The Art of Fashioning Your Career

Someone once asked me, “Where did you first learn about career?” We went on to discuss how the word, career, was not a familiar term until I reached the adult life stage. I reflected further and identified the signs, symbols, and behaviors that communicated career during my childhood. I noticed:

  1. My parents would say they were leaving for “work”

  2. They would mention what “shift” they were assigned that week (e.g., 1st, 2nd, 3rd)

  3. They had certain “uniforms” to wear

  4. They also had specific “titles”

Those are just a few observations. However, all these signs, symbols, and behaviors communicated career to me. This taught me how to function in a career “structure.” For example, a certain set of skills are needed, there are expectations according to the title, there is a time commitment, and there is an “appearance” culture. Certainly, this was during the ‘70s through 80’s when I made these childhood observations – no computers or internet in households, no cell phones, certainly no social media, etc. However, we navigate the career world according to the period in which we are living.

We have reached 2021, a period of technology, multiple ways to engage in entrepreneurship, the individual (depending on life circumstances) has a greater role in determining time requirements and work environment culture (e.g., clothing), and can even create their own new and innovative titles versus being confined to previously existing ones. However, for those who want to transition from a “pre prescribed” work environment to one that allows them to flourish in their unique abilities, what are the next steps?

When I was pursuing my PhD, certain classes I took focused on career assessment and counseling. Since I have been employed in academia, this is a good portion of what I do – advising, career guidance, mentorship, consultation, career identity – supporting others in the process of uncovering and coming into alignment with their “unique” selves that may not fall within many of the pre prescribed roles that currently exist.

In 2021, there is an art to fashioning your career according to your specific vision, occupational skills, and natural abilities. The merging of these three components of self can transition into something amazing. However, each needs to be explored – given thorough thought. For example,

  • Define your vision. A vision can have multiple components – you do not have to limit yourself to one thing. My vision since the 1990’s has been to engage in public speaking, writing, and providing counseling. This has all come to fruition, and I am enjoying every moment.

  • Write out all your occupational skills. It helps to see these in writing to recognize all the skills you hold. Once you recognize them, you can determine which occupational skills will help to move you toward your vision. Remember, your skills are flexible and can transition across various work environments. In addition, you can determine where your skill set may need enhancement. What skills would you like to develop? Then, take steps to build those skills.

  • Give yourself credit for your natural abilities. Oftentimes, people will tell us, “you are so good at … “ Those things you seem good at without thought or practice, these are your natural skills. For example, I enjoy cleaning and organizing, writing, being present for others. Do you see how this pours into my vision? Or, my vision has aligned with what was already within me?

These are just a few tips as you are exploring the art of fashioning your career. Enjoy!

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