Find the full career planning series here.
*The most important sections in each article are marked with ★’s.
Goal this week
Last week, you finished your plan. Now it’s time to focus on execution.
How to execute successfully is not our main focus at 80,000 Hours, but there are a lot of other great resources that can help you.
That said, the goal of this article is to take you through the most essential steps to overcome procrastination and get started.
★Define next actions
To put your plan into practice, you’ll want to pursue your most promising next career moves from Section 5.2.2 of your template — especially your Plan A.
Most of your effort will go into your best-guess next career move, but it often makes sense to pursue several initially, and then pick one once you have concrete offers.
To get into your next career moves, what do you need to do? Email a professor? Set up a meeting? Start a side project? Read a book? Make a demo?
(You may also have more steps for investigating uncertainties from Part 7 that you haven’t done yet. You can also add these to your list of next actions.)
Convert your answers into very concrete, small next actions. This makes them feel more manageable.
Write out what you’re going to do and when you’ll do it. Setting ‘implementation intentions‘ makes it significantly more likely that you’ll follow through.
Starting small can make it easier to get started and begin a success spiral. Every time you take one small step, take a second to feel good about it. Get momentum, and keep going.
There are lots of great tips out there for achieving your goals. One framework we like is ‘WOOP‘.
Another thing that can really help you keep taking steps toward your goals is getting an accountability buddy to help you.
See more tips on staying motivated and being productive here.
Before we move on, write down a list of next actions and plan for when you’ll do them in Section 8.1 of your template. Put reminders in your calendar.
How to get jobs
We have an article with tactical advice on how to get a job.
One key point is to ensure that you submit enough applications. A typical job application process has a success rate of a couple of percent, so to ensure you’ll get a job, you’ll usually need to aim to pursue at least 30 realistic options.
To avoid the common pitfalls of underconfidence and overconfidence, some of your applications should be for ‘stretch’ options, and some should be ‘safe’ options.
Doing lots of applications, while often unpleasant, is also one of the most useful things you can do to gain information about which options you have a good fit with. If you’re not getting rejected often, then you may not be being ambitious enough.
That said, there is also a lot you can do to increase the chances of an application being successful. The key point here is to find ways to prove you can do the work, and to find jobs through connections rather than open applications if possible. See more in the full article.
The most useful steps in figuring out your plans, finding jobs, and following through usually involve meeting people and teaming up with others who want to have an impact.
We have some tips on how to meet more people who can help you have an impact in Section 6 of our article on how to be successful in any career.
We are also a part of the effective altruism community, a group of people who want to use evidence and reasoning to maximise the positive impact of their careers and other resources. If you’d like to get involved, find out more.
We listed a few other communities to consider in Part 3 of this series.
Succeed in your role
Once you’ve started a job, internship, or graduate programme as part of your plan, how can you increase your chances of success, and enjoy your career as you go?
Again this is not our main focus at 80,000 Hours, but we have a few resources that might help:
Get one-on-one advice
If you’ve gone through this series, and you want to use your career to help solve any of the problems we prioritise most highly, we want to help you do it.
Our one-on-one team can help you resolve your remaining uncertainties, point out extra options, and introduce you to mentors, jobs, or funding to put your plan into action.
Get free one-on-one advice
Or join our community
Another way to get help with your plan is to get involved in the effective altruism community, which we’ve been a part of since 2011. There are virtual and in-person events around the world, where people discuss how to use reason and evidence to find the best ways to tackle global problems, and work together to take action.
Learn how to get involved