career planning

You may think that ‘career planning’ doesn’t apply to you, but all it means is taking a strategic view of what lies ahead work-wise. Like anyone travelling a trip, or putting to sea for a sailing holiday, preparation is key.

Career planning here doesn’t mean plotting a course from job to job. That’s probably not possible with the work-landscape constantly evolving. But you can make sure you are ready for the journey ahead by ensuring that you have the skills you need to give yourself the best chance of success.

You may not know what the future years hold, but one thing which is certain is that change is happening. Qualities like personal adaptability, a positive outlook, and a ‘can-do’ attitude are going to be deciding factors in helping you get ahead.

Personal development

Education systems equip students with technical skills and knowledge of their subjects. Your development as a person – self-awareness, social skills, confidence, problem-solving etc. – was left to chance.

Your future employers will assume that you know your subject, the evidence provided by your qualifications and your CV. But surveys show that employers are also looking for personal qualities like attitude, resilience and the ability to work independently.

How to develop these skills

Many of the skills you already have as you’ve developed them in education, work, or social contexts.They enable you to be flexible, adaptable, and to cope with change, sand they transfer well to the work environment.

These skills involved can be summed up collectively as ’emotional intelligence’.

Emotional Intelligence is a set of skills which determine how well you handle yourself in life and in general. It relates to personal conduct, social skills and even your popularity. No surprises then that it is becoming the vital asset for people who want to advance in their careers, or do well in their field.

Don’t mistake this for bloggy speculation. New research has now made it official. A key finding from World Economic Forum in their report The Future of Jobs Report 2018 is “Emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence, as well as service orientation, will also see an outsized increase in demand relative to their current prominence”.

IQ and social skills

We all know what Intellectual intelligence is, to a point where we often over-estimate its importance. We also all know of highly intelligent people who don’t handle themselves very well; they are not good in social relationships for example, or they have difficulty in communicating with others.

Examples of this are the brilliant but self-absorbed professor who seems unaware of others’ feelings, or the rich and successful business tycoon. Successful, that is, in everything but human relationships.

Just as important as conventional IQ, the sort of intelligence that gets measured in those tests many of us did in school, is Emotional Intelligence.

Popularity and performance

It influences your popularity, your performance, your ability to motivate yourself and others, and even the quality of your relationships and how you bring up your children.

Although psychologists have been talking about this for several decades, Emotional Intelligence – often shortened to EI – is a relatively new idea in popular culture.

Daniel Goleman who wrote the book which popularised the notion of emotional intelligence said that “There is zero correlation between IQ and emotional empathy… They’re controlled by different parts of the brain”. He proposed that factors other than conventional IQ determine how ‘clever’ we really are.

He defined EI as “the ability to monitor your own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide your thinking and actions”.

Feelings as well as thoughts

In other words, being able to recognise our feelings as well as our thoughts – and simultaneously to be aware of others’ feelings – are key skills. They enable us to respond more appropriately and empathetically to others, and to gain insight into our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.

The relationship factor

And this matters because emotional intelligence is about how people and relationships function, how well we get on with others, and how well we manage stress, pressure and demand.

This is particularly important at work because, in addition to being about how we handle ourselves, EI also affects teamwork, management skills and leadership. Not surprisingly, Emotional Intelligence can have a significant impact on your career.

That’s why it’s vital to understand what it is, and its importance in the workplace.

Emotional Intelligence makes you a better communicator, helps you perform better, enables you to motivate yourself and others, and it even affects how others feel about you; how popular you are.

And it’s not just about individuals. In a broader sense, organisations can be said to be Emotionally Intelligent too.

The EI workplace

While career planning is a personal matter, your development as a person inevitably affects your relationships at work. An Emotionally Intelligent workplace is one where staff are able to develop positive working relationships so they can cooperate together to maximum effectiveness. This can only increase the organisation’s success, and the sense among staff that they are respected, valued and appreciated for their contributions.

And that, of course, starts with individuals being sufficiently self-aware and emotionally competent to function well as part of a cohesive unit, a team.

And you too…

It’s not just about career planning. It goes without saying that the transferable skills of EI can benefit your personal life too.

The impact on happiness, health and prosperity is well established, and Emotional Intelligence even contributes to a person’s levels of satisfaction and contentment.

If you have children or expect to, it’s worth noting that emotionally intelligent parents tend to raise emotionally intelligent children. This makes the whole business of parenting easier and more satisfying and gives the kids a better start in life.

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I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.


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