Using Online Courses to Enhance Career Planning

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  • How online courses can assist you in career planning.
  • The “Legacy Exercise” that can assist you in finding trends that can lead to future career planning success.
  • Lessons learned from doing the exercise.
  • Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Additional information can be found on my disclaimers page.

I scroll through the Instagram and Facebook feeds viewing continuous Entrepreneur Memes, telling me I need to focus on developing myself and my career planning ideas. The world is in transition and as comfortable as we were in the pre-COVID world, things will never be the same. 

In response to a 60 day addition to our deployment, I have decided to focus my free time towards online courses. My girlfriend sent me a link to Coursera. Coursera is an online platform that culls some of the top university courses from multiple universities worldwide and make them available online. 

Their mission statement is, “We envision a world anyone, anywhere can transform their life by accessing the world’s best learning experience.” They live up to their mission. Coursera offers individual courses, specialization clusters of courses, professional certificates, even online degrees through multiple accredited universities.  

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“We envision a world anyone, anywhere can transform their life by accessing the world’s best learning experience.”

-Coursera Mission Statement-

Online Learning Platforms

Many of Coursera’s courses you can audit for free, getting access to much of the information. By paying for the course, you can get access to the complete course, assignments and certificates of completion. The certificates can be linked to your LinkedIn Profile. This can help as in your post military career planning.

I love to learn, I already have access to Masterclass, CreativeLive, PROEDU. My introduction to this style of learning was CreativeLive in 2011. CreativeLive was created in 2010. It is the brainchild of Commercial Photographer Chase Jarvis, but that is a conversation for another day. 

Back to the here and now. I signed up for a Psychology course from Yale called, “The Science of Well Being.” Thus far, I have enjoyed first two weeks of the course. I signed up for a specialization through Wharton Business School called, “Achieving Personal and Professional Success.”

Having not completed either course. However, I have found the exercises very useful in helping me define my future and ideas of success. This of course is the idea behind this blog. 

The Legacy Exercise 

This week for the Wharton’s Success class, I had to complete a “Legacy Exercise.” By coincidence this happens to build on my previous post, “Identify your strengths to Increase you Happiness.” In that post I discuss the History test from Pat Flynn’s book, Will it Fly. Similar to the History test, that looks at your past positions, the Legacy exercise looks at the three most influential people in your life.  

The idea behind tests are to allow you to examine your past experiences for both the positive and negative aspects. When you can clearly identify and label these experiences, you can better understand they can be applied to your career planning.

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This exercise was inspired by the journal that Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor kept between 170 to 180 A.D. while he fought against the Barbarian tribes along Rome’s northern borders. The journal was found in 1558 and published into a book called The Mediations. [Amazon] It has since become a staple of Stoic literature.

Marcus Aurelius started his journal making note of what was important in his life and how to best live. His journal begins by listing what he had learned from the people who cared most about him.  He notes in the opening line of The Mediations, “From my Grandfather Verus, I犀利士 learned good morals and to govern my temper.”

For this lesson, you had to write a short paragraph, between 1-200 words for three different people. I chose to write about my mother, father and then grouped all my soccer coaches together. If you want to see my responses to this exercise click here.

Lessons Learned

  1. A Page. A Paragraph. A Sentence. When done properly, it is actually quite difficult to get your response down to 1-200 words. For each of the three I stated out with a page and reduced down to the key lessons. If I were to further focus these down I might try to reduce them to a sentence. In order to do that, I would have to be very clear and concise with my ideas and language.
  • I tend to only remember the good. When reflecting on my pass, I tend to remember the positives, even with the negative memories. The negatives aspects may be obstacles or tough lessons. Looking back, I naturally focused on the lessons learned and positive aspects rather than the negative. Maybe that is just me. This may be how I am wired or a condition of my environment. I realized that when I think of future obstacles, I will only remember the positive attributes. To continue to grow I need to continue to push myself outside of my comfort zone.       
  • Growth requires being uncomfortable. Each of these lessons were on the back end of a traumatic experience. The loss of my mother, the loss of my father, the loss of my identity as a soccer player. When I was a kid my parents’ divorce was very traumatic. A lot of my relationship fears come from that period in my life. One of aspects I learned from my father through this exercise was the power of consistently showing up. Trust, reliance and ultimately love start with just showing up. That lesson was born out of my parents’ divorce and my father coming to pick us up regularly after work. At the time I had no idea that I would now view that the way I do.   
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These lessons and incites are powerful as you look toward the future. The more I examine my past experience and the more I learn about myself. That information can be applied to what I want to do after my military service. 

I can find a way to succeed in the future by looking at my past. Through these exercises I have realized that no one succeeds on their own. There are multiple role models, mentors, and people who took a chance behind every successful individual. It is what you do with your chances when they present themselves that decides your fate. 

For now, I will continue to develop my strengths and clarity for my future endeavors. Short courses like this, allow you to expand your skillset or get certifications can prepare you for future opportunities. When those opportunities present themselves, I will be ready to take and execute on them.   

Did you do this exercise? What did you learn? Have you done this exercise or one similar? If so, share what you learned in the comments below. I am genuinely interested in how these exercises help others.  



  • Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

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