Formal requirements getting in the way of your dream career?

Formal requirements for career progression are a common barrier to professions in which a degree or a certificate of equivalent standing is a mandatory stepping stone for future growth.

The obvious challenge in obtaining the satisfactory prerequisites in education and work is the system’s general lack of flexibility in accepting substitutions.

For instance, many people who come to the United States from foreign countries and wish to practice medicine find that the US system is extraordinarily rigid in accepting foreign qualifications.  High-ranking medical practitioners can easily find themselves in a position where none of their previously existing professional accreditation are accepted by the new system.

In any instance, two aspects of overcoming the formal requirement barrier are crucial:

  1. Timely preparation, which includes a thorough research of the target system’s rules and standards, formal requirements, and key individual(s) whose expertise is commonly accepted as credible and trustworthy.
  2. An accelerated completion curriculum;
      a) Your limited resources will need to be very closely managed (perhaps with outside help) in order to make satisfying the requirement plausible; so consider an adviser, a mentor, or a social circle of people who possess the degree, certification, specialized training, practice, or experience which you are pursuing.  Without this network, your chances for insider knowledge are minimal, and you are likely to miss key opportunities or loopholes that may exist in the inner circle.
      b) The principle of concentration of effort suggests that it’s best to fulfill requirements full-time and as quickly as possible – anything worth doing is worth doing sooner, rather than later.  If you have the means to go to school, training, certification, or intensive self-study full-time according to a structured curriculum, do it.  There is no substitute for immersion. Many people fall for the false security of part-time efforts thinking that they will “do it in the meantime and finish it when I get the chance.”  Seldom does everything go exactly according to plan.  Assuming that your career is the direction you’ve committed to long-term and the requirements pending are milestones for getting there, you must commit the full spectrum of your available resources to the pursuit of that opportunity.
      c) Consider all possible substitutions or alternate routes to see if in the long-term it may be more economical to invest in the alternatives.  In other words, if the very thing you are trying to accomplish (a degree, position, or career direction) is a stepping stone in itself on the way to something else, and you are being blocked by formal requirements outside the scope of your available resources, it may make sense to pursue the end results via alternate means.

Though the circumstances of each situation are going to be different, several common principles can safely be accepted:

1.  Again – anything that’s worth doing is worth doing sooner, rather than later. You never know when or how the circumstances of your life may change and the window opportunity will close.
2.  There is no substitute for immersion!  Do not put off doing what you really want to do for the sake of shoulds.  By doing so, you compromise your position in the world both in the practical sense of putting off achieving, as well as in the spiritual sense of foregoing that which is most important for the sake of something less important.
3.  “Different is better when it’s more effective or more fun.”  ~ Tim Ferris, 4-hour work week.  Do not assume that the only way to do what you want is through satisfying the rigid formal requirements.  Challenge those assumptions by recognizing that the modern world awards multiple unique opportunities for doing old things in new ways that did not exist yesterday.  Even more will exist tomorrow.
4.  Know your stuff. Obviously, this should go without saying and should really be #1 on this list.  Unless you are well versed in the rules and standards of that which already exists, you cannot find creative ways to bend them.
5.  Carry on in spite. Do NOT allow present-moment restrictions paralyze you from pursuing the desired direction of growth you have selected for yourself.  Find ways to adapt and continue learning and expanding your perspective even if your reach is temporarily restricted.  New direction will present itself only if it is constantly tested.
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~ by TheZov on August 18, 2009.

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