Aligning Your Career Skills With Your Life Goals

For many, life consists of professional goals and personal aspirations. These take turns in importance depending on the stage of life that you’re in. For instance, in college, you may need to focus on the preparation of your career. At other times in the future, things like marriage or starting a family could take precedence over professional responsibilities.

However, if you make an effort, you can also get the two priorities to overlap at times, as well. One of the simplest ways to do this is to find areas where your career skills overlap with your life goals.

The Values Of Goals And Skills

Before diving into examples of how career skills and life goals can overlap, it’s worth taking a minute to consider what we’re talking about here. After all, words like these are thrown about way too often with little to no thought about what they truly mean to an individual person.

Goals are a major part of the modern, scientifically-informed human life. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to succeed at work, choose a career based on personal health concerns, start a family, or anything else. People set up goals left and right throughout their lives — and that’s a good thing, too. When used in moderation, goals can:

  • Keep you oriented toward positive, forward-thinking results.
  • Enhance your quality of life.
  • Help you overcome challenges.
  • Improve decision making.
  • Motivate, drive, and give you a sense of purpose.
  • Provide clarity and focus.

Skills are a bit of a different animal — though equally important. Without skills, you wouldn’t be able to function. From the moment you take your first breath, you’re developing a large variety of skills that span the gamut. Everything from cutting with scissors to computer programming must be learned, developed, and honed. This is done over time and with practice.

In the work world, in particular, skills tend to be broken down into three categories:

  • Hard skills – These are quantifiable, teachable skills that are typically required to do specific jobs.
  • Soft skills –  Also known as adaptive skills, these are personal attributes that you use to navigate life, and they tend to be both subjective and difficult to measure.
  • Transferable skills – This oft-forgotten category includes any skill, soft or hard, that can travel with you as you move from point A to point B.

Both skills and goals are important aspects of living life. The latter gives us a road map to orient ourselves while the former equips us with the tools to reach those goals.

Examples Of Aligning Career Skills And Life Goals

Skills and goals are often considered in separate contexts from one another. However, when you make an effort to align your professional skills with your life goals, it can create synergistic results. Here are a couple of examples of ways that career skills can help propel you toward the goals that you set in life.

If you’re professionally stranded on the homefront during the coronavirus pandemic, this can create the perfect environment to cross skills and goals. A good idea is to find online courses and lectures that are of interest to your career, and video lectures are a useful tool for learning any skill or even studying complex material and preparing for important exams.

Working or even studying from home provides the perfect opportunity to practice career soft skills like organization, discipline, and communication. It also gives you a chance to figure out how to set boundaries with others by establishing things like at home “work hours” and a dedicated space to operate from within your living space.

As you develop these skills, they can naturally align with a variety of long-term life goals, such as working remotely full-time, managing a healthy work-life balance, or even retiring early.

Another good example is trying to increase your productivity at work. You can hone this career skill by avoiding multitasking, taking regular breaks, and getting more active. Interestingly, all of these can directly attribute to life goals like increasing mindfulness or improving and maintaining your mental and physical health.

The Synergy Starts With You

The important thing to realize with all of the above examples is that they take a conscious effort from you in order to become a reality. Career skills and life goals won’t necessarily align unless you take some time to nudge them in the right direction.

So take that time today. Grab a piece of paper and a pen or open up a note app and then size up your life goals. Consider writing the top ten goals down in a list format. Then create a second list of your top career skills. You can even make two lists of skills — one that you already have and another that you want to develop.

Then look for areas where your career skills can help you work toward life goals. If this happens with an existing skill, then consider how you can build on your current knowledge. If it happens to be a skill that you haven’t worked on, research how you can start to learn more and start practicing. If you can do this, you should begin seeing the results in both areas of your life before long.

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