Odyssey Planning for Your Career

“We all have more than one life in us.”  ~ Bill Burnett & Dave Evans 

This is posted on Thanksgiving week, which means there are about 6 weeks left in this year.

Many of us use this time to think about the future–next year and beyond. We ask ourselves where we’re headed and how we’ll get there. 

Sometimes we can be overwhelmed with the many choices in front of us. Which one is the best to pursue? Or conversely, we might just draw a blank–no idea how to proceed. 

When we’re overwhelmed, we tend to give up. Life is what it is. We’ll just go with the flow. Yet we know in our hearts that’s not what we should do.

Create Odyssey Plans

In their book, Designing Your Life: How To Build A Well-Lived, Joyful Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans speak to the value of Odyssey Plans. Burnett and Evans are the creators of Stanford University’s popular course on life design. They are leaders in the design thinking field.

In Odyssey Planning, they advocate designing three distinct versions of the next five years of your life. Odyssey Plans are sketches of possibilities that can trigger your imagination and help select which direction to take. The idea is to come up with three completely different scenarios, rather than three variations on a theme.

Five years is an important time frame. Two years is too short; seven or ten years is too long. No one can predict what can happen 7 or 10 years out. 

Three Versions of Your Career for the Next Five Years

The Odyssey Plan model sketches out three alternate versions of your life for the next five years. It can also be applied to your career, and looks like this:

Life 1: That Thing You Do: This is either an extension of your current career or the execution of a hot idea percolating in your brain–it’s a good idea and deserves attention that this exercise brings.

Life 2: That Thing You Do If Thing 1 Was Gone: What if your current life / career / job ceased to exist? Life 1 is no longer an option. What would you do?

Life 3: The Thing You’d Do If Money Or Image Were No Object: If you could make a living at it and no one would laugh, what would you do? 

Life is about generating options. Odyssey Plans help us design our options. It’s a myth that there’s only one perfect life–or career–for us.

Over To You

So, what options do you see for yourself over the next five years? What three alternative versions of your career can you design?

If you’re having trouble developing these three scenarios, reach out. I’ve developed some worksheets that can help you work through each scenario and decide how to move forward.

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Image Copyright : Prig MORISSE