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How Planned Happenstance Can Help Your Career

How to Use Planned Happenstance to Advance Your Career
fikmik/123RF.com

After reading the title, you are probably wondering what Planned Happenstance is and how it can help you in your career. Planned Happenstance is a viewpoint in career development that stems from creating opportunities for yourself out of aspirations that you would like to pursue in your career. Planned Happenstance can be framed as the idea to create chance events that turn into actual opportunities. It’s a method that can help you capitalize on events that occur or that you can create to occur in your life. The more chances you develop in your career, the more opportunities you are going to have to create the scenario you want to live out and therefore gain more chances of landing a job you really like.

Incorporating planned happenstance into your career plan

The first thing you want to do is approach this theory with an open mind. When it comes to career planning, people often will have the idea that the only way to move things forward is to rely on choices and planning. Planned happenstance is somewhat the opposite – it is the idea of creating opportunities and taking advantage of opportunities as they come your way. One thing to keep in mind is that planned happenstance is not simply waiting around for something to come your way, but rather seeking out opportunities and taking advantage of them as they come along.

Let’s take a look at what planned happenstance looks like in the healthcare field. Perhaps you are a nurse who has hit a road block in your career, and you feel that you are not growing and developing in your career the way you would like. You then begin to look for opportunities for advancement, maybe in a managerial role, but you feel that even that role may become stagnant, and the job description doesn’t excite you the way you think it should. So, what do you do? This is a great opportunity for planned happenstance to kick in. How does it work? You can begin with exploring possible opportunities. For example, maybe you like teaching and training new employees. This could lead to curiosity about working as a nursing instructor, or it could lead to being a training and development professional in the healthcare field, especially if you are a Registered Nurse. The point is that the opportunities are endless if you follow what curiosities you have in relation to your career. Just because you start off with one career profession, it doesn’t mean that during  your whole career you must stick to that profession.

Taking Action

So how do we go about taking action with planned happenstance? Following the example above as a nurse, you could go about contacting professionals who work in training and development in the healthcare sector. LinkedIn is a great source to find these people, or you could check out the website tenthousandcoffees.com to seek out professionals for an informational interview to see what their journeys have been and how they got to this point in their careers. Once you are able to speak with these people, you can put some of their methods to the test, or you could possibly come up with some of your own theories to create potential opportunities for yourself.

Another method to follow is knowing how to take advantage of chance events that occur in your life. For this approach, you have to begin to see your career with an open mind rather than indecision. For planned happenstance to be most effective, you also need to be persistent in your efforts. For example, don’t give up when one person doesn’t email you back. You must also be flexible in your efforts. Perhaps you are like the nurse who has extensive experience in training new colleagues, and you eventually find an opportunity in training and development with a large healthcare firm. You apply for the job, get an interview, but do not get the job on the first try. This would be an opportunity to learn and reflect on the interview, then follow up on flexibility by changing your approach for the next interview. Learning what you did well during the interview will help to build optimism and can lead to more interviews down the road. Learning from your mistakes can help you perform better, and therefore build confidence.

Another aspect of planned happenstance is being willing to take risks. You might get the opportunity to meet with another professional who is not in the healthcare field, and he/she wants to talk to you about a new project his/her firm is launching that is related to the healthcare field. The company wants a healthcare professional to assist in the project. Meeting with this person could open up the door to various possibilities. Even if you aren’t completely interested, this could be a chance event that you have been awaiting. The main thing with planned happenstance is to explore all opportunities as they come your way, even if you aren’t sure about them.

Planned happenstance is a method of curiosity which you use to explore new career opportunities or that you use to create chance events in your life. Whether it is taking a hobby you like and turning it into a job opportunity through exploration and trial and error, or it is seeking out new options through interests you have always wanted to explore, the theory of planned happenstance can help you to find and explore the right options to move your career in a new direction.

For more resources on Planned Happenstance, review the sources below:

Mitchell, K. (1999, 05 09). Don’t discourage friends considering career change. Retrieved 04 2017 , from; http://plannedhappenstance.com/news_dontdiscourage.html

Sharf, R. S. (2010). Krumboltz Social Learning Theory . In R. S. Sharf, Applying Career Development Theory to Counseling (p. 382 to 386). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning .

 

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About Jennifer Bouley

Jennifer Bouley is a Human Resources Professional and Career Coach who has been helping job seekers find their best careers. She has expertise in career development and resume writing. She is a graduate of Athabasca Universities Bachelor of Human Resources and Labour Relations program and Sheridan Colleges Social Service Worker program. She is based in Toronto, Canada.