. Reading about an interesting job, asking someone who is doing that work why they chose it, and, doing the job, all contribute to sound decision-making, namely; "yes I do or no I don't like this job."

In summary, about 85% of the people working today don’t like their jobs, where their career is heading, and can’t figure out what to do about it! Maybe it is time to reexamine your life, where it is headed, and, what you can do about it!

Part II Career Planning: Life & Career Purpose

Life is not fair! The cards are dealt and we play them during our life. The pessimist knows the cards cannot be exchanged, but the optimist thinks different. The optimist learns how to best play the hand dealt. The optimist looks for every opportunity to better him/herself, always moving forward toward a goal he/she sets. The pessimist feels his/her life is a self-fulfilling prophecy; life is governed by one’s environment and each of us is stuck in that ghetto and that’s that. If one’s family is poor, then accepting poverty, materially or intellectually, is one’s fate. What about the optimist’s point of view? I think the optimist believes he/she has the power to make life what he/she wants it to be! Believing that people have a life purpose, a goal for self and society, contributes to the optimist’s self-confidence and outlook on life. What does this have to do with Life and Career Purpose? Lets see if I can do just that.

Marcia Bench, Founder, Career Coach Institute has a philosophy that “every person has a central life purpose, that, if fulfilled through one’s work as it develops and changes over time, generates optimum work fulfillment.” Bench means every person not just the rich and famous, the poor and not so famous, but all of us. Some of us have not reached the ultimate rush that makes us want to go to work everyday, succeed at what we do, and, get up again the next morning and do it all over again. Some of us go to work, seeming fulfilled, but walk away with “something missing.” We can’t put our fingers on it, but we know we are not happy campers. Some people wait around for a job to “fall into them” and just go with the tide and accept whatever comes their way. Unfortunately, sooner or later, they end up in the same boat with the other unhappy campers. Our purpose is not just what we do but who we are and how we accomplish our purpose. One man wanted to help others and so he does it through working for the American Red Cross and working with people who go through catastrophic experiences in their lives. A woman loves to read and wanted to share with children what she learned through books. She became a writer, teacher and famous storyteller.

Life and Career Purpose serves as our main focus in life. We make our decisions about what to choose and not to choose to better meet that life focus. When we try and accomplish this without a compass, we are off course most of the time and can’t get back on course unless we have this purpose. If we consider that what we do and say has a profound impact on others, then without purpose we are not giving others what they need from us; making a difference in their lives.

Part III Career Planning: Where Do I Go From Here?

So, here you are, not sure what you should do, not knowing how to get started, to get somewhere you don’t know about! Sounds very confusing! You might ask yourself, “How do I find out about me?” Well one of the best ways is to seek the services of a career-planning expert who can help you answer your own questions. Marcia Bench, Founder, Career Coach Institute, uses the term “Authentic Vocation” to describes as eight basic elements we need to determine:

1. Life Purpose-What is your purpose in life? 

2. Values-What matters to you?

3. Motivators & Interests-What motivates you to do something well?

4. Skills/Knowledge/Abilities-What natural and developed talents you have along with your education obtained?

5. Work/Other Experiences-What is your work experience whether paid or unpaid?

6. Desired Job/Career Target-What jobs or career do you want to pursue next?

7. Work Environment-What is the best fit job for you in your current company, while considering the above.

8. Business Reality-Is your plan realistic and can you survive financially?

This is a good, get-started list to really ask yourself, “What is my purpose on earth and what can I do to enjoy the moment, continue to grow, and, be able to take care of myself and family?” It doesn’t matter if you are just starting your career, a midlife career changer, or ready for retirement – the Authentic Vocation model is appropriate for all of them.

To start an exercise answering these eight questions, you need to keep an open mind, look at all options and focus on today and your future. Thinking about the past and how things could have been but were not, leads to destroying your self-concept and self-confidence. Those experiences, although at the time were very painful, are now life lessons that help you grow as a person.

In summary, take time to really think about the above even though today may not be the best of times for you. You will learn a lot about yourself, your relationship with others and start your career plan.

Part IV: Career Planning: Putting It All Together

There are many career planning information sites on the Internet. The easiest way I know is to go to a search engine, e.g., and type in “career planning.” Some sites are free while others charge a fee for this information and expertise.

Career planning means different things to different people. Some people may just want to find another job, some people may be career-changers, while other people may be looking for something else. As a career coach, I encourage you to find something you like doing, rather than just chasing “a job.” I know that is easier said than done when you are out of work and the bills keep coming in! Richard Bowles in “What Color’s Your Parachute” puts it this way: “… If you don’t know where you’re going or what you want to do, you will end up somewhere doing something you had nothing to do with.” And so it is as some people define career planning as the line of least resistance.

To those of you who are out of work, unhappy with what you are doing and feel trapped or just think it is time for a chance, then you will benefit by working with a career coach.

Coaches help people find this purpose through their work and to discover that life is a balance between what you do and who you are. Coaches show you strategies to understand how your worth to society is more than just a job.

As a career coach, I believe that every person has a purpose on this earth, and a reason for being at a certain place or certain time, because what that person does will have an impact on someone else’s life.

My purpose is to show you how to fish; not just give you one to eat.

Related Articles:

The 6 Stages of Modern Career Development
Career experts say that people will change careers (not jobs) 5-7 times in a lifetime. This being true, career management is an important life skill to develop and cultivate.

Collaborations and Affiliations
Selecting the right colleagues and affiliates is a key success strategy for any career path. Whether you work for an organization or have created your own, the people with whom you partner impact your results as well as your fulfillment and reputation.

Look at the Big Picture: Create a Master Plan for Your Life
No one wants to fail in life, but when we fail to plan our life, we are setting ourselves up for failure, thus the saying "If you failed to plan, then you plan to fail".

The Seven Steps to Abundance
Here are my thoughts and steps on how to to "design a life"...instead of been blown about by the winds of life (like a paper bag), or the currents, like a jelly-fish.

Donald J. Cinque, Career Coach, has over 15 years of work experience in Human Resources Administration as a Recruiter, Personnel Specialist, Human Resources Director, and, Manager of Employment & Training. He is a member of Toastmasters International and has given presentations on job searching, interviewing, and, career planning. If you have any comments or questions about these articles, please contact me at or 585-593-6727.

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