How much work did you put into planning your last trip? How did that trip work out for you?

We are currently one week into a 5-week trip. On reflection I am amazed at the amount of work it can take to put a trip together. Tickets, itineraries, transportation, you know what I am talking about. Then after arrival you realize, some things changed. The planning was not done well, or was incorrect, or you just did not know about some elements until you arrived. You also changed your mind on a couple of items or had to change your mind, because what you planned was not available.

What if you examine your professional development as a yearlong trip? Let’s plan next year’s journey based on previous year’s results.

A journey consists of three primary elements; planning, execution, and evaluation. Those three elements inform two themes; the destination and the journey. Let’s get started.


This is where the elements of the destination and journey are defined: Where are you going, what is the time frame, mode of transportation, budget, and other elements?

Destination: In terms of professional development be specific. What is the destination? A promotion, a move, an advanced degree, credential?

Journey: How do you plan on arriving at the destination and what is the mode of transportation? Will development be solo, mixed in a group, or with a specific team? What vehicle will you use? There is a lot to choose from: formal education, on the job training, internships, mentoring, coaching, workshops, virtual courses, and others. Will you use just one or multiple?

What does the timing look like? Do you have a specific time requirement or is it open ended? Whose timeline is it, yours or someone else’s?

The final element is cost, which includes the level of flexibility to alter the plan.


Once you have embarked there is the constant measuring of progress. Are you on track and how do you know? Light on planning leaves progress open to interpretation. Progress is measured against the plan. The route, the transportation, the timing, and budget. Inevitably some will change, expect it and plan for it.


In my evaluation, I like to consider a spectrum as shown below. The left limit is: “Never doing that again” and the right limit: “That was great”. I also believe it is important to evaluate both the destination and the journey. Here is an example of why.

I worked with a transitioning military member dead set on completing his Program Management Certification prior to getting out. The program he chose was hybrid, mostly virtual some in person. The myriad of tasks required to transition, coupled with earning his certificate created significant stress in his final months with a flurry of networking and interviewing at the end. Ultimately, he was hired as a program manager.

In a conversation after transitioning, he told me if he was to do it again, he would approach transitioning much differently. His regret, he was too focused on the destination of a credential rather educating himself on how to tell his story and show he had the experience and skills of a program manager.

Evaluating his transition year this is what he came to:

Destination: I initially chose the wrong destination and should have put more time upfront into the long-term plan for transition.

Journey: My journey was intensely focused on one track. I was measuring myself against earning a credential not getting hired as a program manager. Ultimately, I landed where I wanted to however, the journey was stressful and exhausting.

What about you?

How can you use last year’s journey to inform next year’s?
Is your destination a promotion or a degree?
How important is the journey to arriving at your destination?

Ever see someone who earned the promotion but left the earth scorched behind them?
How about that colleague focused on earning their MBA, who gave up everything and focused on their degree?

Many people reach their destinations exhausted and in tatters, while others arrived refreshed and ready for the next challenge.

How do you want to arrive?