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Tom (TJ) Jones

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Failing to Plan
by Tom (TJ) Jones   

Last edited: Saturday, November 30, 2002
Posted: Saturday, November 30, 2002

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Why Career Planning is essential to finding a successful job and career. Without a career plan, you are actually "planning to fail".

FAILING TO PLAN = PLANNING TO FAIL: Career Planning is Essential for Success

by Tom (TJ) Jones, CCC, CPT
Director of Career Planning University

Statistics show that for most people, careers consume over one-third of their lifetimes. That's an incredibly huge portion of life, and yet less than 20% of us have developed specific career plans to help get us to where we want to go. That doesn't seem
right, does it?

The fact is, the overwhelming majority of us make decisions every day that will affect our career and where we end up in the long run, but we have no clue whether or not those decisions will point us in the direction we want to go. Many of us aren't even
sure what direction that is-- we may have an idea, but we don't have a plan. And that's scary.

We've all seen our economy take a downturn in recent months. Many of our friends or family members have lost their jobs or have struggled to keep a company afloat. With all this uneasiness going around, doesn't it make sense to have a specific career plan in place?

But we must not lose perspective that 90+ percent of Americans are still employed. And of those, the large majority of people choose to make career and job decisions based on emotions rather than develop a formalized plan to move from point A to point B and ultimately to point U…. their Ultimate career.

Most people who have a career plan will also know what their TODAY career is and they also have a TOMORROW career. What’s the difference? A TODAY career is a career that fits their personality, skills, experience, and current educational requirements. It also meets their financial needs. It’s something that “fits” them TODAY. A TOMORROW career is one that they want to aspire to, but they know it will take some time to develop the skills, get the experience and to obtain additional education or development. When someone has a satisfying TODAY career that fits and have a clear path to their TOMORROW career, they are truly a happy, successful and satisfied person.

When many of us think of career planning, we figure that all we need to know is what field we want to be in. But it's much more involved than that. Before you can even decide on a field and a course of education or action to get you there, you need to be
sure the field you have in mind matches up with your personal goals, in-born traits, career passions, family plans, values and personal needs.

Career planning is as important as financial planning. As a matter of fact, they say that your home is your biggest investment. But it may well be your career success that is even more valuable. If planned well, it’s a multi million dollar and MORE reward for 30+ years of work. And that’s no “loose change” deal. Effective career planning can literally “cost you” or “make you” a significant amount of money. Let alone the happiness and joy of being in a career or business that FITS you. And if that’s not work a million dollars, what is. Sometimes, we fail to understand the tremendous value happiness can bring when the career fits.

Many people thing that career planning is only for those who want to work for someone. But in fact, a career planning process is exactly the same for those who want to be self-employed. The fall-out rate for people who go into a self-employed business is very high. Is it because the business was not a good one? Was the products or services they offered not sellable? Was it ineffectively financed and/or did it have a cash-flow problem that caused its failure? Well, it could be one of all of these reasons. But it could also be that they are just not in the type of business that best FITS them.

I recently worked with a client who invested almost $10,000.00 to become a recruiter. His decision was based on the large sums of money he could make from a placement. He could actually get his investment back in one single executive placement. Problem is, he never got a placement. He could never pick up the phone to make the necessary calls to promote his business. Was the product good? Yes. Was the service professional? Yes. Is the industry mature and are other people doing well. Yes. Was he financed properly? Yes… So what went wrong? It was because he never planned his career… he just decided to do it because of the money.

The bottom line is this client really didn’t like to sell. He didn’t like to make calls. It wasn’t a fit for him. Yet he invested money and lost it all. So you see, having a career plan is necessary even if you want to be an entrepreneur.

Other important elements of a career plan involve how it will impact your family and friends. Too many people make too many decisions without evaluating the importance of this area. Some times new careers and new business start-ups will take a ton of time away from your family. And in some cases, can cause a terrible negative impact on those relationships. All that is necessary, is to ensure your family and your friends understand what you want to do and address it with them. Take the time to get their feedback and “buy-off” on your plans. Make sure they understand the amount of time it will take to start the new job or build a new business. In most cases, you’ll get a big “go gettum” pat on the back. And you’ll have a support system to help encourage your success.

Another thing that one needs to be evaluated with your career decision is the fact that some people want a big family. For instance, do you want to go into a field that will require a lot of travel? Do you even know which fields are likely to require this? Some might be obvious, but many fields, depending on the location, company, and advancement you achieve, will require extensive travel that you might not expect. Have you done any research or asked for help in planning which careers match best with YOU and your personal needs?

Planning your career is every bit as important as planning your education, your family life, your finances and your estate. Your career affects every other aspect of your life whether you realize it or not, and it's imperative that you have things planned out to avoid undue stress and failure.

If you're unsure of what steps to take, or would like to take your career in a new direction, there are plenty of qualified professionals out there that can help.

Author: Tom (TJ) Jones is director/founder of the Career Planning University. They specialize in career planning, career development, outplacement, coaching, and assessments for individuals and organizations. TJ's book "A Career Devotional" and his e-course on CD “Discover Your Career Passion", 25 Steps to your Ideal Career is available and marketing worldwide. For more information or to sign up for the FREE weekly Career Planning for a Lifetime Newsletter, see

Web Site: Career Coaching and Career Development

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