Changing Careers

Career Planning: how to design your career and life

May 20, 2020

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Prefer to read? The transcript is below 🙂

Hey, it’s Iris and welcome to my channel.

In this video, I’m going to answer a question I received from one of my clients the other day. That question is… “how far ahead ‘should’ I plan in my career and life?”  

Great question…

But before I do that, please like this video if you like it and subscribe to my channel. It’ll help me to get this video out to more people, AND it tells me exactly what type of content you’re finding helpful.

So, let’s dive right in.

Maybe the following story resonates with you….

You’re in your late 20s, 30s, maybe even 40s… and when you look at your career, you feel a bit meh. Sure, you have achieved some great things, and you’ve made a lot of progress since you came fresh out of uni, but… it’s just not turned out the way you’d hoped. 

Maybe you’d wish you were further along, or had achieved more by now. 

Maybe you’d imagined having found – and doing – your dream job by now. 

Maybe you’d thought you’d be earning more money, or feeling more satisfied with what you’re doing. 

I see a lot of people who feel this way after having worked for a while. 

And they all have something in common. They did roughly the same thing. 

They took the job they got offered after uni, focused on doing well, and responded to opportunities that came their way. 

Sounds like a decent thing to do, right? 

Well, unfortunately, that’s not the case.

What they failed to do is plan their career.

They’ve let their career take the reins and responded to what was in front of them.

They’re following a path simply because it’s there, but they’ve never really asked themselves if that’s the path they want to be on. If it’s the right path for them. 

So, after 10, 15, or even 20 years, they start to wonder where on earth they’ve ended up. 

That’s why it’s really important to plan your career. 

BUT, planning your career is tricky. 

We all know that the further in the future we go, the harder it is to plan. It’s harder to plan what your career is going to be like in 10 years, than it is in 1 year. It’s harder to plan steps that you’re going to take 9 years from now, than it is to plan steps that you’re going to take 9 months from now. 

So, here are 2 tips to help you plan your career 

TIP #1: stick to a direction

As a rule of thumb, make specific plans for the year ahead, but for anything further into the future, stick to a direction that you’d like to move in. 

So, set some time apart, and get a really good idea of what you’d like your career to be like in, let’s say, 5 – 10 years from now. Timing doesn’t need to be super strict – this isn’t about setting goals like “On 1 September 2028, I’ll have achieved X,Y, or Z”. 

More so, visualise the kind of things you’d like to do and where you’d like to be.

For example, would you want to be your own boss? Work for the likes of Google, Facebook, Spotify, Virgin, Amazon, Disney? Or work for an exciting start-up? Have published a book? Be a well-respected face in your industry who gets invited to speak at conferences around the world? Have a successful blog or vlog? Work remotely, so you can move to the countryside with your family? 

You don’t need to meticulously plan these things out to a T, but instead, think about every step that you take, and every decision that you make, and ask yourself: does this help me to get closer to getting the type of career that I want? 

This is so much more powerful and effective than planning every step of the way. 

Tip #2: remain open-minded

It’s easy to become too rigid when we start planning our career, and become tunnel visioned on the things we set out to achieve. If we try to plan every step of the way, we easily limit ourselves and fail to spot unforeseen opportunities when they arrive. 

Career planning is about finding that delicate balance of knowing the direction in which you’re heading, but at the same time being flexible and open-minded to things that come your way. 

Sometimes, the best opportunities are the ones we never expected, and certainly never planned for. 

Sure, life can throw us curveballs, but life can also throw us unexpected and pleasant surprises and opportunities. 

We just need to be able to spot them when they happen. We need to stay open-minded. 

That means…

  • Saying YES to things that scare you

  • Questioning the ‘logical’ next step

  • Helping people out, even if you don’t directly benefit from it

  • Having conversations with strangers

  • Doing things just because you enjoy them, without an agenda

  • Always trying new things out, and learning new things

Try not to control everything, and be open to new experiences, because – in the words of Tina Seelig, Stanford professor and best-selling author on innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity:

“interesting things often occur when you are open to taking an unexpected turn, to trying something different, and when you are willing to question the rules others have made for you.” 

So, when planning your career, remember this: 

Planning every step of the way is HARD, if not pretty much impossible. So don’t do it!

Instead,  

  • Get a good idea of what you’d like your career to be like in 5 – 10 years, get a good idea of the direction you want to move in. Then, ask yourself what things you can do within the next year to get a little bit closer to those things

  • And at the same time, remain open-minded to unforeseen opportunities and experiences.

And don’t forget to have fun at it

That’s all I got for you today. If you liked it, click that thumbs up button!

Next week, I’ll be talking about making a career change in your 30s or 40s – are you too old to realistically make a change, go back to school and start in a field that you have zero experience in? You’ll find out next week, so make sure you subscribe to my channel if you want to know the answer to that question. 

Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you again next Wednesday! 

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