It was in 2015 when I traveled with a small group of people to Zimbabwe. We had a solid plan for the week we wanted to spend in Zimbabwe before moving on to Botswana.
Everything was meticulously planned. We arrived in Harare and drove south to Great Zimbabwe. Then we had a two-day drive back north to see the Victoria Falls, spend two nights there, and enjoy some of the local attractions.
We had booked all our accommodation in advance. We knew where to go and what to see. It was a perfect plan. And everything went according to that plan. At least at the beginning.
On the fourth day of our trip, after a short visit to the Matobo Hills, a surreal landscape with big granite kopjes, we were driving north along the Hwange National Park. It is one of the largest parks in Africa, and so it was a bit of drive. It was a rather boring ride, so when we saw a signpost leading us from the main road to a small lodge, we felt it was a good idea to rest for an hour and get some cold drinks. We stopped. And we fell in love with the place.
It was a lovely small lodge, in good condition, friendly staff, and good food. Most importantly, it had a watering hole just next to the camp. A couple of elephants were enjoying the water already, and the owner told us that the whole herd comes every evening and that there is even a decent light over the watering hole so you can observe the animals even at night.
We dropped our plan and decided to stay overnight. There was some scrambling to be done to change all the arrangements on the other places we already booked, but it was worth it.
I didn’t sleep that night, sitting in a cover couple of meters from the watering hole observing the majestic creatures. The herd had about twenty animals with a bunch of baby elephants amongst them. It was dark and quiet. A light breeze was cooling me down as I sat there, and my heart was in heaven. It was one of the best nights of my life. So serene, so close to nature, so incredible.
All of this was made possible only because we saw an opportunity and we took it. We dropped the plan we had for the next couple of days and decided to enjoy the moment. We remembered why exactly we are in Africa. We came to see nature and have a great time. We dropped the short-term plan, but we stayed on the mission.
Have a plan but always look for opportunities to advance the mission
So how does this apply to your professional life? Always have a plan, but look for opportunities that will further your mission.
I often see people being so busy with following their plans that they forget the “why” they are doing what they are doing. I often see people jumping from job to job to get more money and working crazy hours while forgetting the reason why they want money in the first place.
I often hear that planning your career for years to come is the thing of the past. I’m sure I can’t entirely agree with this sentiment. I believe that it is important to understand where you want to go so you can eventually get there. However, it shouldn’t be your only goal. You should use the opportunities that will manifest during your life to enhance your experiences and to enjoy the journey.
It may take a bit longer to get to your dream job, or goal of your life, but what you will discover is that you don’t need that dream job, or to reach the goal, to be happy. You get enough happiness and satisfaction all the time. You enjoy what you are doing right now, versus being miserable waiting for some possible, and not so guaranteed, happiness in the future. All it needs is to drop your short-term plans when you see an opportunity to sit at the watering hole, watching a herd of elephants.
What are your thoughts on career planning? Are you willing to put your career on hold to enjoy the moment? Do you think that it makes no sense to plan a career at all?
Photo: 4144132 / Pixabay.com