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It’s that time of year when so many people resolve to lose weight, stop smoking, eat healthier and so on. These are all worthy agendas.

For those of you who aspire to become skilled trade workers – or are thinking of doing so – I have some suggestions for equally worthy New Year Resolutions.

  1. Pull the trigger in deciding how you want to make a living. Do you really want to go to college, or do you find working with tools more enjoyable?
  2. If the latter, then read everything you can about trade careers. This is easier than ever to do thanks to the internet. Simply go online and do a search on “trade careers” and other relevant key words. Pick out what’s relevant and learn all you can.
  3. Talk to trade workers you respect and their employers. Listen to what they like about their work and their suggestions about how to find work that gets you started in a trade career.
  4. Pinpoint a trade you would like to specialize in. You may be a mechanically inclined “jack of all trades” with a variety of tools and capable of performing all kinds of handyman work around the home. Yet to truly advance your career, you’ll need to specialize in a narrower field. Do you want to be a plumber, electrician, HVAC technician, carpenter or whatever?
  5. After you decide on a specialty, investigate training opportunities, whether it be a vocational school, on-the-job training with an employer, apprenticeship programs, etc. Then start applying for entry.
  6. Start planning to make it happen based on your life situation. If you’re paying rent and holding down a job, make out a budget factoring in tuition, school vs. work hours, etc. If it seems unaffordable, can you make ends meet by taking on a roommate or moving in (or staying) with parents?
  7. Get in shape, or stay in shape. Yes, that’s a conventional New Year Resolution made by people from all walks of life – but it’s especially important for someone embarking on a trade career, which is more physically demanding than a desk job. I’m not a fitness fanatic, but I do belong to a health club and try to use it several times a week just to maintain a semblance of good health. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is an upsurge of new faces at the facility during the month of January. Then, as the weeks go by, one by one they fade away. By mid-February, I’m usually working out with the same people I’ve seen for years. Stay with it. You’ll be happier and healthier for the rest of your life.