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How to Have the Best Decade of Your Career in the Roaring ’20s

Topics: Career Advice

Are you ready for the roaring ’20s? You’ve only got a few weeks left of this decade to prepare. Plan now, and make it the most awesome decade of your career so far.

flappers dancing

A hundred years ago, the 1920s gave us the rise of jazz, the Harlem Renaissance, the ratification of the 19th Amendment (granting women the right to vote) and the trans-Atlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh. (Of course, it also brought us a stock market crash, the beginning of the Great Depression and prohibition.)

What will you make of the ’20s we’re about to experience? Here’s how to make the 2020s your best decade:

Make a Plan

charlie chaplin

Let’s stop calling it a resolution. It’s time to make some big plans for your next decade. At Inc., Brian de Haaff recommends putting your vision into words:

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“I suggest that you come up with a career sentence — the overarching vision for your professional life,” de Haaff writes. “Your sentence could be specific, such as ‘Help build software that changes the way people interact with their doctors.’ Or it could be more wide-sweeping, like ‘Create positive, lasting education opportunities for disadvantaged youths.’ Once you have set your destination, you can focus on the goals that will get you there.”

Do you know your current career path? Try looking at the PayScale Career Path Planner for some potential jobs already related to your current job title. You might be surprised at how so many jobs intersect.

You can start with some “career vision” work, just like you may have done your last year of college. If it’s been a while since you sat down and made some long-term goals, then it’s definitely time to do this simple exercise.

Before the University of California: Berkeley sends out new grads, they provide them with plenty of career visualization information. The path to success involves taking some time to imagine the path you’d like to walk. It may not be easy, but the challenges involved can be realistic and ultimately rewarding. UC Berkeley even provides career planning to its employees.

You might start figuring out your next decade’s career goals by some of the following:

  • Think about what you’d do if money wasn’t a factor.
  • Think about how you define “success” in your career? Do you see a path to that point in your current job?
  • Consider what you’d do if you could create your own job description.
  • What do you want to be remembered by? What would a speech about you say are your big accomplishments?
  • Who are some people you admire? Why do you like them? Is it because of what they do, who they help, what they overcome? How can you relate to them in your own life?
  • Do you think you have particular gifts? Does your current job or career path utilize them? How would you best like to put them to use?
  • Finally, where do you see yourself in one year, five years and 10 years (when the decade is over)?

Learn New Skills

new skills

Maybe it’s time to head back to school (or at least, back to class). Learning new skills for your dream career can help you plan for your best decade. And when you look at it in terms of 10 years’ worth of learning, you can really fit a lot in.

Do you want to go back to school for a degree? In a decade you can achieve a big degree, even if you’re only going to school part-time. If you want to get an MBA, for example, there are plenty of part-time degree programs or part-time residency programs that let you learn where you live.

If you’re planning a career change, you might want to get certified in some new skills to beef up your resume. Check out online learning sites like Udemy, Coursera, Mediabistro and edX and more to learn skills from Quickbooks to coding to graphic design.

Even if you’ve decided to stay on your current career path, you should never stop learning. Courses can be a great way to utilize your company’s existing employee perks like tuition reimbursement or to get your whole team to learn some new skills together. (Your boss may even applaud your initiative if you bring the idea to them before signing up.)

Make Some New Friends

hello friend

Making friends as an adult is hard. Folks with kids can often find a friend group at school or sports practices, but even then, those true great friends can be hard to find. You might have to get out of your comfort zone to find some new connections in the coming decade, but your well-being (and yes, your career) can benefit from it.

Step 1: Do some activities you love. If you are a runner, try joining a local drop-in running group at your local running store. Try chatting with someone you don’t know at a church event. Exchange phone numbers with a friendly dog mom or dad at the dog park.

Step 2: Try to get out more! We get so insulated in our adult lives. As we get older, we might not go out for a drink after work or for a weekend excursion just to enjoy the weather outside. When you get out more, you meet people you’re not actually living with. Yes, it’s just that simple.

Step 3: Know that making new friends doesn’t mean leaving the old ones all by themselves. You can make friends as you get older and expand your circles. New friends mean new ideas, worldviews and even more fun gatherings that lead to new friends and getting outside of the house. It’s a not-so-vicious cycle!

Gaining friends not only helps your brain, it also can boost your career. Yep, it’s that little thing called networking and you’re going to need it over the next 10 years. The more friends you know, and the more diverse they are, you’ll be able to learn about different career paths, potential job openings and even just cool things going on where you live. In fact, as many as 85% of new jobs are found via networking! Go get you some new friends, right now!

Dream Big

dream big

What’s your BIG plan for the ’20s? Do you want to add a few new titles to your work signature? Start your own business? Now is the time to dream big and get going on those plans. If you’re unsure how to make something big happen, then start by breaking it down.

For example, if you know that the next job title above you requires or even recommends an advanced degree or specific experience, then work on how you’ll obtain those to get promoted.

You can manifest your big dream by writing it all down and making a plan. You can also talk to friends, coworkers and a mentor about your dreams, and ask their advice about what you’d need. Want to grow a small business? Talk to your accountant and even a business planner about what that will take. Plan regular check-ins (not just during crisis time) to keep tabs on your progress.

Remember, even runners dreaming of completing a marathon don’t just go right out and tackle 26 miles. They start slow, have a plan, and add a little bit of mileage every week for almost a year! What will you plan for the next decade?

Plan for the Worst

Sometimes it all goes south. Here’s how you can plan for the next decade in case your plans don’t work out.

house collapse
  • Be ready with savings. You’ve heard it before. You should have six months of bill payments in a “no touch” savings account. If you don’t have that already, work on filling that up with some automatic savings payments from your bank or an online account.
  • Plan for retirement. In 10 years you’ll be that much closer to retirement. Are you putting away enough? Talk to a financial planner either to decide what may need to change in the next few years. Need to get started somewhere? Check out guidelines from the U.S. Department of Labor on retirement best practices.
  • Do you live in the best place? In 10 years, will your city be doing great or not so great? If you’re ready for a move, where will you thrive? If you need to, explore career options, best pay and affordability with PayScale cost of living data and find your next home.
  • Learn from mistakes. If you were caught off guard by a layoff, big medical bill, major family crisis, or just some bad luck in the last decade, how would you plan for the future to not get hit so hard? Some long-term plans might involve downsizing, emergency planning, boosting your support network or even looking at a career that is more likely to survive recessions or big mergers.

Who Will Come Behind You? How Will You Lift Them Up?

The best way you can plan your career’s legacy is by also taking care of those who you’ll help along the way. This might be someone you mentor or even hire to fill a role that you’re leaving as you move up.


“Mentors are seen as achievers,” notes the American Society of Administrative Professionals. “As a mentor, you will automatically be seen as a leader who is willing and able to help others. You will garner respect and admiration from both your peers and those above you.”

Besides helping out someone else to achieve their own goals, getting more knowledge about your organization or job duties and gaining experience in a leadership role, studies have also shown that both mentors and mentees benefit financially from working together. Not only were they more likely to get a raise, but both were also more likely to receive promotions at work, as well.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your big plans for the next decade? We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Featured Image: Energepic/Pexels

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