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Why you should choose planning and strategy as a career

It all boils down to one word for me: People.

If you’re interested in people then this’ll be a really interesting career for you. By the way, you don’t have to like people (I’m not a massive fan of most of them, if I’m honest) but you do have to find them endlessly fascinating. I’ve always been a big people-watcher, and I’ve always been someone who has asked the question “why” a lot. If this sounds like you, a curious sort of person who is addicted to seeking out answers, then this is definitely a career to consider.

I have found over the last 25 years (blimey) that this has been a job that has fed my natural born curiosity. If you are the type of person who tends to be more interested in WHY and HOW questions than WHAT, WHEN and WHERE questions then you should definitely choose planning as a career. If you prefer those other three questions then I’d suggest you look more at creative, media, production or account management – all varied, vital and valid choices by the way. But we’re talking about planning, and I’m absolutely, utterly and shameless biased as to why you should be choosing THIS as your option.

It doesn’t really matter what the unit of creativity is in the agency you choose – advertising, comms planning, data, UX, PR, experiential, whatever – you are always trying to ultimately prod or direct people. You are trying to get them to do something. Or not do something. Or do more of something or less of something. Sometimes you are trying to get people to choose this over that, or maybe to consider something they’ve never thought of before. The challenge is always to get them to think, do or feel something that right now they don’t. I don’t know about you but I find that hopelessly addictive as a task. Alfred Schopenhauer put it best when he said: “The task not so much to see what nobody has yet seen, as to think what nobody has yet thought concerning that which everybody sees".

Understanding the motivations, prejudices, fears and triggers of humans are the keys to good planning. This is why Behavioural Science & Evolutionary Psychology have been on the rise in the last few years. Wherever your target audience are or whatever you want them to do (or not do) then they all have one basic thing in common: they are all human beings and they all have the same basic human motivators and inhibitors. Understanding these and how to tickle them is the key to the planners art. If you don’t find this interesting or motivating then I’d suggest you become an accountant.

There are careers where you’ll genuinely make a lot more money. There are careers where you’ll work (a lot) less hours. There are careers where you’ll fret a lot less (I do always seem to have something “on my mind”). But there aren’t many careers where you’ll get to feed a curiosity about our species as much as being a planner – AND YOU’LL GET PAID FOR IT.

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