The Road Not Taken – Plan for the Unplanned

Last week we talked about the importance of making decisions and I outlined different strategies that you can use to help you figure out the best road to take, whether the impact is big or small. When choosing a career path or making any decision in your life, there are a variety of factors that can appear unexpectedly along the way. Examples of these factors include: new job responsibilities, management changes, moving to a new city etc.

These factors can be helpful or a hindrance to your journey, depending on your goals, so it is important that you learn to engage in exploratory activities and develop a set of skills to help you deal with unexpected events and opportunities.

Most successful career people will tell you that ‘luck’ or ‘chance’ has played some kind of role in their success. By this I don’t mean that you should sit around and wait for good things to happen to you, but if you work hard and develop your professional skills you will be more prepared to be open to new experiences and possibilities.

Some of the skills to help you cope with unforeseen events are taken from Bandura’s career counselling theory called planned happenstance (1982). These skills include:

1. Curiosity: exploring new learning opportunities
2. Persistence: exerting effort despite setbacks
3. Flexibility: changing attitudes and circumstances
4. Optimism: viewing new opportunities as possible and attainable
5. Risk Taking: taking action in the face of uncertain outcomes.

In addition to this, being open-minded and welcoming when considering your options is a beneficial way to explore all your opportunities and discover what may work best for you. Often times we are told that there is a specific path to achieving success in whichever field you are interested in. Through my experience I have discovered that this is NOT true. There are many paths to get from point A to point Success, so follow your interests and be curious because new opportunities and success is always around the corner.

Bandura, A. (1982). The psychology of chance encounters and life paths. American Psychologist, 37, 747-755.

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