How many times have you been asked ‘what’s your five year plan’? Do you reply with enthusiasm, happy to explain in detail your life mapped out in intricate detail, or do you inwardly groan, and wonder why so many people are so concerned about planning way into the future instead of relishing the here and now, adapting to what the future brings? Planning can be an effective way to achieve goals and help motivate towards desired outcomes however the problem is, life isn’t predictable, and the best plans in the world can’t be guaranteed to succeed in getting what you want. Where are you left then? Despondent, feeling lost, and without the career you were expecting as a result from your five year plan.
Things don’t always pan out as you’d want or expect.
Some jobs are guaranteed, right? Not the case. Nursing is one profession that is often seen to be a sure thing. ‘We’ll always need nurses’. That’s probably what the student nurses in parts of the UK thought while doing their training during several years in the last decade. But, due to major financial cutbacks in the National Health Service, many completed their training with no job opportunities available to them. The situation was so dire, some were offered six months work, to gain experience, but with no pay! Some would have taken this opportunity and then used the experience to apply for positions requiring experience to work for private health companies. For many, working for six months without an income was just not financially available, and employment away from nursing was the only option. So you see, even a ‘sure thing’ my not be just that, and no amount of planning can make it so.
Missing out on opportunities that don’t fit the plan.
Another failure of the five year plan is the potential to miss or ignore opportunities that could be great experiences or of benefit because they don’t fit in with it. Those missed opportunities could have taken you in a direction you hadn’t envisaged but could lead to a greater, more worthy and rewarding goal than you had imagined.
So, instead of a five year plan, how about deciding what it is you want to achieve in broad terms and take the first step towards this goal. Instead of a specific job or position, consider values, beliefs, strengths, interests, and what’s available at that time, and work towards and with these. For example, instead of being fixed on the specific goal of becoming a nurse, consider a career in healthcare and caring professions and pursue training, courses and employment that give you a broader spectrum of choice in these areas. You will then be more prepared to adapt to change and in a better position to take a different path, should you wish, and if the need arise.
Take stock at regular periods and assess where you have reached, what you have learnt, and what new opportunities are now available to you. Do you still want to aim for the original goal or deviate in another direction? Take what you have learnt and gained and continue repeating the steps. This way you will always be progressing towards a goal but will be open and available to new opportunities. This flexibility will help prevent disappointment and failed ambitions. You’ll also be learning to live more fluidity with the changes of life which is powerful attribute to have in your career, wherever it may lead.
Bio: Jen Smith is a Life Coach & Writer. She has tried many career paths herself and now helps people achieve their goals and dreams.