Investing in your career is not only a great way to make professional moves, but it can also help you find the career path that suits you best. If you are unsure of where to begin or are feeling stuck in your current position, we have a few tips to help guide you and your investment decisions.

Brainstorm Your Dream Career

Finding a sense of direction when it comes to your career prior to making large investments is important, but it’s sometimes easier said than done. It can be challenging to find the right field that fits your skills and interests while also providing financial stability. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try creating an action plan that outlines the necessary steps, beginning with reviewing your previous experiences and educational background. This will be the jumping off point and will serve as a reference for listing your interests and skills.

List your skills you feel are the strongest and areas where you would like to seek improvement. This will give you a clear idea of what roles could be the best fit based on your current skill sets and will also challenge you in the process. Next, write out your core interests. These can be anything from writing, mathematics, science, creation and design, or constructing List whichever you feel is the most important first, and use this as a keyword in your job search to pinpoint more relevant choices and give you the guidance you need to find a right-fit career path. Consider reaching out and investing in a career counselor if you are still feeling lost to make your search even easier.

Push Past Comfort Zones

Pushing past your comfort zone is a huge part of investing not only in your career, but yourself as well. It’s intimidating to seek a career outside of your previous experiences or skill sets. It’s especially scary if you have other financial responsibilities to uphold. If this resonates with your current situation, setting professional goals for yourself is a great way to visualize these larger changes.

Map out in a journal (written or digital) your desired career trajectory. This can be a promotion at your current job, going back to school, relocating for your dream employer, or designing a business plan to own your own business. On the other hand, it can be as simple as setting weekly micro goals to acquire new skills. Whatever your map entails, make a note of when you would like to accomplish these goals to outline a timeline and actionable steps. For example, if you choose to relocate for your dream job, it’s important to plan ahead and have proper funding. You’ll need to know your budget for buying a home, the price of living, and transportation costs. Being prepared will ease this transition and maybe make it seem more achievable.

Budget to Invest in Your Future

This brings us to budgeting. When it comes time to invest in your career, you’ll want to make sure your finances are prepared for the expenses. This is where designing an accurate budget comes into play. If you have never stuck to, or even attempted to create a budget, here’s how to get started:

  1. Take note of your current net income—this is the total income amount after taxes.
  2. From your net income, deduct all expenses and set aside a designated amount into a savings account or emergency fund.
  3. Add a section to your budget to account for investing in your career path. This amount will be used for educational expenses, certifications, making a career change, or other costs associated with achieving your professional goals. This money can be pulled from your savings or disposable income.
  4. The remaining cash will be disposable income, which can be used for other spending.
  5. Update your budget on a monthly basis to prevent financial strain and keep your financial plan as accurate as possible.

Once complete, your budget will be a great resource for planning ahead, cutting your spending, and minimizing expenses, so you can take advantage of professional learning opportunities. It will also provide you with peace of mind in the midst of a career shift or when it’s time to make larger investments like continuing education.

Grow Your Knowledge and Skills

Whether you have worked in your field for years or are just starting out, there’s always time to grow your knowledge. Learning on the job is often the most applicable way to grow your skill sets, but if this is not offering enough of a challenge, it may be time to invest in continued education or certification courses. Look into online classes to make it easier to find balance between full time work and school, and don’t be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone. There are various degrees and areas of expertise that can add to your current career choice or can send you in a completely different direction.

Networking is also a viable way to build your knowledge base and connect with people who can help guide you through your career path. Go beyond reaching out online by attending job fairs or events that will allow you to connect in person. Have a game plan in place when attending these events and do not dismiss anyone, even if they are in an unrelated field. To build a strong network, you have to converse with various professionals who have varying expertise and perspectives. Be sure to follow up with additional meetings as well to keep you top of mind in the case that you are going for a specific job or to simply keep the connection going.

Investing in your career is important to finding your passion and what you want to accomplish as a professional. We hope these steps will help you find your dream career path and take some of the stress out of the financial side of the big picture.