Planned Unplanned Happenstance

Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish. Ovid 17 BC.

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At Enabling Village

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me. Carl Sandburg

‘Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out’, Art Linkletter

15% of students (postgrad or undergrad) I’ve met in universities have an idea where they are going in their career. Majority have no idea. Many feel embarrassed even, that they don’t have a passion.

How can I follow my passion, if I don’t know what it is?

I recently discovered this theory, “Planned Happenstance”, although this theory was developed in 1999 by Mitchell, Levin and Krumboltz.

Planned (having arranged the parts) + Happen (to occur by chance) + Stance (a view or attitude).

‘At the core of this theory is the fact that unpredictable social factors, chance events and environmental factors are important influences on our lives.’ John Krumboltz

Planned happenstance theory proposes that career counselors can assist clients to develop five skills to recognize, create, and use chance as career opportunities.

Happenstance opens up sources of new and non-redundant information. Our destiny can change in that one moment.

These skills are relevant for all of us.

1. Curiosity: explore new learning opportunities. Try a variety of activities, to discover what you like or dislike. A lunchtime talk ? A new sport?

This happened to one of my clients who was at a lunchtime talk at his church and sat next to a headhunter working on a project up his alley.

Or my friend AT, in her thirties, found her lifetime partner, at a friend’s wedding dinner. She nearly did not attend because of work commitments. Its not only in the movies.

2. Persistence: keep trying despite setbacks. Mistakes and failures can provide great learning experiences.

3. Flexibility: change attitudes and events. If things don’t go as planned, look for new opportunities as they crop up. Find out top 3 trends impacting your industry.

4. Optimism: believe that opportunities are within reach. Be ready for it. Pick up that skill now.

5. Risk Taking: take action, small steps even in the face of uncertain outcomes. Have lunch with a different colleague every week. Volunteer to do the next company presentation. Champion a cause at the next Townhall meeting.

In “Fail Fast, Fail Often”, the authors cite Jeff Dyer’s research that people who live in a new country for 3 months are 35% more likely to start a new business or invent a new product.

Some ideas
▪Map your luck, map areas of repetition and sameness in your life and replace with activities that bring new experience.
▪Talk to someone you don’t yet know on your course or place of work
▪Learn how to articulate your strengths and interests
▪Look for opportunities to develop new skills
▪Research a new company/ product
▪Do an internship
▪Get a LinkedIn account for networking, research and exploration
▪Keep a learning journal to help you stay motivated
▪Reward yourself, do an activity you enjoy

More ideas:

Luck Is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career. Krumboltz, J., & Levin, A.S. (2004) Impact Publishers.

Planned Happenstance: Constructing Unexpected Career Opportunities Kathleen E. Mitchell Al S. Levin John D. Krumboltz, JOURNAL OF COUNSELING & DEVELOPMENT, SPRING 1999, VOLUME 77

Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win: Ryan Babineaux, John Krumboltz

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