30 Day Financial Transition Challenge Day 5: Invest in Your Career

Welcome to Day Five of the 30-Day Financial Transition Challenge. Today’s article focuses on the concept of investing in your career, which is the fifth of the Five Fundamentals of Fiscal Fitness.

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) 

Your single biggest asset is your ability to create value over the course of your lifetime.  For most people, that means having a productive career and maximizing your earnings potential.  However, it could mean the ability to volunteer, start your own business, or do things that you feel are important to you.  Whatever the priority is, you should spend some time evaluating what you can do to maximize your potential.

Why? 

People often ‘plod’ through the course of their career, always wondering why they never get the good opportunities that others do.  What those people fail to realize is that success occurs when preparation meets opportunity.  If you invest in your abilities, you’ll be more likely to recognize & take advantage of opportunities when they come your way.

Goal 

Today, your objective is to:

  • Have a defined career-related goal (second career, start a business, go back to college, etc). For the purpose of this article, your ‘career’ doesn’t necessary have to be a job.  If your goal is to volunteer within the community, you can still go through this exercise to see what your community needs, and how you can improve your ability to add value.
  • Figure out some of the big steps that you need to get to that goal
  • Map out what efforts you can put into motion to get started
  • Develop a focused plan for ONE of those efforts. This plan should consist of actionable steps that you can take over the next 1-3 months.

You’re not going to solve the world’s problems today.  However, this effort will ultimately go into your 5-year plan, which we’ll cover in Day 6.  For now, we’re strictly focused on what you are going to do when it comes to your career.

Relevant articles

What you need

For this exercise, you need:  Nothing.  This is purely an exercise to help determine the way-forward.  Some of these questions will frame upcoming actions, particularly as you start thinking about your five year plan.

How-to

To shape your planning efforts, below is a checklist of questions you can go through.  If you’re married, you should definitely plan to go through this checklist as a joint effort, even if only one of you plans to work outside the home.

  1. Am I financially independent, or will I need additional income?  If I need additional income, do I need to start immediately?  This question might seem silly to some people.  However, if you’re planning to ‘take some time off’ after your career, you might be in a different position from someone who needs to hit the deck running.  Figure out which category you fall in.
  2. If I’m not financially independent, what are my income goals?  What trade-offs am I willing to make?  You’re going to want to figure out what you want to do.  Are you a ‘work-to-live’ kind of family, or are you looking to make as much as you can.  Here’s where you start thinking about trade-offs you (and your family) are willing to make.  Many times, the difference between success and stagnation can be traced to the trade-offs that people weren’t aware of (and wouldn’t have consciously made).  Here are some shaping questions:
  • Can I meet these income goals with my ‘ideal job,’ or will I need to make trade-offs?
  • If I need trade-offs, what am I willing to do? Example:  change locations, work 60+ hours/week, long commute
  • Am I going to ‘get a job,’ or am I going to do something else (i.e. start a business, go back to school)?
  • Am I instantly hireable into this type of job, or will I need to qualify for it?
  1. If you’re looking to instantly get hired, have you:
  • Started your checklist of must-do items for job-searching?
  • Is your checklist executable (i.e. do you have have enough time to go through it before your transition)?
  • Do you have enough savings to guide you through the transition process (Day 2)
  • Do you have a contingency plan in case you don’t get your ‘ideal’ job? Or any job?
  1. If you plan to do something else (go to school, start a business, take time off):
  • Do you have an ‘end date?’
  • For school or sabbatical, when do you plan to finish?
  • For a business, do you have a ‘no-later-than date’ for viability?
  • Do you have enough money to make it through to your end date?
  • Have you developed a contingency plan?
  • Do you have access to liquidity if you run out of money for school or your business?
  • Can you start while you’re still on active duty? (side hustle)
  1. What does your first year look like? Do you need to:
  • Do any training?
  • Get your resume ready?
  • Do networking within your community? If so, local or professional?
  • Get a license?
  1. Can you break this down into actionable steps? Here are some ways to start:
  • What can you do over the next 3 months?
  • What are the first 5 steps you need to take?
  • Are there certain milestones? If so, can you assign due dates to them?

To wrap up, today you’re going to:

  • Have a defined career-related goal (second career, start a business, go back to college, etc). For the purpose of this article, your ‘career’ doesn’t necessary have to be a job.  If your goal is to volunteer within the community, you can still go through this exercise to see what your community needs, and how you can improve your ability to add value.
  • Figure out some of the big steps that you need to get to that goal
  • Map out what efforts you can put into motion to get started
  • Develop a focused plan for ONE of those efforts. This plan should consist of actionable steps that you can take over the next 1-3 months.

Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the importance of having a 5-year plan.  We’ll discuss how the steps you’ve taken so far will be a cornerstone of your 5-year plan, and how you can use that plan for the rest of the steps you’ll take.

 

 

 

 

 

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About Forrest Baumhover

I'm a career naval officer, and a fee-only financial planner. Half-way through my career, I discovered that I had a passion for financial planning, and have pursued this as my second career. My specialty is working with military professionals who are looking to separate or retire from the service, and who feel they need some professional guidance to make sure they're on track.
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3 Responses to 30 Day Financial Transition Challenge Day 5: Invest in Your Career

  1. Pingback: 30 Day Financial Transition Challenge Day 7: Job Risk Mindset

  2. Pingback: 30 Day Financial Transition Challenge Day 15: College Planning

  3. Pingback: 30 Day Financial Transition Challenge Day 24: Employment - Military in Transition

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