Too often we are full of ideas and possibilities but we fail to break them down into concrete plans and never achieve our dreams.
Failing to plan, is planning to fail – according to Benjamin Franklin.

This realisation struck me recently when I was listening to Richard Ferguson, of Kili Consulting. He was inspiring his audience at a CIPD event with a presentation on “Being the best you want to be” in life. Richard reminded us that most people spend more time planning their weekly supermarket shopping than they do planning their careers and planning to fulfil their dreams. Is this you?
It is definitely me! I’m pretty good at writing To Do lists. In fact, they are all over the house but they focus on the day to day small stuff of life. They keep me busy and distract me from making the necessary plans to deliver the important goals in my life.

Start with your vision, your life goals. Imagine yourself in later life. What would you like to be doing? As Richard pointed out, each one of us has the freedom to choose the life we want to create. You are the one in charge of your life. You are the pilot navigating your path so identify where you want to fly to.
What’s stopping you putting your dreams into action? What are the risks? What might happen if they don’t work out? Often, it’s personal disappointment rather than material loss that you might go through. Most people I know who have planned and then stretched themselves and reached for their dreams have not regretted it.

Peter Ewan has always loved photography and film making and this interest drove him to seek ways to use these skills within his day job. He started to create internal communications videos for the company he worked for. Thus, he could practice, plan and develop his skills and interests in a no risk / low risk way. Once he left the company this made it a much easier transition to achieving his dream of running his own video production company Heelheadover. He also recognises the value of having a mentor who had been in business to help him develop his plans, be a sounding board and practical guide.

Sometimes though we can over plan things. Occasionally this is a form of procrastination and often it’s just very hard to plan for something that is way out of your experience. For mums that’s like when you create a beautiful detailed birth plan for having your first baby, and it all goes out of the window very often when reality occurs!

Then we must take a leap of faith and go for it! Toby Young’s experience is a prime example of this. He has had a lifelong passion for adventure and the Artic, right from being a boy. Toby works very successfully in the change management environment but restructuring within the organisation provided the catalyst to enable his dogsledding business to move from a dream to reality. When we discussed his experience recently he said “we did an awful lot of planning and research. However when we started putting this huge plan into practice it quickly fell apart. This wasn’t due to lack of preparation, nor lack of experience. When you are doing something new (especially something few people have done before like dogsledding) you need feedback at each stage to make the next set of realistic plans. In many ways, what we realised was exactly what many organisations are currently discovering – a transition from a waterfall to agile approach. Don’t spend too long planning, fail fast and learn quickly!”

Toby lived his dream by running dogsledding holidays in Norway, still has his dogs and has returned to the UK to settle and bring up a family. What an achievement.
So, whatever your career goals and dreams start to build the following simple plans and get into action:

  • Identify your goals and break them down into 3 year, 1 year and quarterly actions to be completed
  • Plan some short term no risk / low risk experiments to test out your goals
  • Put one future related action on your To Do list every week and do it. Make a specific slot in your diary for this activity. Reward yourself afterwards
  • Figure out the most important things in your day and focus on these. De-prioritise the small stuff and other things that fragment your day
  • Find a mentor to support, advise and challenge you to achieve your goals
  • Review your successes every quarter and gain energy and confidence from the things that you have achieved


If you would like help with achieving your career dreams, then do get in touch with me on sally@swcareercoaching.com or call 07748 815078

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