It’s 2020 and Time to Ditch the Career Plans
In the rapidly evolving world of work it’s time to dump antiquated concepts.
It is time to ditch the confines of a limited career plan and liberate your professional development.
For someone who calls themselves a career coach, thats a bold statement. But the world of work is changing, and faster than you may realise.
The United States Bureau for Labour Statistics calculates the average person will hold 10 different jobs before the age of 40, which Forrester Research anticipates will grow to 12–15 in the coming years.
In the longer term Rohit Talwar, head of Fast Future, an organisation advising governments on social and economic planning for the future, anticipates that children today will have over 40 different jobs in ten different sectors.
The upshot is the job for life is gone. Even at the age of 28 I already have had more jobs in more sectors than both my parents combined.
This isn’t just about the world of work changing, it also relates to our outdated concepts of career planning. Typically young professionals have a career plan, either mapped out on paper or an idea in their mind of how they want their careers to evolve.
Generally it works like a staircase model. You start out in an internship and over the course of your working life you take steps up the staircase culminating in reaching your dream job.
But the research shows this is increasingly becoming the exception, rather than the rule. Not only do we change organisations throughout our lives, we are constantly reinventing our professional personas. We not only move organisations, but we change sectors and functions. You are not limited to working in the same sector or function all your life. Already career planners and HR managers are talking about “career portfolios” rather than a traditional C.V. confined to one job or sector.
In their book, The Squiggly Career, Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis, suggest you focus on exploring career possibilities rather than sticking to the outdated and antiquated concept of a career plan.
Research has shown that narrowing your attention and focus to a specific subject results in missing out on opportunities. The psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, has run a series of studies demonstrating that when we give exclusive attention to one subject we miss critical information. A simple study once asked half the participants to follow the ball in a basketball game and the other half to generally watch the same game. During the game they brought a man dressed in a giant gorilla outfit onto the court. Everyone who was tasked to monitor the game in general saw the Gorilla and remarked how strange it was at the end. But almost none of the participants focused on the ball ever saw the Gorilla, and believed the other participants were making it up.
It’s a simple but telling experiment that has been replicated and expanded in years since. But it illustrates the limited capacity of our brain to process information when we assign it a task. Your attention span is finite.
My takeaway from Kahneman’s work and the prompts from Tupper and Ellis are simple, if you’re too focused on hitting your career targets you’ll miss valuable & enjoyable learning opportunities throughout your working life.
When we know the world of work is rapidly changing, the likelihood is the confines of such a narrow career plan will limit your opportunities for growth and development.
Enter career possibilities. Remain open and flexible to the opportunities that will foster career development and happiness. Think about what makes you happy, what motivates you, what do you want from a career, what are your values as a worker, what do you want out of work and how do you want to spend 38 hours of your week?
Using these questions as a guiding principle can provide direction to your career and will give you far more opportunities than the straight jacket of a career plan.
The changing dynamic in the world of work is not something to fear but should be embraced. The past doesn’t determine the future, the present does. Similarly you shouldn’t allow your previous experiences to limit your future potential.
Robbie Stakelum is a Career Coach supporting his clients in i) Career Development, ii) Career Transition and iii) turning passions and hobbies into a career. If you would like to learn more about his coaching practice you can join his mailing list, book a free discovery call, purchase his Goal Getters 2020 Workbook or connect with him on LinkedIn or Instagram.