We all need direction in life and while it may be hard to focus on a consistent set of milestones or a long checklist of objectives to accomplish once you’re fresh off your studies and ready for your first application, there’s a reason that some of the most successful public figures today all followed through with a solid plan before anything else.
Take note that if you fail to plan for your career, if you can’t decide on your first job or if you can’t settle on a career direction that’s clear and concise, you may face consequences that could have been avoided.
As a young talent at the beginning of your professional journey, there should be some opportunities for you to explore different options and some leeway for you to make mistakes/ experience career learning curves through trial and error.
However, there’s a difference between being flexible or openminded and being completely clueless or having no direction. Still, need convincing? Here are a few ways failing to plan can compromise your chances at success.
You might not be able to visualise your future
In the grand scheme of things, plans can help set your mind on a vision that you yearn to turn into reality. If you don’t have a grasp on the end goal, you may venture off too far away from your best career paths. By focusing on the future that you want, you can form a clearer picture of what needs to come first.
Are you aspiring to go into economics in a vibrant part of the globe? Well, maybe an internship at a small finance outfit in Malaysia might be a good idea. Do you see yourself becoming a master of the culinary arts? Maybe that job opportunity in Australia is worth the trip after all. Through proper planning techniques and undeterred direction, your dreams can be sharpened, focused and turned into achievable realities.
Your chances at gathering related experience may be hindered
Travelling the world and experiencing new life-changing things can be pretty different from career-related experience (which takes a special set of skills, abilities and knowledge to attain). By failing to plan for your budding career, you may get distracted by unnecessary “side-quests” and in the end, you could have wasted time on odd jobs that got you nowhere or setting out into a field only to realise that it had no relevance to where you wanted to be in the first place. In order to solidify your career goals, you should have a well-established direction and a sense of what you want to eventually achieve now that school’s out. Be specific!
You might have a much harder time establishing yourself
Even if you have a sense of what you want to do career-wise, skipping the planning process and jumping headfirst into the deep end could prove overwhelming. Think of career development as a slow and arduous journey and take calculated steps towards achieving your goals.
Planning can also help you avoid unrealistic goals. These can come in the form of “shiny object” goals (based on the newest or trendiest thing that isn’t necessarily the most suitable) or even goals influenced by others (because it’s important that you stay true to your own calling). Establish goals that are realistic and workable and you could end up building your career at a much faster pace.
It can even compromise your ability to self-reflect
You might think you know what you want to do and exactly how you’re going to do it. Maybe you think planning is for the feebleminded or the weak…
However, while busy chugging along with your chosen career path, maybe you’ve forgotten to assess your current situation and consider your own core values. This mistake can play a huge part in leading you towards an unhappy, unfulfilled life with no one to blame but yourself.
A productive career plan should involve self-reflection as an initial step. By first understanding your values, skills and passions, you might be able to build a career that suits your goals and lifestyle more seamlessly. Reflection can be a key to success, increasing productivity and performance and, not to mention, helping you achieve a happier state of mind. Don’t set yourself up for a miserable existence by pursuing a career that you then slowly begin to realise just isn’t for you.
The process of finding/building your career can be complex. Expect there to be too many variables, factors and potential challenges to consider. Stop and think. Your professional fulfilment could be on the line. Prepare yourself for the beginning of this new chapter in your story. By failing to plan, you could be planning to fail later on in life.