…..dramatic recent header for the Oliver Burkeman Guardian column ‘This column will change your life’.
My attention was caught by the phrase ‘action-plan’ – careers advisers often advocate the use of such plans to encourage people to take control of their career research, so I read on.
I was particularly interested in the research (by psychologist Howard Levental) which confirmed the validity of actually writing an action plan when you are struck by a need to do something – if you write down some practical steps to take, you are more likely to do them than if you just think you ought to do something. As Oliver Burkeman puts it
‘the impact (of good intentions) lasted about 2 hours. Deadlines and social plans colonised my mind again. They always do.’
So next time you’re jolted by questions from parents, friends, careers advisers etc into thinking about What Next? after university, and realise with a shock that you have no idea and really must do something about it, don’t just think ‘must:
- make an appointment to see an adviser’;
- read about what I can do with my degree’
- find out more about the jobs I’m vaguely interested in, to confirm, or otherwise, my interest’
- try to sort out which jobs may suit me’
- investigate further study options’
- talk to someone doing the job I’m interested in and get advice’
- get some more experience’.
You need to do more than just ‘think’ – otherwise all your deadline and social plans will crowd out your best intentions.
Instead – draw up your step-by-step action plan – jot down 2 or 3 things – electronically or with good old-fashioned pen and paper – you could do to further your career research. Select from the list above, add your own, or browse the blog for further ideas.
Just make sure you jot down your ‘actionable items’ somewhere – and that you then act on them. Make sure your future plans don’t wither for want of an action plan.