Planned Happenstance: Being Opportunity Ready
Lately, I have met with clients who are excelling in their careers but wondering what is next. One professional loved his work and was getting great kudos from clients and management but knew it was time for a change. There are other clients looking for a new career path that leverages all their passion, skills, interests and past experience. Others are taking advantage of the improving economy, and the timing of kids going back to school, to gear up for job search mode. Job search is a lot of work but as one woman indicated she's building confidence again and going to thrive.
When meeting with many of these clients, intuition has prompted me to tell them about Planned Happenstance from the work of Career Development Educator, John Krumboltz, out of Stanford. He believed that a very important part of any career advising was to "... teach clients to engage in exploratory activities to increase the probability that the clients will discover unexpected career opportunities."(1) Another way he referred to it was "planned luck".
Job search begins with "exploring" and understanding your passions, talents, work style, interests and values to find the best-fit opportunities. There are assessments available online and through career counselors to assist in this. There are a lot of people who meet with me who have done a lot of reflection and soul searching and just need to put together a plan of action. That plan must include "exploratory" activities including networking and informational interviewing and researching what's out there. Having a time of inquiry when meeting with others, to understand how they made a move, or what they would recommend, or what their work is like, is all part of the "exploration". This will pay off.
You know what else pays off? Being ready for the planned happenstance. How do we do this? First of all, we have to be open to it. Being open means doing the work of figuring out who we are and what we desire. Then, the connections will come. It took me 5+ years to figure that out. First, I went to school to study counseling and become a therapist. And, next, decided that I didn't want to do that so I transferred to the general counseling program and completed the coursework. (My dear friend made certain that I finished even though I didn't know the reason at the time.) And, then 2 years after graduating, having done a lot of soul searching and looking at my interests and skills and desires for work, I "happened" upon the role for me - Career Counseling for Silicon Valley Professionals and later throughout the Bay Area. I recognized it because I had done the work, not even knowing the desired outcome at the time.
How did it happen? I went to volunteer and utilize my new counseling degree at the renowned Career Action Center. I said that just any volunteer role would do inside this organization that worked with professionals in every area of career development. And, in having the initial meeting with Linda, who later became my mentor, she suggested that I become a career counselor. The light bulb flashed brightly as the connection was made. I was ready for this unplanned luck. And, I've been a practicing career counselor for exactly 20 years.
Remember the professional at the beginning of this piece who was excelling but wanted something else. He decided to begin the work of preparing for a new path not knowing what was next. The organization created a job with him in mind and he had no idea that was in the works. Planned happenstance!
With that in mind, I refer you back to last month's blog for ideas on where to begin: http://www.designyourdirection.com/updates.html. And, as one of the most creative mentors in my life would suggest, just do one thing differently today to keep your creative juices flowing. Explore something new about yourself. Here's a link to Jungian typology http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp. Or, set up a coffee or cocktail meeting with friends to find out more about what they do or what they would recommend you do next. Be open to new ideas. The connections and planned luck are out there for you.
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If you are in a situation where you need assistance in getting into that right job or getting back into a role that makes you happy, I’d love to assist. Good luck with your unplanned luck!
* I do sliding scale for those who need that assistance.
(1) Journal of Counseling and Development, Spring, 1999 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/j.1556-6676.1999.tb02431.x/abstract