Invest in yourself: 5 tips for making conscious career decisions

Knowing where we are going in our aged and community care careers can be one of the biggest challenges we face.  Too often I see people let their employers have control over their career. Giving them theoptions that the manager thinks will suit them and the care organisation.

Does this sound like you at all? I know that I have let people guide me into careers I have regretted. I always loved healthcare and helping others. But I allowed myself to be me led into the direction of the Navy where I spent three years in a job I hated. (granted I learnt a lot, but the Navy is not where I ever saw my future).

How do we get proactive about our future? How can we be sure that we know where we want to go? Who can help us find this out?

Firstly lets just state the obvious. You are amazing. You have rockstar skills that no one else has. You need to believe in AND invest in yourself. Starting today.

Now how do we do this?

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1. Know what you love (and don’t like) about your job.

Why do you love certain aspects of your job? Is it the client interaction? Do you like learning and implementing knowledge? Are you a whizz at helping people achieve their potential? Knowing what you are great at (e.g. your strengths) help you to find opportunities, give you greater clarity on what aspects you will like/not like, and understand how that will affect your ability to love the job.

2. Invest in you. Improve your knowledge everyday.

By being aware of your strengths, and work on your weaknesses. How do your strengths support the system/industry you work in? Talk to the people you admire and ask them how they got there, what they would recommend their successor know/learn about?

Don't rely on your workplace to find these for you! You can find great courses for free ... Check out Edx or coursera for free MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses run by great universities like Harvard, MIT etc)

3. Know and reflect on your core values

Know what you want from your career. Are you looking for a particular work-life balance? What type of company do you aspire to work for (and how will they support your ambitions?). Take the time to dissect where you are now, where you were 6-12 months ago, and where you want to be. How as your career changed? Have you improved your position? Stayed the same? Gone backwards? Take note, and ask yourself what your next steps could be.

4. Build and nurture your relationships

Building trust and nurturing relationships is vital. Do you have a mentor? Are you actively networking to connect with the right people. Be present, active, and deliberate in how you help others and how they can assist you. Get a mentor. Find a sponsor. By creating meaningful and deliberate relationships you will invest in your future.

5. Lock in some career planning sessions

Talk to your manager or mentor. Let them know that you are serious about your career and talk about your possible career paths. Be open and honest as you feel comfortable being. This will help your managers find you the best opportunities for your future goals.

Realise that it will take time. Yup, it can be frustrating but it’s the small things we do everyday, repeatedly that make us a success. So be proactive! Take control of your future. Know where you want to be, and work out a path on how to get there. Ask for guidance, take control, and determine your own definition of success.

Some of these tips are easier to do than others. But remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (so start today!). You deserve it!