By Anne Evenson
Whatever your career goals are, you’re more likely to succeed if you have a comprehensive strategy.
“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology
At the Center for Professional Education, we know how important planning for your future is, and that’s why we’ve developed a Career Planning Workbook to help you map out the steps you need to achieve your professional dreams. A comprehensive career strategy includes introspection, exploration and evaluation, all of which can help you understand yourself and your needs and transform how you reach your goals.
Step One: Introspection
Pages 1-5 of the workbook are your opportunity for self assessment.
Why is this step important? Behavioral scientists have demonstrated that human beings are motivated to work by more than just external rewards like money or status. People are also driven by meaningful objectives such as purpose, well-being, work-life balance and a desire to contribute to society. If you’re genuinely invested in what you do every day, your productivity, performance and satisfaction will increase. Self-reflection is the essential first step in finding your passion and will help you identify your values and personal preferences to set you on the path to true career fulfillment.
Passions, Strengths & Skills
Page 1 — The first exercise in the workbook will help you take stock of the skills and natural aptitudes you’ve developed over the course of your life and the things that inspire you. If you find this difficult, ask a friend or colleague for their perspective.
Clarifying Your Values
Page 2 — The next essential element to consider while you’re looking inward is your system of values. If your day-to-day actions and pursuits don’t align with your values and beliefs, personal and professional contentment will remain elusive.
Core values are the unwavering, foundational principles by which you live your life. These fundamental beliefs help you understand the difference between right and wrong and thus dictate your behavior. Some core values include convictions related to environmentalism, human rights or social justice issues, like diversity, equity and inclusion. Religious and spiritual beliefs and the importance of family are also core values.
Your personal values are the characteristics that overlay your core values and help define you. They can change over time depending on your experiences and are things like autonomy, confidence, curiosity, humility, respect, truth and wisdom.
Occupations & Work Environments
Pages 3-4 — Most people find work more satisfying when it harmonizes with their personal preferences and lifestyle. Understanding your personality traits will help you pinpoint your ideal work style and environment.
What occupations are you curious about? If you’re interested in any of the fields listed, go ahead and check them off, even if you don’t have any experience in them. This is not the time for limiting your possibilities.
This is the time to add some of your nominal values to the mix. Nominal values are things that add spice and variety to your life. Though they don’t carry as much weight as core values or personal values, these values affect your overall life satisfaction, and you should factor them into your considerations. They could be things like art, coffee, design, music, meditation, reading, sports, style, technology and exercise, to name a few.
Telling Your Career Story
Page 5 — This is your opportunity to put the self-assessment work you did on the previous pages together. We’ve provided the basic outline of a career story and left blanks for you to fill in, in order to make it yours.
We recommend a career story over an elevator pitch because storytelling allows for flexibility and is easier to remember, allowing you to modify how much and which parts of your story you share to fit a variety of contexts.
Take some time to reread through your responses on the previous pages. Which of those responses do you feel most strongly about? Do you see a few different stories emerging? Don’t feel like you have to choose just one set of responses. It’s okay to create a few different carreer stories. They represent your possible career paths, and at this stage of the workbook, you want to keep your options open.
Download the Career Planning Workbook.
One way to evaluate your personality is by taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs to help individuals identify their personality traits, strengths and preferences. The MBTI questionnaire uses the theory of psychological types explored by Carl Jung to determine a person’s personality type. The theory’s essence is that most human behavior is methodical and consistent due to how individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.
Consultants, counselors, coaches and therapists worldwide use this self-report inventory to help those seeking career advice. They believe that when people understand themselves better, they can select occupations that are more suited to their personality types and lead healthier happier lives. Just knowing whether you’re more introverted or extroverted can significantly affect your workplace relationships, how you advance your career and what kind of job you choose. Extroverts may thrive in a more collaborative environment, while introverts might function better in quieter settings. Understanding how you gather and synthesize information and how this informs your behaviors can help you recognize your strengths and communication style.
Anne Evenson is a marketing specialist and copy editor working in Austin, Texas. She holds a BFA in Fibers and Printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute.
Learning and professional growth go hand in hand. For regular career insights and information on continuing education programs offered by UT’s Center for Professional Education, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter, It’s Your Career.