Make An Opportunity Plan

When your Plan A derails or does not seem to be coming together, people will ask “What’s your back-up plan?” In that moment you glance to the side and already feel like you are about to embark on something less than what you originally desired. Having a back-up plan is a concept that is part of American culture – and few people express that they are happy following or working on one. Usually the question above is met with a heavy sigh, the response of “I really don’t know,” and accompanying feelings of failure.

The words and phrases we choose as we talk about our career journeys can carry hope or despair. Plan B and C will never sound or seem as good as Plan A, and only having Plan A makes one vulnerable to risk. Instead of attributing a ranking to your options, why not have possibilities that are part of your Opportunity Plan, recognizing that there are many careers and jobs that can be a strong fit. Interestingly, as individuals cultivate and secure possibilities within their Opportunity Plan they often discover that Plan A was not coming together because it was a weak fit or that they were largely pursuing it because of external expectations.

In making a shift about how you refer to the options within your career journey, and by committing to explore a range of possibilities, you will likely find that you are qualified for many more career opportunities than you originally thought, and that each could provide you with a satisfying work life.


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By Kay Kimball Gruder
Kay Kimball Gruder Assistant Director of Graduate Student Career Programs and Services Kay Kimball Gruder