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Planning a better future
Planning a better future

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6.1 Exploring opportunities

How clear do you need to be about the kind of work you want before you start exploring opportunities? One way of thinking about this is to use a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is ‘I have no idea what I want to do’ and 10 is ‘I know exactly what I want to do’. You will have the opportunity to try out this approach, but sometimes thinking about another person’s situation can be a good way to start thinking about your own. The case study below offers a brief example, which might spark your own thoughts.

Case study: Christopher

Christopher is 35 and has been unemployed for 12 months; his last job was as a pizza delivery driver for a small local company that closed down. He has since lost his driving licence due to a succession of speeding fines.

Christopher gave himself a ‘3’ on the ‘clear about work’ scale. His notes explained his thinking as follows:

I am saying ‘3’ because really I would like to go back to driving, but I do not think I can in the short term. I might have wanted to do taxi work. I know what I do not want to do – work in construction or in a shop – and that is all that seems to be on offer in my local job centre. I have thought about working as a car mechanic, because I am pretty handy at that kind of thing, but I do not know if you have to have qualifications. Perhaps I need to ask around and find out about what I need to be a mechanic. I am not an exams kind of person so that might rule me out, if you need to do that.

Activity 7

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

What do you notice about Christopher’s case? Are Christopher’s thoughts clear? Note down a few points.

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Perhaps the first thing you noticed is that Christopher’s career was disrupted when the company he worked for closed down. That’s something he had no control over. However, you might think Christopher did have control over getting the speeding fines, which led to the loss of his driving licence. Although you might feel differently if you discovered that most of those fines were incurred doing the delivery job where he was under pressure to make deliveries on time.

You might also notice that Christopher considers, but dismisses, other types of driving work – at least for now. Instead, he identifies something different, but related. He thinks he might be interested in, and suited to, working as a mechanic. However, he has gaps in his knowledge and is able to identify a key question he needs to try to answer before he can assess if it is a viable opportunity for him.

Now think in a similar way about your own situation.

Activity 8

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

This activity helps you to decide how clear you are about what you want to do, using a scale of 1 to 10, and to sort out what questions you might need to ask. On the scale, 1 represents feeling very confused about what work you want to find and 10 represents absolute certainty. Try to choose the number that best represents how you feel at the moment.

Now you have made this judgement, answer these points below to help you see why you might have rated your level of clarity in the way you did:

  1. Why did you choose the number you did?
  2. What do you now know about the kind of work you want to do?
  3. What would you like to find out about work opportunities?
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Hopefully, you found that you had some ideas about the kind of work you would like to do based on your work on the course so far. If you found yourself saying that you have no idea at all, be cautious. Is it really that you do not know? Or are you ruling yourself out of some things that might appeal to you?

Whether you are absolutely clear about what you want to do, or just have a vague idea with lots of doubts, you need to do some testing of what opportunities are available and what they might demand of you before you can start to pursue the career of your choice.

Remember, at this stage, you are not committing yourself to anything – you are just exploring the options, and can afford a bit of uncertainty. You can also afford to change your mind if your research shows that your initial ideas are not the best ones to pursue. Now that you’ve got some ideas to work on, your next task is to refine these further.