How Does Vacation Planning Apply to Career Planning?

Happy 2017! I hope many of you were able to enjoy some well-deserved time off. Other than the summer, the holidays are one of the biggest vacation seasons of the year. In fact, I just returned from a wonderful time in Barcelona!

Wooden path leading to crossroads. Direction, way to choose. ConMy family and I looked forward to the trip for many months and it struck me that we (primarily my husband because he’s the master vacation planner) spent many hours planning for our precious holiday in Spain. It is typical for most people to invest time in planning a great vacation to get the most out of the experience. Then, I wondered …

Do people spend that same amount of time and energy in planning their career as they do planning for a vacation?

What do you think? Do you?

With the new year comes thinking about how you may make this year better than the last. Let me propose one of those focus areas about career planning.

In my Google research on the topic, I learned that on average, people spend 10-20 hours planning a one-week vacation. So why not spend at least that amount of time on an annual basis to do some career planning?

For most, there is a least one time a year devoted to vacation. I recommend you apply that same concept to conduct annual planning for your career as well. Determine what annual milestone works for you and set up a schedule – perhaps your birthday, annual performance review time, New Year, etc. There are lots of logical choices.

When I thought about the questions or considerations when planning a vacation, it occurred to me that a little shift in content could be applied and used for planning for your career. Below is a protocol you may find useful to get things started:

Vacation Planning Protocol
1. Do I want to visit someplace new or revisit one of my favorite spots?

2. What are the activities and I enjoy and where can I go that offers those activities?

3. Do I want to try a new activity (skiing, scuba diving, rock climbing …)?

4. Do I want to explore a new culture?

5. With whom would I want to travel and share this experience?

Career Planning Protocol
1. Do I want to get exposure to another part of the organization or expand my scope in the same functional area? Perhaps even make a career change!

2. What are my strengths? What roles enable me to leverage those strengths more fully?

3. Do I want to build new skills or new relationships with different co-workers or customers?

4. How might I be more innovative in my current role, be more open to change or even lead a change effort in the organization?

5. Who do I want on my team? How can I develop those on my team or do I want to be a part of a different team?

In addition to this starter set of questions, I found this article from Quintessential to offer some great tips, ideas, and resources as you engage in your career plan.

What do you say? Could 2017 be “the year of the career” for you?

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at