The Myth of a Perfect Career Plan

One of the top career myths we see leaders struggling with is that they need a perfect career plan.

It’s true that you want to have SOME sort of plan. As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you may end up somewhere else.”

But you don’t need a perfect plan – just a general idea to get you started.

Making a perfect, step-by-step career plan is like committing to wear today’s fashions for the rest of your life. No evolution, no updating, no response to the changing world around you.

Imagine you were still rocking your Christmas outfit from the early 90’s. Without sarcasm. Take a moment to imagine how you would be perceived 30 years later, walking into meetings wearing not only that stellar piece of knitwear- but a jingle bell necklace and matching earrings to complete the ensemble. 

Our tendency to look back on ourselves in years past and judge ourselves for the outfits we wore is the easiest way to understand what is called the End of Time Fallacy. You might chuckle at that dated photo, but your past self probably thought you were pretty styling! 

Yet most of us don’t consider the fact that 20 years from now, we might regard our current fashion choices as similarly laughable.

It’s the same with our career choices. We make our career plans in the moment, as our present-day selves. We forget that the person we are today will continue to evolve as we progress through time. (Hence- the name “End of Time”- we tend to think of us “now” as the person we will always be… fashion choices included)

Just like those parachute pants might not work for your style today, a career plan you designed while wearing those pants might also belong in the past.

We can’t predict what our needs and preferences will be in the future. Creating a detailed plan for someone we have not yet become is an exercise in futility.

So- develop a general idea of where you want to go, and get ready to learn, grow, and adapt along the way. Don’t get stuck on perfection. Today’s perfect career plan just might be tomorrow’s step-aerobics leotard.