Career planning is one of those subjects that can cause a great deal of agonising in many of us – or for that matter, complete apathy.

You might have long thought that there’s no real point in having a career plan, because if you knew what you wanted to do in five or 10 years’ time, you’d be doing it now.

But at the same time, can you really expect to get to a great place in your career if you’re being merely reactive with your professional life, rather than proactive?

If you’ve been wrestling with these questions, you’re not alone! It can be really tricky to get the balance right with career planning – so here are some things to think about when you’re assessing whether to plan, or not to plan.

What are the reasons why you should plan?

Many people are dismissive of the idea of long-term planning when it comes to basically anything in life, on the grounds that it’s impossible to predict the future.

That is true. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother with any long-term career planning at all! It’s generally better in your life and career to have some kind of plan, rather than none at all – even if it’s only a partial one.

After all, even a partial plan will help to give you a sense of direction in your career. It could also help to make you more self-aware, as spending some serious time thinking about your future career could enable you to rule out some directions you had previously considered or bring in a new one.

Another extremely good reason to do long-term career planning, is the fact that to land many of the best roles, you’ll be expected to have accumulated some level of specialised ‘career capital’ over the years. By that, I mean such things as advanced sector-specific knowledge, skills and experience, and connections with key industry figures. These are things you probably won’t gain by chance alone.

But scepticism about long-term planning is also understandable

If you experience health or financial issues or a change in family circumstances it might render some or all of the plan invalid in the future.

Also fixating on one path – to the exclusion of all others – particularly early when you’re early in your career, may cause you to overlook wonderful opportunities which don’t neatly fit into any in-depth long-term plan you have right now but allow you to discover interests and talents you wouldn’t have otherwise.

After all, the world of work is full of people enjoying rewarding jobs and careers that – if you’d asked them five or 10 years ago – they might have never imagined they’d end up in.

It might therefore be best therefore, to have a well-thought through plan that give you a clear direction and a path to grow transferable skills, knowledge and contacts, but to review it  every couple of years to check it still meets who you are and want to become professionally and personally.

Don’t worry – I can help you to clear the fog!

Everyone can benefit from having a career plan. However professionals who had one but which no longer makes sense (e.g. because the next obvious upwards move is not a fit) or those who have jumped around doing a series of different roles and want to “consolidate” their direction and message to future employers, will especially benefit.

Our Career Plan Programme may be of interest to you, as you seek to clarify a way forward that makes sense for your own strengths, values and ambitions.

In short, you need never again be terrified by an interviewer asking you, “where do you want to be five years from now?”

Get in touch with me now via phone, Skype, email or LinkedIn, and let’s see how I can help you to establish some real positive and purposeful direction in your career.