Social culture is certainly an interesting phenomenon. Planning is ingrained into some aspects of our lives and completely shunned in others. Holidays, for example, are often meticulously planned because we want to ensure that we make the most of our time away. Weddings are another example of painstakingly thorough planning. Diets, babies, sporting endeavors and education are more examples of goals and events that are have culturally accepted planning phases.
What is it about these activities and events that lead us to invest so much time into their planning? When we consider that the risk or impact of failing to meet our objective is unacceptable we mitigate the risk by planning ahead. Nobody wants to waste valuable holiday time, nor do they want their weddings to be incomplete or disorganized. We generally recognize that some events will not naturally come to order and their success is dependent on planning. Career Planning, on the other hand, is often overlooked.
A common misconception about career planning is that the concept is about working hard in order to press for a promotion. But career planning is about working smart. It is about making the right decisions and focusing energy in order to maximize time and effort. In the workplace and during our education, we make decisions on a daily basis and these decisions shape our image as a professional.
Let's deviate from careers in order to press this point. Which racehorse would you bet on?
Racehorse #1. Recently started racing - formally privately owned and lived in a paddock.
Racehorse #2. Has two years of racing experience and trains twice a week.
Racehorse #3. Has five years of racing experience and trains five times a week.
Racehorse #4. Has five years of racing experience, he trains five times a week and was bred from champion racers. He was raised by experienced champion trainers and began training as a foal.
In answer to our question, racehorse #4 seems the obvious choice. It appears that this racehorse has dedicated his life to the one career and that gives us good odds that he is better at his job than the others.
When your career is scrutinized by a potential employer the 'odds' that you are better at this job than the others are calculated on the same rationale. Choices that you made years before stand as confirmation of your long standing interests. Your level of skill and expertise in one field is proportional to the quality and quantity of time that you have previously invested in that field. The great Albert Einstein said "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer".
Career planning is about making choices that build on your skill set. Just like Albert Einstein - focusing your energy on just a few fields will drive you towards your career goals.