If you're in Marketing, you've probably heard of Seth Godin, kind of the next Guy Kawasaki. I've been reading his blog posts (they're frequent, short, and to-the-point) of late and wanted to share this one: Seth Godin's Blog. Seth makes an excellent point about the value of diversification, in this case when it comes to envisioning your career.
I was speaking to a high-school class once, and we got onto the topic of college choice, and how that affected your career options. My point to the class was that your choice of college is not one of those all-or-nothing, irreversible bets; there are many paths to the same goal. And (as Seth points out) there are many good outcomes on the way to what you thought was your goal.
To illustrate the point, I told the class about reviewing the "Class Book" for a milestone Stanford reunion. Everyone had submitted information about what they were doing now, how their careers, lives, marriages, families, etc. had gone and the like. What I found in looking at profiles of people I remembered is that roughly half the people ended up doing exactly what they said they would do when they were at Stanford. I remember one friend who was determined to be the Chief of Staff (or whatever the head person is called) at a big hospital in New York City.
The other half was the group that caught my attention. The stories varied in their details, but the arc was the same. "I got my dream job at x, then something life-changing happened, or I figured out that I actually hated what I was doing, and now I'm doing something completely different and loving it."
The point, as I told the high-school class, is that there a million things that can go wrong with your "plan", and the best advice is to prepare to be surprised, be open to new ideas and experiences, and be willing to recognize an opportunity when it materializes.
Good advice for all of us!