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Make It Happen Tipsheet
Career Management and Life Balance

Vacation Planning - Don't go on holidays without it

It's about time to go on that great vacation. You book your flight, hotel, and maybe a rental car. But beyond this, what do you do? Are you a Planner, someone who maximizes their vacation time by planning out each activity while away? Or do you love the excitement of discovery, relying on the whim of the moment (and maybe your resort's schedule) to decide your activities?

Interestingly, people do one of these two things when it comes to their careers as well. Think about the jobs that you have had since your graduation: did they follow a plan that you intended, or did they follow an opportunistic pattern. (Or worse, did they follow a path of someone else's choosing?)

If you don't plan your vacation, you may end up seeing some amazing scenery and having some great experiences, but what if you don't? This isn't a problem, after all, you're only on vacation. But if you don't plan your career, you are effectively relying on the whims of others (your boss, your spouse, your friends...) to determine your success. And when you do achieve that success, it will often be on their terms - not yours.

When it comes to Career Planning, it's important to start doing, rather than just talking. Here is a blueprint:

1) Set your direction: Choose a job that you might be ready for in five years - a proxy goal. This isn't your next job, but one that you aspire to down the road.

2) Fill in the Gaps: What are the gaps in your credentials that might prevent you from being considered for that goal? What are the key success factors in that role that you already have some strength in? Pull together a list of activities that will help you fill any gaps. These might include on-the-job experiences, certifications, training, professional trade group membership, journal reading, networking, etc.

3) Solicit support: While you might feel uncomfortable discussing all of your career plan with others, remember that you are far more likely to succeed with the support of those around you. How can your manager help? How can your family and friends help?

4) Action: If it is to be your career plan, the onus to act is on you - not those around you. Once you've identifiied some of your gap-filling activities, start doing them..

When it comes to planning your vacation, anything goes. But your job is not a vacation, so take an active hand in planning it. Instead of jumping at anything that comes your way, ask yourself: does this particular job help you move closer to your goal: if not, consider taking a pass.


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Make It Happen
Copyright 2006 Knowledge to Action Press and Randall Craig. All rights reserved. Publication date: June 20, 2006