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08April

Why It Is Important to Plan

Written by Matthew Webb Posted in Career Planning, Careers

Why It Is Important to Plan

I think ‘having a plan’ is a phrase that either  brings comfort to people who like to be organised or, alternatively, strikes fear in to those who like to ‘go with the flow’. People constantly wonder: What am I supposed to work towards? What if I change my mind? How do I do it? Why should I bother? These are all perfectly normal and understandable questions to ask.

Ok, so here are the reasons for having a plan, but take note, there will be a twist in the tale by the end.

Something to Work Towards

One of the main reasons why people should have a plan (whatever age they are) is that it gives us something to work towards, a motivation to do something if you will.  Let me give you an example.  School can be a place where the purpose of being there can get just a little bit lost in that movement from one classroom to the next. 

Yes, it’s about learning for its own sake, but it’s also about getting what you need to be able to move on to the next stage e.g. college, Sixth Form or apprenticeship.  As hard as it can be, planning for the future starts increasingly early for young people these days.

Having a goal is motivating. We all have different priorities in life but being able to pursue them often takes organisation. Money is often the only thing that some people say that they want and it is undeniably important. 

I would argue that if you can be doing something that gives you the money you want, but also enjoy too, then it is even better.  But getting both of these usually does not happen without planning!

Well, that’s all very well but how do you start to plan your future? It is at this point, I would argue, that it should start with thinking about YOU first. 

Get to Know Yourself

Knowing yourself well is very important.  Identifying your priorities, personal skills, interests and qualities is a number one priority, as is thinking about what you have learned from your own unique and personal experiences in life. 

However you get to that point doesn’t matter, but have a go at working this bit out.  Writing lists, mind mapping, getting positive feedback from people you trust, using personality questionnaires are just some of the ways you could use to help you with this.  Whatever you do, just make sure you have time to think about what is important to you.

The next step is to look at the decisions you are about to make and what will meet your all important priorities.  If you know yourself to be practical and ‘hands on’ then is an apprenticeship for you?  Do you like writing and studying?  Then perhaps A Levels or a college course would be best.

This is the time to explore your options and find out more – this is definitely an active process too. Open days, meeting with teachers or personal advisers, registering on the National Apprenticeship website are just some of the activities that could help to make your plan come together.

Now the benefits of having a plan, I hope, are beginning to become apparent. You will be more motivated, clearer about what you want from life and generally happier than someone who has not bothered to think about it at all.

However, this is where the twist comes in. Thinking about yourself and then finding what is out there to suit you is all very well in theory but life does not always work out like that, does it? 

My Own Experience

My own experience has shown me that a chance meeting with someone, an unexpected call or conversation can sometimes lead to job opportunities.  Being ready for this though is important, as is acting on it.  

For example, I was at a club meeting and had a chance conversation with someone about my interest. Because he had seen me lead a group activity before, he subsequently offered me a job in an area that related to this hobby. Not so much having a plan but being prepared for the chance encounters in life that come our way.  

So, that has blown the ‘have a plan’ theory out of the water then!  Well, not really. 

Thinking about your interests and ideas for the future and looking for a career that would suit this is important, but being curious and open to meeting people that you come across in life can often lead to a career changing move too. Plan yes, but be prepared for the unexpected.

So to put this all together: have a plan YES.  But making a conscious effort to talk to people and following up on those unexpected conversations is important too, as this may lead to you building an even better career than you may have previously imagined.  

About the Author

Matthew Webb

Matthew Webb

Matt Webb is a Personal Adviser for TCHC. He qualified as a Careers Adviser in 2002 and been working with young people ever since in schools, colleges and out in the community.

Matt believes in the importance of enabling others to develop their skills and help them plan for the future in what is an increasingly complex and fast changing world. He enjoys helping people assess the skills, qualities and experience they have and how this relates to future courses and careers.

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