Five Steps to Designing Your Dream Career
Let’s get real guys - no job is perfect. It’s true. There are always highs and lows - positives and negatives. Every company has its failings, every team has its quirks, and every position has room for improvement.
I don't want to talk about how to get the perfect job. That’s not a thing. I want to talk about how to conscientiously plan your career in a way that brings meaning to your life.
As a UX designer I use optimized research methods in relation to human behavior. My role has given me a unique perspective on humans, and on solving human problems. One third of our lives are spent working - so if you want to live a good life, it stands to reason that you should plan your career accordingly.
Using the principles of design thinking, we can solve almost any problem in a constructive way. So, why not address the biggest problems in life with these strategies.
Here are the Five Steps to Design Your Dream Career:
1. Empathize… with yourself!
This is the most import step - this is where we get honest with ourselves. Messages constantly bombard us about who we are supposed to be, what we are supposed to strive for, what we are supposed to achieve. But there is no one size fits all for your career. And the person who knows you best is you.
Building empathy with yourself means getting quiet. Examining your desires, your skill sets and your personality in an honest way. Sometimes it can be hard to be honest with ourselves. But the truth will set you free.
In order to build true compassion towards yourself, there are a couple of things you HAVE to set aside:
Quit thinking about who you wish you were
Quit thinking about who your parents want you to be
Quit thinking about who you think you HAVE to be
Look at who you really are, what are your true strengths and weaknesses?
What do you LOVE to do - what makes time fly by, and what parts of your job feel like slogging through thick mud?
Setting aside your ego, your upbringing, and everything you think you know about what your life is supposed to look like - ask yourself - what does a dream day at work look like for me?
2. Define… the problem
The question here is where are you at - and how far can you go to get to your dream career.
Look at the dream day you laid out in your empathize step. What are the differences, and what are the similarities between your dream day, and your current life?
Before you make any major changes, look at what you love NOW... What do you appreciate about your current work situation, and what could you grow to appreciate with a different point of view.
Once you've taken the time to see where you can bend, adjust to, and accept, you'll have more clarity on what is DEFINITELY not working for you. This isn't about caving, its about looking at what is truly essential to you to live your best life.
When you've identified the unacceptable differences between your current life and your dream life - you've identified the problem, and you can start working towards a solution.
3. Ideate - the solution
Now we have a lot of possibilities for improving your work life and building your career. Start with where you are at now, and begin to look at small changes you can make to move towards your work ideal.
Some helpful considerations:
Are there things you can change within your current role? Do you want to take on more responsibilities or different responsibilities, do you want to move up, or move companies?
Are there things you can change in you current company? Can you change departments, shadow other teams, or look into switching roles? Talk to others at your work and see what they do, what they like about it, and if it might move you towards your ideal
From there, we move to bigger changes. I you know in your gut you are meant for something else entirely... if your dream life and your current work life look and feel totally different, then you can look at bigger changes.
If this feels scary, just remember you are free to stay in your current job as long as you can bear living a life you KNOW you aren't fit for.
Look for other options, roles, companies, or career paths that might be a good fit. In my experience the best approach is talking to others. Do you know someone who works in a field you are interested in? Go now, buy them a cup of coffee, and ask them all about it.
Sometimes we may be attracted to something base on our assumptions, but upon further investigation, learn that it's not all its cracked up to be. When you are looking for solutions, do your research.
After reviewing all possible solutions, chose the one that best suits your interests and moves you towards your dream work day.
4. Prototype - time to implement
Layout a couple of the best solutions you have come up with. Which is the most accessible? I recommend you start there. The universe puts things in our path for a reason. Trust it.
Evaluate what you will need to implement this solution. Do you need knowledge? Do you need a mentor? Do you need courage? Do you need support? Do you need capital?
Write out all of the resources you will need to make these changes, and evaluate how and where you will get them.
Next, create a schedule. How long will it take you to get from A to B? What are the necessary steps you will need to take on the way? Create a schedule for implementation and put the major dates in your calendar.
Imagine how you will set aside time and resources to make it happen. Be realistic. There is nothing more discouraging than failing at something because you didn't give yourself the resources you needed to succeed.
Once you have a plan of action - it's time to test it out.
5. Test - try it out!
In my experience, this is an iterative process. Until we actually DO something, and have our own experience with it, we are operating on assumptions. Assumptions are not what we build our successful lives from. Its experience that matters.
Once you create a plan and set forth, stay open and honest with yourself about how it's going. If you are stalling because of fear - acknowledge the fear and move forward. But if you are stagnating because something about this new course doesn't feel right to you - go back to step one and empathize with yourself about the experience.
The dream career is something to always be working for. It is a road with an evolving destination. The point is that we are always trying to improve ourselves, and our work situations.
Once you have implemented the changes you've set forth, continuously look back at steps 1-3 to determine if you are on a course that truly aligns with who you are and what you want.
You deserve to be the best you that you can be, and to give the world all you have to offer. This is not a one step process, but an iterative process of discovery.
For more tips and strategies on designing your life - follow @clarafyuxui on all the major social channels.