The Other Side Of Career Planning

If it hasn't been apparent from eighteen months of writing about it, I'm very big on career planning.  I'm all for the organized life plan, the schedule, the milestones everything.  I don't think it's because I'm a Project Manager – though the experience probably doesn't hurt.

We all know why we're supposed to plan our careers:

  • It helps us get things done.
  • It helps us set and reach goals.
  • It lets us evaluate and measure progress.
  • Our lack of organization doesn't drive our friends and family nuts.

In that list, and in most of our minds, there is one thing missing about just why we plan our careers and indeed our lives.

That is because our plans also tell us what we're not doing.

When you make a plan you have to chose what to do and when to do it.  You have to evaluate actions and choices, and exclude many possible activities and paths.  You zero in on what you have to do by making a choice – and that choice is not just to do something, but NOT do a lot of other things.

So as you carry out your career plan you not only know what you're doing, you understand very well why you didn't make other choices.  If those other choices come up again, you're less likely to be distracted by them because you already made a choice not to take them.  If distracting paths arise, chances are you already evaluated them – and rejected them.

Your planning has given you a great experience in deciding what not to do.

That gives you the space to get things done that are really important to you.

– Steven Savage