Is Career Planning a Waste of Time in Nigeria?
A recent (unpublished) study of Nigerian undergraduates on the theme ‘your future career’ found that 66% thought it a waste of time to have a career plan.
Their thinking was informed by the following:
- Everything in Nigeria is about connections (ethnic, religion, familial etc).
- The future is too unpredictable and as such it is dangerous to plan.
- It is about the Grace of God or luck e.g. being at the right place at the right time.
At a casual glance, the argument seems reasonable. But not quite! The notion that career success in Nigeria is all about who you know is a perspective, albeit not a wholly correct one. It need be said that planning in any form can never be a waste of time especially in career.
Misconceptions about career planning
The negative perception of career planning has its origin in misconception of the term ‘planning’. People interpret career planning to mean the allocation of specific time and date to the attainment of position along the career map. But career planning means more than that.
What is career planning?
Career Planning is an exercise devoted to the following objectives:
- To carry out a thorough and honest self assessment.
- Get familiar with Trends in career progression.
- Understand critical timelines in career.
- Get inspired to take action on the highlights of the self assessment process.
The second argument is that some prominent people achieved career success without planning. This may be true, however a number of studies have shown that 16% of people who considered themselves to have achieved career success did it without a plan. But proponents of this mindset, overlooks the other side to the research i.e. 67% of those who agreed not to have had career success also agree to not having made a plan.
The correlation between not having a plan and failure in career is too strong that one can safely conclude that planning is a strong determinant of success in careers.
Why you must plan
Career planning is about defining who you are and the purpose to which you want to devote your skills. It is about knowing what you have learnt in the process of personal self assessment and the determination to build character and attitude necessary for overcoming the challenges that you are bound to meet on the way to career fulfillment.
Finally, if you are just getting on the career ladder, then it is highly recommended that you engage in this exercise. What you learn will enable you to acquire skill and mindset necessary for getting jobs and surviving in the future world of work. You will also gain from the wisdom that says ‘‘proper planning prevents poor performance’.