Six things to do
It can be encouraging to make lists and then be able to check things off that you have accomplished. Here are a few career-related tasks that you might want to consider:
1. Get to know yourself. All sorts of career-counselling-type people I have bumped into online and in ordinary life make a living helping people figure out who they are. Sounds strange, but then again, maybe we can all use some help. After all, why try to decide what you want to do, or do next, for a living if you don’t even really know who you are?
2. Develop your interests and abilities. Fine, so you discover that you are, say, good with numbers and tend to enjoy administrative type work. Congratulations! But, you haven’t arrived. Now you just know where you need to invest your time, money, and energy. It is time to study, study, study and practice, practice, practice and work, work, work.
3. Focus your efforts. Being a generalist is, generally speaking, a bad idea. It is much better to identify a specific service (remember one that a specific someone would be willing to pay for) that you could offer via your innate interests/abilities in a specific place. Work towards becoming a financial planner or an accountant or a bookkeeper or a math teacher, etc. rather than merely getting an academic degree.
4. Build trust and confidence. But, it isn’t enough to just be very, very good at something; you also need to gain the confidence of the people you hope to be paid to serve. This may involve what feels at the time like jumping through a lot of hoops; becoming certified or recognized, etc. This will also involve developing one critical characteristic: integrity. Would you want to hire someone, even someone with a Ph.D, who does not do what they say they will do?
5. Set some boundaries. Beware of trying to do everything for everyone or you will soon go crazy and bankrupt. Be sure to set some limits on the service that you can realistically hope to offer. This involves simply saying, “I will be able to do this for you, but I won’t be able to do that.” By this stage, you may have become quite accomplished in your career area, but you are still just one little person with a limited amount of time and energy.
6. Serve people well. Once you have some boundaries policies in place, do what you do really well. People will notice. It does make a difference. Offer the best product or service that you can. Carefully measure your level of service based on what people actually say they need. Do some research. Becoming really good at doing what nobody needs done isn’t going to help much in the long run.
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