Written by Melissa Anzman
I was talking to my local barista yesterday morning about her summer plans - with snow still falling every other day, I needed something fun and exciting to look forward to. She said, “I’m not really sure what I’ll be doing this summer, but I KNOW I’ll be in Australia next summer.”
Me: “That’s awesome... but, um, how do you know what you’ll be doing next summer without plans for this one?”
Barista: “I’ve always been a future planner - I can’t manage the day-to-day well, but give me a year or more out and I know exactly what I’ll be doing.
Huh. That confused me on so many levels. You see, I’m not really a future planner - I can’t create a 5-year plan to save my life; I am happy to put down my annual business goals, but it’s pure guesstimation - not at all based on what will happen; and I wouldn’t even know where to start when thinking about where I’ll be next summer.
Me: “Wow - together we’d be the best planner in the world! We should get right on that.”
I’m not sure why it took a simple conversation to remind of these different approaches to planning and accomplishing goals, it struck me as a light-bulb moment.
Maybe it’s because I was recently asked how I planned to get to where I am in my career and I was left speechless (not a typical state of being for me).
Or maybe it’s because I have been trying to flex my planning muscles recently, growing a new tool for my toolkit.
But whatever the reason, it was a great reminder of the many paths to planning and achieving.
I tried to think like my barista since our conversation... ... If I knew that this time next year I’d be packing for a summer-long adventure in Australia, what would I need to do to get me there?
I was blank - nothing came up other than to pack my suitcase.
How I would save the funds? What I would do with my car? My cat? My things... and so on. No clue at all.
If you’re a future planner like my barista, you probably are yelling at your screen having everything planned out for me already (calculate the money you’ll need for the flight and living expenses, the amount of time you have to earn that much and you’re there... I didn’t come up with that on my own, my barista helped me with that answer).
For the first hour of this exercise yesterday when I was trying to plan for Australia and then more importantly, for my business and career, I was panicked. I could not create a future plan so therefore I will definitely fail... right? But I remembered that I got to where I am now with my shorter-term planning methods and am doing just fine.
I’m not the person who knows what I’ll be doing a year from now or 10 years from now, heck, I hardly know what I’ll be doing a month from now. But what I do know, is that if you are feeling fear or failure because you don’t have the same process as someone else - whether that be in planning, goal making, career pathing, or laundry - it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed at it.
Hearing how other people would tackle a situation is helpful, but it’s not the only way you can make your way through decisions along the way. Had I planned out my career as a future-planner, there is no way in the world I would be doing what I am doing now. Had I listened to the experts out there - I would have never have taken the various leaps I have that have lead my career on its unique path.
Just a little friendly reminder from my barista. Now go plan something - create SMART goals and set the right achievement timeline for you. :)
Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.