By taking 4 steps

The consensus among the career-counselling people on the Internet, or at least the ones that I have been exposed to, is that it is wise to work through the following steps if you want to make progress in your life:

Step #1: Zoom in on the real you 

Analyze yourself. Probe and ponder. Reflect and dissect. Discern your strengths and weakness. Discovery your personality traits. Take a spiritual-gift inventory. Find out what you are interested in and passionate about. Talk to people who know you well. Plan a soul-searching retreat or two. Have your brain scanned, etc. And yes, backpacking to Europe or Asia, or wherever, is alright too.

In other words, if your co-workers think you are useless and you feel completely unsatisfied with your life…there might be a good reason. You just might be living somewhere and doing something that messes with your wiring. So rather than giving up on yourself, berating yourself, or endlessly trying to plug a square self into a round hole, as it were, try to gain a more clear and accurate perception of the real you.

Stage #1 Slogan? Go deep or go home!

Step #2: Imagine career and life possibilities

Try to picture a variety of specific and tangible options for your life. Dream, but don’t be too dreamy. Think realistically, and at the same time expand your perspective. Make a list of options. Fill in the blanks: Somebody like me could do this, this, and that with their lives. Select a general career area that you are more interested in than others. As far as it depends on you, try to picture what you could do to make your life really count.

Yes, life happens. Right now lots of wealthy nations are busy going broke, and the most determined and visionary ones among us may be dragged down into an economic black hole. Very scary. But don’t dwell on that or any number of other perilous possibilities. Do what you can, rather, with what you have. Use your mind to picture positive possibilities for your life.

Step #2 Slogan? Go big or go home!  

Step #3: Make a concrete decision to do something

Ah, the wonderful world of sitting and thinking, and sitting and thinking, and pondering, and considering, and reflecting, and talking and talking and talking. Oh, the struggle that comes when you finally have the courage to declare: “I am going this way and not that way!” Suddenly visions of grandeur give way to focusing on one particular path that may now appear, upon closer examination, to be less than inviting.

But you have done your homework. This path is at least a potential fit as far as you can tell. You cut through the cloud and the mystery of it all, as best you could, and made your call. You have chosen to do a specific something, and simultaneously chosen not to do most everything else. Such is life. But, rest assured, God has 7 billion or so other people on the planet who have, presumably, been put here for some important purpose.

Step #3 Slogan? Do something or you will stay home!

Step #4: Make a plan and carry out your decision

This is when the feet (that would be your feet and mine) hit the pavement, and the pencil strikes the paper, and the fingers hit the keyboard, and, yes, when the rubber meets the road. You Plan after you have Analyzed, Imagined, made your Decision… and eventually you get PAID. Plan not do much of anything and you will likely accomplish your plan. Planning-type people may come across as a boring bunch, but standing still or staying stuck can get old after a while as well.

One career-counselor I came across mentioned that people tend to spend more time planning their vacations than they do planning their careers. Surprised? Probably not, because career and life planning takes time and energy and is really, when it comes right down to it, hard work. It takes less energy to drift than it does to direct. But, then again, while drifting boats save on fuel they do tend to crash and sink a lot, too.

Step#4 Slogan? Follow the plan to take the golden “An” to Stan the man in the tan van…

Okay, so you don’t watch Sesame Street and it doesn’t fit, but I needed something. And you will have to admit that I (1) analyzed my weird self, (2) imagined possibilities, (3) made my decision, and (4) carried out the typing of my strange planned slogan. This is exactly what the career-counselling people will tell you to do if you want to move ahead.

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