• Mj Vieweg

Are 5-Year Plans Key to Career Success?

What’s your five-year plan?

Do you have one yet?

Do you really need one?

One myth that guests of the Executalks podcast dispel on a regular basis is that a successful career goes according to plan.

Guests tell Ash of facing at least one unplanned turn of events, if not more, along their career journey.

And with COVID-19 impacting the world in ways no one was thinking about having to manage just a year ago, can you even have a five-year career plan in this new normal?


And, yes. Kinda.

I think with the onset of COVID-19, a lot of five-year career plans got disrupted. How can you execute your career plan if your job offer has been frozen or rescinded? Getting laid off can derail a five-year plan.

Five-year plans can be too rigid by focusing on a certain job or type of job as a benchmark. Because, and looking to the pandemic as just one example, things don’t stay the same.

You can have a good job in a good company, confidently working your five-year plan, then a downturn hits the industry you are in and the downsizing begins. Then the hiring freeze across the industry. Or the industry fades away altogether.

My guess is most five years plans don’t often include details and contingencies for upheavals.

Odd in a way because you will most certainly come face-to-face with upheavals in life, if not just your career. Just as you will death and taxes.

So, you can’t plan five years of your life with any certainty.

Unless you can.

Can you?

Yes, you can plan the next five years to allow for uncertainty. What if you built in nimbleness into your plan?

If you decide you what you want and understand/embrace the fact there is no one way and no right way to get there. And it may look quite different five years out then what you understand it to be right now.

By "nimbleness" I mean training yourself to look for opportunities and to know them when they drop by.

Because just like upheaval, opportunities will show up in your life.

And like upheavals, you won’t necessarily see them coming until they are staring you in the face.

A nimble framework that emphasizes your ideas of success, work, and satisfaction might allow you to recognize and take advantage of opportunities and help you better navigate upheavals.

What do you think of five-year career plans? Do you have one? How has it been useful?

This post was inspired by Ash’s conversation with MacDonald-Miller CEO, Gus Simonds. Be sure to give that episode a listen and challenge yourself to think about how you might navigate your next five years.

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

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