The Key to Smart Career Planning Is to Enjoy on the Journey

What are some tips for someone who wants to start thinking more constructively about long term career planning? originally appeared on Quora the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Shefaly Yogendra, Governance, risk & decision making specialist | Board director and trustee | Advisor to founders, CEOs and boards, on Quora:

This is not career advice we often hear. But this is exactly what evidence says. I have not only built a career (23 years at the time of writing in 2017) but have also closely observed the trajectories of many of my peers.

A hard-set goal can distract us from opportunities and from personal joy.

For instance, a lawyer might join a law firm with a goal is to make partner is X number of years. Some may not enjoy the journey but are set on the goal at great personal cost. Yet others, when they realise they are not enjoying it, may be better placed for alternative paths such as becoming an in-house lawyer or becoming a business advisor. I have both kinds of lawyer friends and the latter kind, aided by their flexibility and open mind, are enjoying wholesome success in their careers and have become well-rounded persons, citizens, parents in the process.

A journey, on the other hand, allows us to revise our goals, redefine our roles, identify emergent opportunities, and take advantage of all that instead of ignoring or dismissing them in pursuit of an unchanging career goal.

When my peer group started our careers, the web was beginning to appear in our workplaces. Most of my MBA classmates didn’t even have a personal email ID for the first 3-4 years. Many laughed at me in the late 1990s for being an Amazon devotee while I lived in a non-English speaking country because why would you give your credit card number to some unknown website! But I found the possibilities fascinating, and Amazon was just the beginning of it. I am now on my fourth “career” and continue to work…

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