I am and have always been a planner. However, this meant that sometimes I planned for the “wrong” things. I planned on a continuous career in Corporate America to move on up to the C-level for a Fortune 500 company and when I got close to where I needed to be to truly execute on that plan, I realized I was planning for the wrong thing.
This happens to many of my clients and students – the thing we think we want, when we get it, is no longer what we want. Or life happens and changes the trajectory or interest of our plan; such as you never planned on getting married and having kids and now here you are with 3+ kids and a marriage and how did that happen?
(Blogger’s Note: I only have two kids so that is not autobiographical at all).
My advice to my students, readers and clients is to plan but to plan flexibly. I recommend drawing upon those choose your own adventure books to help you plan your professional future. Remember choose your own adventure books? If you are a child of the 1980’s like me you definitely read a few or thousands of these books. You could “choose” which way to go with the character such as, “to enter the tunnel go to page 83 to go home instead go to page 30”.
Your professional planning should mimic the “choose your own adventure” book style. You need to have options and ideas for different paths and insights into what really makes you happy in order to make a plan that means anything.
In my books, I talk about reverse planning with choose your own adventure level of thought process. So, start at long term planning first and map out that 10+ year plan and then back up into the 3-5 year and 6month-1year plan. With those plans, think about other futures – alternate realities – you think you want to be a CPA and work in Accounting for 30+ years but after 3months as a junior associate at some firm you are more miserable than you have ever been in your life.
What do you do? Plan B or Plan C or Plan D-Z are things you should consider having thought of with an idea of how to execute on it. So think about how you would change careers, how you could make income from other ways, think about what your budget really needs and how you can meet that number without being suicidal.
A back up plan is needed with a back up to your back up plan. This all ties in to running your career like you are the CEO of a fortune 500 company and you are the company (learn more about this in my first book, Entrepreneur-ING – The Prof’s Guide on using Entrepreneurial Skills to Launch Your Own Business or Be the Boss of Your Career here).
What do you think about planning using the Choose Your Own Adventure Style influence to have backups for your backup plans? Happy Hunting!
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Lisa Vento Nielsen