Career Planning

Career Planning is often offered as a class in high school. Sometimes in college. I wonder how many people end up in the careers they originally thought they would follow. I certainly didn’t.

In high school I told my friends I was going to major in animal husbandry. I would raise and train animals. One year into college and that major had been dropped. I was now going to be an artist. I sort of followed that when I became an art teacher, yet something didn’t feel quite right. It took me 8 years of teaching before I realized, as much as I enjoyed teaching others, I didn’t like the limits and structure of the high school education system. But what to do?

One of the rules/suggestions when planning a career is to do what you enjoy. Well, I enjoyed reading, and I enjoyed writing. Duh, maybe I should try writing.

Actually, I didn’t think of writing as a career when I started. Back then all I wanted was to write one book and have it published. That, I thought, would make me happy. But, of course, once that book was published, I wanted more: more books published and some sort of recognition of my writing. So I entered contests. Made the finals in a few and won a few.

Then I wanted to try different types of writing, different publishers. A new genre.

I don’t recommend my career path to anyone. I will say I have had goals—short term and long—but I’ve never truly made any of my changes due to long-range planning. I think I’ve probably missed some opportunities due to a lack of planning, and I won’t reach some of my pipe dreams because I haven’t thought out the steps necessary to reach those levels.

Today I’m writing about this blog because I believe I’m at another stage in my career. I’m thinking of self-publishing a book. I’m not sure this is the right move to make, but I’ve heard other writers talk about their successes with self-publishing, so it’s tempting. (I’m sure there are as many equally dismal stories, but the idea of being in complete control of a book sounds good. If I fail, it will be on my shoulders.)

Of course I hope I don’t fail, so I’ve been looking on-line for information. One site I discovered was a 4-step plan for changing careers. That site suggests that no matter what stage of life you’re in (student through adulthood) if you’re going to make a career change, you need to think about four things: understanding your interests and capabilities; finding out what’s involved with this new career; deciding whether or not you really want or should make this change; and finally, taking action.

For the full article, go to:

Another good article is one written by Kathy Caprino that appeared in Forbes magazine back in October 2013. Her article is mainly directed toward women in business, but I think it could be applied to anyone. She suggests 5 steps, but the gist is pretty much the same as the other article: first you need to understand yourself, what you’re willing to do, and then you need to let go of the thinking that’s holding you back. She also suggests exploring the new career, researching it and talking to others. Finally, she states, you need to do the work that’s necessary to succeed.

To read the full article, go to:

Both articles offer good advice, so I’m off to do a little exploring.

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18 Responses to Career Planning

  1. Nancy Gideon says:

    Follow your bliss! Do what you love and love what you do – well, most of the time anyway!

  2. Great post. If it makes you feel any better, I’m thinking of self-publishing as well, primarily because I keep hearing that I need to diversify. My first dip into the self-publishing pool will be a novella.

    • Maris Soule says:

      That sounds like a good idea, Rebecca, but I have a completed ms and I always seem to end up writing too much to fit into the novella category, so I guess my first dip will be to jump right in..

  3. I’ve never self-published but know so many other writers who are doing so and are happy about it. Actually, back in the day, I thought I’d be an a singer and/or actress, but I was too shy. I also thought about commercial art as a career, but ended up painting as a hobby, becoming an English teacher, then a librarian, and now a full-time author. How’s that for variety of career choices?

    • Maris Soule says:

      Jacqueline, I love all of the careers you considered and have followed. I’m glad you are now a full-time author. We, the readers, are richer for that.

  4. Both articles sound like they give sound advice, and thinking before leaping is always a good idea. I always wanted to write, but I expected to write more nonfiction than fiction. I taught college English for several years, worked as a free-lance editor and ghostwriter, and then turned to writing only full time. Each step helped me in the next one. I tried, once, doing something I truly didn’t care about–I was terrible at it. I had a day job for years, which I loved, but it involved a lot of writing and very interesting people. I’m very lucky to have been able to do so many of the things I love over my life.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Susan, I, too, have worked (for only a short time, thank goodness) at jobs I didn’t like. What a difference in how I felt at the end of the day. So glad you’ve been able to follow your passion.

  5. Melissa Keir says:

    I’ve always wanted to be a race car driver. Unfortunately I didn’t believe I had the money to pursue that route (it takes money and family ties) so I did try a variety of things like nursing and teaching. I’m ready to spread my wings and just write.

    • Maris Soule says:

      You’re right, Melissa. There are certain realities that stop us from pursuing careers we might love. My daughter always wanted to be a dressage rider competing in the Olympics. We not only didn’t have the money for her to follow that dream, she’s only 4’11” and dressage riders (at that level) all seem to be long-legged, at least medium height, and slender. On the other hand, my daughter does compete in dressage competitions and has done quite well, so she’s been able to satisfy a part of that desire. Glad you’ve also found other careers you are passionate about.

  6. I worked in advertising, teaching and journalism before deciding to write fiction. I haven’t done career planning or goal setting. I have problems with that much organization because I have ADHD. I consider it a good day when I can check off everything on my iPhone’s To Do List. I’d be grateful for any helpful suggestions.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Jolana, since I’ve gone from one career to the next without a lot of planning, I’m not sure I could offer anything more than what’s in those articles. I’m hoping I don’t make any mistakes if I do self-publish a book.

  7. Lucy Kubash says:

    When I went to college, I thought I wanted a career in early childhood education. I did take classes with that goal in mind and worked in the field briefly before figuring out that I really didn’t like working with other people’s children all that much. I then got into retail merchandising, which I’ve done for the last 23 years. But I’m glad to be easing out of that and to have more time to devote to writing, the only thing I ever REALLY enjoyed doing. I hope I can sell something to a publisher again. Good luck with your new endeavor.

  8. Maris Soule says:

    Thank you, Lucy. You are such a good writer, I’m sure you’ll sell something soon.

  9. I dreamt all my life of becoming a published writer. When I retired at 59, I thought I’d be published within the year. Fifteen years later, I’ve finished 15 novels, shorter than average. Rejection should be my middle name. As Dana Nussio told me self-publishing won’t work unless you have already made a recognizable name for yourself. I think she’s right. I’ve published six of my novels and this month received just over $2.00 in royalties. But, you know, I can’t stop writing. Maybe I haven’t said everything that needs to be said to the world. And it is such an awesome pleasure to stay in the fantasy world of fiction.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Rohn, I know exactly what you mean about it being a pleasure to stay in the fantasy world of fiction. My characters become real and live on forever, at least in my mind. And who knows, maybe one of these days (maybe tomorrow) your work will be recognized and those checks will grow and grow.

  10. Diane Burton says:

    In high school, I wanted to be an interpreter at the United Nations–think Audrey Hepburn in Charade. That never happened. Here’s some irony, Maris, you encouraged me to try self-publishing. I’m so glad you did and I did. 🙂 I love the freedom.