By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Media Services
Q. I'm attempting to do career planning. However, every time I think I have a plan, something changes in my industry. How do you plan when you have no way of knowing what changes are going to occur in your organization and field?
A. You can cope effectively by realizing that only having one plan is no longer effective. People who succeed despite not having the Psychic Friends Network on speed dial make sure they have plan A, plan B, and even plan C so they can adapt to changes.
Many years ago, I worked with a clever guy who had trained and worked with the military in Special Forces units. He once told me that in Special Forces people are trained to look at the world differently than most people. For example, he told me, whenever he walks into a room he automatically evaluates two exits.
The idea of two exits (or more) from any room is not just pertinent to surviving in dangerous circumstances. We could all use more flexible thinking when it comes planning our future at work.
Try this exercise to build more adaptability into your job. Imagine the best-case scenario in your current workplace (call this plan A). What would you do to take advantage of the circumstances that would occur if your best-case scenario unfolds? What do you need to do to prepare and be ready?
Now try the same exercise but imagine your worst-case scenario (call this plan C). Again, what steps do you need to take? What would you do to get ready to thrive despite these challenging circumstances?
Lastly, imagine that your future for 2012 will be somewhere between your best and worst case scenarios. What additional planning would you do to be prepared?
Now your job is to take action to prepare for all three scenarios. If it turns out you've taken steps you didn't need, good for you because I bet you slept better at night. If it turns out that you need to use your preparation, you'll be glad you have it.
I think the reason wilderness survival shows have been gaining in popularity is that they can teach us a truth that is just as useful in the corporate jungle as in the backwoods. You will never regret being overprepared, but being unprepared can be fatal.
When I offer this advice to clients, they are sometimes reluctant to prepare for their worst-case scenarios. They tell me that I'm encouraging them to engage in negative thinking and that preparing will make career disasters more likely.
The truth is that acknowledging bad things that could happen does not cause the universe to drop asteroids on our head. However, if asteroids start dropping, at least we've been looking up and can avoid being under them when they land.
The confidence, security and calm that emanate from you when you are prepared will be nothing but good for you and your career. All you have to lose is your anxiety about your future.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). Contact her at www.interpersonaledge.com
or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027.
This was printed in the November 18, 2012 - December 1, 2012 Edition