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Are You a Career Planner or a Career Explorer? [ENG]

Warning: This post is over 365 days old. The information may be out of date.

First time I heard the question “where do you see yourself in 5 years” just after joining Microsoft, the first answer that came to my mind was «fired».

Then I understood my manager was suggesting me to have a long/mid-term career plan looking forward. «Fair enough, that sounds reasonable». And assumed I was not about to be fired, which was a nice perspective.

«Awesome, let’s write a plan…» … but it was not that easy. As of today, years later, my plan is yet to be completed. I started and modified and quitted that plan countless times.

Originally, I thought something was wrong with me, like «everybody has a career plan and here I am, just working, directionless, lost». But later, discussing with colleagues, managers and mentors I began to identify two different career travelers: Planners vs Explorers.

Planners, obviously, have a plan. They clearly see themselves somewhere and had designed a plan to go from A to B thorough a certain path, stops and time. On the other hand, Explorers are not sure where they are going, they keep moving, enjoying the journey and eventually getting somewhere just to continue exploring.

In all honestly, I have never had a plan and that’s how I landed in Microsoft; therefore, I will not say being an Explorer is bad, but I can’t say it’s better than having a plan neither. For me it’s more a matter of each person’s personality and how we see our live, work and future. There is no good or bad answer.

Here is my recap of pros and cons, out of my own thinking process, in case it might help someone. No particular order. Feel free to add your own as comments below:



  • Sense of control.
  • Efficient on timing and resources.
  • Plan from your comfort zone, before moving.


  • Potentially less flexible, as changing the plan might require adapting resources and timing (potentially invested already).
  • Risk of losing opportunities while being too focused on achieving something specific.
  • Risk of feeling disappointed or demoralized if the plan fails (growth mindset required in both styles, anyway).



  • Sense of freedom while navigating the uncertainty.
  • Not limited by current point of view or biases. It gives time (to learn and growth) by delaying the decision making.
  • Keeping multiple doors open might help if a sudden change is needed.


  • Risk of investing effort on paths that get nowhere.
  • Risk of losing perspective/focus (distractions).
  • If navigating efforts are not intentional enough, one may get too comfortable and unwilling to change.

Different styles also require different approaches. While being a planner requires to be persistent and focused on a goal, a Traveler needs to be intentionally open minded; it’s not just sitting down and waiting things to happen (I’d rather call this a Tourist) but needs to be permanently “discoverable” and keep eyes open.

Different styles also benefit from different kind of allies. Of course, everybody benefits from coaching and mentors, but a Traveler will likely prefer creating and maintaining many contacts, whereas a Planner may invest more efforts having long-term contacts or even sponsors. It will require time anyway, this is the “intentionality” I stated below.

Those are the two styles I’ve been mainly thinking about myself, but pretty sure you know someone (or yourself) with a very particular style on career planning. For example, do you know someone who is able to change role every few months, can we call them career Nomads? :)

Published first on LinkedIn, let me a comment there to see your thoughts!

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