4: Make a Plan

Make Decisions

SAM tips

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of goals you have set for your career. At first, you may mark everything as “I need my career to do this right now!” But when you look at actions you can take with a critical eye, you may find that several goals can be met with one or two actions.

Remember, changing your career to meet your goals is not an overnight process; it will take time and patience. You likely will need to adjust your career goals several times to help meet your financial goals. Get in the habit of working through the exercises in this course each time conditions change.

Now you need to make some decisions about your actions. What will you do first, then what? What are the payoffs and trade-offs of your actions?

In this section of the course, use the My Career Goals Worksheet you’ve just completed and download a copy of SAM’s DECIDE Worksheet. Prioritize your near-term goals first. The next section will pull your work together in an earning plan, complete with due dates, progress notes and costs.

Example Career Actions

Some of your actions may address one or more of your goals. Ultimately, completing a DECIDE worksheet for each goal will develop into a manageable earning plan that lets you focus on near- and longer-term strategies in pursuit of your ideal career.

For example, if you are living paycheck to paycheck, then you might need additional training in your field or a change of job to gain control over your living expenses. One of the trade-offs could be that you need to find child care while you attend training. See the graphic below to follow how the DECIDE worksheet helps you work through actionable choices.

steps to help you DECIDE

A Career That Meets Your Financial Needs

Earlier in the course, you wrote down your definition of financial well-being. In light of your definition, you analyzed how your career needs to help you achieve your financial freedom.

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If meeting your financial needs made it to one of your career requirements, try these suggestions as you fill out your DECIDE worksheet:

  • A quick action might be calculating your self-sufficiency wage.
  • Then you might research some training options to boost your options for earning more.
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of each option to make your decision on whether the training will pay off in increased wages.

A Career That Meets Industry Standards for Salary and Future Growth

No one likes to feel taken for granted when it comes to salary, so make sure your salary is competitive and pays you what you’re worth.

To help fill out actionable items in your DECIDE worksheet (if salary makes it to your list of requirements), try these:

  • Analyze your position and the median salary paid to others in similar positions using the resources identified in the course.
  • Brush up your negotiation skills and outline a plan (with your research) to ask for a raise or negotiate your salary requirements.
  • Work with tools available at the IRS (and listed earlier in the course) to analyze your tax liability and ensure you are taking all of the credits and deductions you are allowed. SAM’s Money Basics: Employment course delves into this subject at length.

A Career That Meets Your Benefits Requirements

Benefits are part of your compensation package. When evaluating a job offer, make sure to look at both pay (your salary) and benefits combined. Benefits can play an important role in your financial security, especially if your employer offers a retirement plan. Some people actually will work for lower wages, as long as the benefits are good. If you need to change your employer, it pays to know which benefits you need the most so you can weigh the whole compensation package when a job offer is made.

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If benefits are among your top priorities for your career, include some of these actions:

  • Analyze which benefits your family uses most and rank them using the worksheet in this course. Don’t forget intangible benefits like working close to home so you can spend more time with your children.
  • Use online resources to research benefits common to other workers in your position. This gives you a comparison and a negotiating factor if you are switching employers.

A Career Aligned with Your Values, Interests, Aptitudes and Personality

There is a lot to consider if you want a career aligned with all of these areas. Nevertheless, even if you get close in most of them, you will be happier in your work pursuits.

Here are just a few suggestions for near-term (one year or less) and longer-term activities to meet some of these requirements:

  • Analyze your values using SAM’s LifeValues Quiz to help you understand the decisions that you make.
  • Rewrite your resume focusing on keywords and transferable skills from your online research in resources listed throughout the course. Keyword searches are used by companies with software that scans resumes and applications. Your chances for interviewing are greater when key, job-specific words are used. Remember to focus on analytical skills that can bring you more income.
  • Update your social media presence. Look to SAM’s Money Basics: Employment course for help.

A Career That Provides Professional Development and Training

Once you have an employment situation that you like, maintain your skills and enhance your value to your employer with continuous training. It helps tremendously if your employer is willing to pay for it.

To advance your skills and training:

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  • Use online resources like O*Net Online or CareerOneStop to find out what training and advanced skills others in your field have.
  • Identify training centers, courses or seminars in your area that offer educational opportunities you need. Research the price for attendance, travel and materials.
  • Prep yourself to negotiate with your employer to pay for the training. Be sure to highlight the added value it will bring to your job performance.
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