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Honesty time: figuring out your career plan is a mess. It’s overwhelming and scary, and often you don’t know where to even start. Well, rather than try to figure out a specific job, company, or even salary requirement, start with writing your career manifesto.
A career manifesto is a guiding principle that you carry with you throughout your career, no matter what your exact job title is. Your career manifesto is not a goal for you to work toward, although it is about helping you achieve your goals. Essentially, it’s a brief phrase you write down about what you want. Here’s mine:
To use my time, passion, and knowledge to add positivity to the world and to help others achieve their best life.
A career manifesto is good for you no matter what stage of life you’re in. It can help you figure out a major while you’re in college, what jobs to apply for post-college, whether or not to switch companies, or even if you should leave your job to start your own business.
With a career manifesto to check in with in times of confusion and struggle, you can make sure you’re always doing work that truly make you happy and moves you closer to your goal.
Creating Your Career Manifesto
The first thing you need to do is sit down to think about what you want to contribute to the world and receive in return. Now, this isn’t the time to think about the materialistic things, like a big house and a nice car. It’s about the way you want your career to make you feel on a daily basis and what kind of freedom you want in terms of travel and scheduling.
What kind of effect do you want your work to have on others? Do you want to make contributions through philanthropic efforts or do you want to make intellectual contributions to science or business? Do you want to help others? Do you want to inspire others? Those are the driving forces that will make up the fiber of your career manifesto.
Career Contessa says a career manifesto is really a life manifesto, and I have to agree. Your work is a large part of your life. For some people it’s the largest part of life. So when creating a career manifesto it’s imperative to think more about what you want your life to look like than just what you want your career to look like. The work you do dictates where you can live and how much free time you have to pursue other aspects of life, so you have to know where you want to live and how much you want to work before you can truly choose a career path.
After you’ve figured that part out, you have to think about what your personal mission is. Companies and charities have mission statements, so why shouldn’t you have a mission statement for your life? This goes back to those questions about the effect you want to have on the world.
So When Exactly Does a Career Manifesto Come in Handy?
When you’re feeling dissatisfied with the work you’re doing.
When you’re not really sure you’re happy.
When you can sense a big change coming and need a light to guide you through all the uncomfortable parts of change.
When you have to make a choice between jobs, locations, and other life impacting things.
All of these moments are scary and can leave you feeling all kinds of unsure. When you have a career manifesto that’s truly representative of what you want for yourself, then you at least have a little principle to help you figure it all out. For instance, if you want the freedom to work from wherever in the world so you can do philanthropic work on the side, but then receive a job offer that doesn’t allow that, your manifesto can make your decision crystal clear.
When you find yourself in a kind of funk about your work, take some time to think about how the work you’re doing relates to your career manifesto. Have you veered off course a little bit? If so, then you need to think of how you got off course so you can find your way back. Sometimes you get off course because your boss or company has changed things and moved you around to fit their needs. But sometimes, nay most times, the fault is solidly your own.
You’re responsible for the work you agree to do and whether or not what you do each day moves you closer or further away from your career manifesto. If your current work situation isn’t fulfilling your manifesto, then you can either find a way to shift things around so it does, or you can consider a different company or career entirely. It’s always worth it to try the first option, and if that still doesn’t make you happier then you can seriously think about walking away from your current job. But your manifesto can’t make that choice for you. Any decision you make is entirely on you.