Career Planning 101

By: Nana Ekua Abakah

Career planning is having specific strategies or directions in which way your career should go.
A career is a lifetime work using your skills, talent or profession. Thus a career is different from a job which is just a task you do. On your path to your desired career, you may take up temporary jobs along the way in other sections.

So why should you start planning your career?

1.It helps determine your skills i.e. What you are good with your hands
2.It helps determine your interest i.e. Your likes, dislikes and the things you love to do. It could be your talent or positive character traits (giving or being compassionate)
3. It also helps determine which career best suits you
4. Lastly, it determines the necessary actions (in terms of training) you need for your chosen career
Having established the importance of career planning, how then does one go about planning their career?
For instance, you want to be a doctor. You just don’t get up one day and you are a doctor. It will have to be the result of a plan and gradual steps taken from your Senior High school course tertiary course and results to your tertiary course selection.

So in planning your career, you must have a desired end and set realistic goals for yourself to achieve that desired end. Eg. Within the next 10-15 years, I want to a doctor. So what do you do within that time? You make sure you go through the necessary procedures (school and training) within that given period
You may be asking yourself many questions at this point.
1. How do I strategically pattern my career when I don’t even know what I want to do with my future?
2. I’m not gifted like others
3. I’m not academically good to even get good grades to pass
4. What if I start but end up a failure?
First of all career planning is not a one-day event.

Know that time changes and seasons differ. What you will buy during the rainy season is not what you will buy during the dry season. Minds become creative and change with time. We discover new paths, preferences, new opportunities and alternative options which might affect our plan. So remember your plan is not set in stone. Every now and then you have to revise your plan. You either make changes or additions. Don’t limit your scope


Assess yourself.

You should know your strengths and weaknesses, what is important to you, your preferences,

what you can do best etc. When you are able to identify these please make sure you put it on paper and categorise them so you don’t forget them.
Now take the positive ones

and assess them too. Which one best suits you?? Which one is realistic?
Which can you do with ease? Which do you have the passion for?
Mostly within these stages, if you are sincere to yourself you would already know which pattern to take
Use the SMARTER word for your assessment

S- Specific. You must be specific in what you want to pursue don’t put one leg on the fence and the other outside

M-Measurable. Put a time frame so you can see what you have achieved so far

A-Achievable. Don’t be in a rush to achieve big things instantly. Start small. Start with what you can do.
Don’t forget that better is the end than the beginning

R-Realistic. I mean you should be realistic. Well, all things are possible but my dear what do mean by you want to build a mansion on the moon?

T-Timely. As said earlier have a time frame for completing each step. Example doing short courses or talking with someone about skills required for a particular job

E-Empowering. Make sure your goals feel right for you. Motivate yourself because you are your best cheerleader

R-Review. As said earlier don’t be static with your plans. Give room for change. Now and then review your plans as a guide and allow space for adjustment

Just follow your heart.
What do you enjoy doing? What are your talents? Don’t forget that music and dancing etc are careers that people are making lots of money from while enjoying what they are doing at the same time. If you don’t want to be like the majority of people who hate Monday mornings and only drag themselves to work for the monthly paycheck, then let your talents and passion play a role in your career choice. Don’t just go with what is popular or what seems to pay the most. If you find what you are good at, you will earn good money from it too. Yes, it might not be immediate. As I say,  better is the end than the beginning.


For anyone desiring to become an entrepreneur, remember that it will not be rosy in the beginning. You see you have a vision but it seems you’re the only one who sees. You may try explaining but they won’t understand.Do your part to explain to those involved and assure them. If they don’t understand leave them to God for understanding. In the end, they would be the associating with you because of your success
This is a great effort you have to make. It’s very true that getting your plans doesn’t mean you are implementing them. Put yourself to work. Start even if it seems impossible. You have to take a bold step
I remember when I was starting the Human Resource Institution in Takoradi.
Others had tried and failed.Here I am a young person wanting to do what others had failed. It was a challenge, but  I put my plans in place and I took a bold step. And I’ve been running it for two years
And now it has been approved by the head office
Motivate yourself to achieve your career goals or you will regret it later in life when you find yourself stuck in an unpleasant job position.

Don’t forget to ask the Holy Spirit for direction. If you walk with Him, you would never fail no matter what
If you have to go through school do it. If you have to go through some training go ahead. And if you have to work under someone do it. The most important step, however, is to pray for directions
Nana Ekua Abakah is an HR Practitioner at Corporate Excellence and Consult Limited and head of the HR Institute, Institute of Human Resource Practitioners, Ghana (Takoradi Branch)

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