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Ditch 10 Year Career Plans

3 December 2018

When the career dreams you pursue fail to fall into line what’s your fallback position?

No one’s 10-year career plan pans out the way they imagine.  

In fact, having a 10-year plan is rarely a good plan.

That long term vision may have worked for your parents when the world of work was much more stable, but the concept of careers for life, in stable environments, is just not the reality any more.  In addition, it is impossible to know, over a 10 year period, how much you will grow and change as an individual and what career will need to look like in your life.

Instead of the 10-year plan have a career fallback plan and a career sketch plan.

A sketch plan looks like this:

Create a fuzzy picture outlining what you might like to achieve in your career over the next 3 – 6 years.  This is plan A.
Sketch out at least three possible pathways to move towards that fuzzy picture.
From these possible pathways decide on a career goal for the next 6 months.
Write and pursue this goal with gusto and enthusiasm, identifying the strategies and actions you need to take.
At the 6-month stage (during your regular career maintenance session) review and adjust your fuzzy picture, your possible pathways, and your goal in light of what is really happening.
If you find your fuzzy picture needs some tweaking then make the tweaks.
If you find your fuzzy picture is just not working out move to your fallback plan.

A fallback plan looks like this and is put in place before your sketch plan:

List at least 5 other fuzzy pictures of what you might like to achieve in your career over the next 3 – 6 years so you have a plan B, plan C, plan D, plan E, and a plan F…
Develop a plan Z for the worst-case scenario.  Include in your plan Z how you can pay the bills you really have to pay and keep food on the table if everything goes belly up. Having a plan Z helps you be more courageous as you pursue plan A.

Fallback plans are not there to support you to give up on career aspirations when things get tough.  Bringing grit, determination and courage to your career are still vital, but holding onto a 10-year plan when data tells you the path is not possible or won't meet your needs is not smart.

Having a fallback and a career sketch plan will help you be responsive, flexible and realistic with career.  We are in times when the world of work is changing at a staggeringly fast pace.  Disruption is the norm, so work on, not just in your career to stay aware of the changes that are occurring and the impact they might have on your career.

As always wishing you a flourishing career.




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