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  • Choose Your Own Path! Take Charge of Your Career!

    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
    Mae West

    No two people are exactly alike, not even identical twins.  Everyone is unique and has something they are meant to contribute to the world. Don’t try to follow someone else’s course or you’ll end up living a second-rate version of your own life. Recognize that the external influences in your life are meant for you to examine so you can form your own decisions; use discretion from your life experiences and from your observations to make thoughtful decisions. Seek out advise from mentors who have been successful and don’t be intimidated to learn from others experiences as well as from your own mistakes. You know you’re on the right track when you can answer each of the following statements honestly to yourself.

    I Like Myself and I Take Pleasure in My Accomplishments:

    I Accept My Flaws and Try To Learn From My Mistakes:

    I Am Open to Learning New Skills That Will Open New Doors:

    I Pursue Friends Who Share My Values:

    I Pursue Goals that Align With My Values:

    I Don’t Give Into My Fears and Negativity:

    I Set Realistic Expectations for Myself:

    I Focus On What is Controllable:

    I Maintain Full Accountability For Every Aspect of My Life:

    I Work At Developing Skills That Will Add Value at Work:

    I Seek Opportunities to Develop New Skills That Will Increase My Relevancy at Work:

    I Do My Own Research For Selecting a Career:

    Often times people resort to taking the most common route and fail to explore other options that may be more suitable for them. Have you ever noticed that you take the same route from one city to another as your best friend, parents or co-worker because it was easier than charting out your own path to that location? This may be logical and efficient when taking a road trip but it may not be the best method for choosing your career. While your parents might like to take a highway they’ve always taken you might find it easier to stay awake taking a rural route where you enjoy seeing fruit stands and local ice-cream shops along the way. While one person seeks efficiency another may seek experience and neither is right or wrong as long as it gets you to your designated endpoint.

    You can apply this same principle to your career path.  While one person may choose to go from under grad studying biology and upon graduation apply immediately to med school another may realize only through working in a given field that he initially deemed desirable to leave that area and then switch gears to apply to med school. What’s most important for students and graduates when choosing your career is to make sure your goals align with your values and that you investigate all your options. Take the necessary time to identify your core strengths and learn where the gaps lie between what you know and what you need to know in order to add value at work.  While it’s important to seek out advice from a more experienced mentor, don’t allow yourself to be swayed into choosing a career that isn’t aligned with your values and interests.  Most importantly, don’t follow someone else’s path if it doesn’t match your criteria or  you may shortchange yourself from finding your unique purpose in life and at work.

    Beth Kuhel, M.B.A., C.E.I.P., Executive Leadership and Career transition coach, writes about leadership strategies, career advancement and improving the workplace for Forbes, Huffington Post, Personal Branding blog and has been featured in Business Insider, Entrepreneur magazine, Tiny Pulse, U.S. News & World Report. Beth’s weekly career CJN career column was sponsored by Weatherhead School of Management.

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