Monday, June 15, 2009

Tree Charts & You...A Visual Approach to Planning for the Future

(Click on picture for better view.)

Confused on what your next step is? Lost in a sea of options and decisions? Here's a strategy for getting yourself organized. Shown above is what I like to refer to as a tree chart (I honestly just made that up, but bear with me). This little guy (or gal) is a great way to visualize different options for your near future.

The first step for making a tree chart is to figure out your goals. Some of your main goals may be to graduate by May 2010, attend graduate school, work for Company X, and travel. Your next step is to start your diagram with what is going on right now. This coming semester will you be studying abroad, doing a co-op, or taking classes? From there you can start branching off your options.

The last step of this diagram is to go through and make notes on important factors that may influence your decisions one way or the other. Make a small pros and cons list under each bubble that details things like how each decision will affect your financial situation, overall happiness, and how valuable you feel the experience will be for you.

It may seen a little silly, but charts like these can really clarify things. It's easy to get caught up in an idea of what you think you should do when it may just be easier to take a different route to that same goal. An example of how I applied this to my own tree chart is when I was deciding whether or not to study abroad this summer. Since I had already studied abroad in the past, but knew I still wanted to go overseas again in the near future, I weighed how studying abroad versus traveling after graduation would affect my overall plan. When I really thought about it, I didn't necessarily want to study abroad again and would be in a much better position to afford a trip overseas after doing an internship for the summer before my graduation. Also, the study abroad I was looking at was based on research in a lab. Since doing research is far from my area of interest, I had one more reason that using a study abroad program to go overseas would have been the wrong choice for me because it didn't fit my area of interest.In addition to this, it would have been a big commitment of money and time.

This chart is only a start to ones that you could make for yourself. Really feeling nerdy? Try making a weighted system for your pros and cons list. Tools like charts and just writing down your goals or thoughts can make a huge difference! While doing this may not give you the answers to your life right away, it will help you figure out what is feasible for your future.

Like always,

Good Luck Job Seekers!

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