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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

5 Reasons Why You Should Take Your 5-Year Plan—and Throw it Away

We’ve all heard about the importance of career planning and goal setting, but what if it’s actually keeping you from growing?

Planning is imperative to succeeding at work, in life, and with your health. But when does planning become restrictive to improvement? If you find yourself stagnant from over-planning, you could benefit from stepping away from your checklist of to-dos. Here are five reasons not to have a five-year plan.

1. Your Life Doesn’t Follow the Rules

Although that “perfect” path to success you’ve plotted for yourself may seem like the ideal way to guarantee you land exactly where you want to be, it can have the opposite effect in the long run. By planning a particular way to climb the career ladder, you set expectations for yourself many years down the line based on your current abilities—what may look incredibly unachievable now could be a skill or position you master in no time. If you stick to your plan too rigidly, you could end up squashing potential for growth that you didn’t foresee five years earlier.

2. Excessive Planning Makes You Inflexible

The word gets tossed around frequently, but being adaptable is truly becoming one of the most important characteristics in business. There’s a chance that what you do now may not even be a job in a few years, or that your current role will look completely different in a couple months than it does today. If you hold steadfastly onto the idea that your plan is perfect and nothing will get in your way, you’ll likely be left in the dust. Being adaptable doesn’t mean saying yes to everything that comes your way, but it does mean being open to the idea of change and embracing it when it inevitably arises.

3. Sometimes You Need to Make a U-Turn

You want to travel, work from home, start a side project, or go back to school—but three years ago you charted a plan for yourself that you’ve stuck to for this long, you can’t turn back now! Wrong. You can, and you should change course. It’s easy to shy away from big life decisions when they don’t fall nicely into a predetermined set of parameters you set for yourself years ago. It’s a little harder when you have no reason to say no to your dreams.

4. Thinking Long-Term Can Keep You From the Here and Now

Sometimes making a long-term plan is easier than making a short-term decision because it’s likely that a lack of clarity has, at some point, driven you to haphazardly make a big life decision. When you allow yourself to take time to think through what you truly want to be doing and why, your decisions will lead you down the path you want, instead of the one you nervously planned for many years ago.

5. Your Career Plan Should Never Dictate Your Happiness

What you’re happy doing now may not always make you happy—and that’s OK! Sure, not every day on the job will be sunshine and rainbows, but enjoying what you do is key to succeeding in work and life. Give yourself the flexibility to change your mind about the direction of your career and you’re significantly less likely to end up stuck in an unhappy day-to-day routine, all for the sake of “sticking to the plan.”

This article was originally published on Career Contessa. It has been republished here with permission.

Photo of throwing paper away courtesy of Shutterstock.