career decisions / career development

The magic formula for a fulfilling career

Concerned that you have no career ideas? Wondering how to navigate to a job or life that will be meaningful to you once you graduate? Wanting to get started on your career planning but not sure how?

I recently listened to Steven Bartlett’s engaging podcast featuring world-leading career coach Marie Forleo. The topic was ‘3 Steps to figuring out ANYTHING you want.’ In the podcast, Marie describes her own journey towards her meaningful career. By trusting her intuition that the job she was doing was not delivering the joy she’d hoped for, she quit a well-paid corporate job in order to retrain as a coach.

Clarity comes from engaging, not thought

One thing Marie said that resonated with me was ‘Clarity comes from engaging, not thought.‘ As she described her journey I was reminded of my favourite career theory. Developed in the 1990s by Professor John Krumboltz, the Planned Happenstance theory of vocational guidance focuses on 5 key traits which increase the likelihood of finding meaningful work, by being open and most importantly, by taking action. Marie’s story provides a perfect example of planned happenstance in action.

Be curious, explore and see where it takes you…

The Planned Happenstance ingredients:

1. Curiosity- to explore learning opportunities

By following your curiosity, you literally explore those things of particular interest to you. They may bear no relation to your current job. They may be hobbies or something you’re keen to learn more about. Follow your nose. Talk to people about your interests. Google them. Read books or articles. Your new role may not yet have a name. No matter. Keep being curious until it starts to take shape.

2.  Persistence – pushing through obstacles

Don’t be put off. It’s easy to be persuaded that the world doesn’t need another coach/florist/events organiser, or that others may be better than you/have more experience/connections. Everyone has to start somewhere. Remember the collection of life experiences you have. However random the combination, it’s unique to you.  It’s your USP.

3. Flexibility – willingness to to change how you respond to a variety of circumstances and events

There are many ways you can try to find your way into a different role. Most people won’t have the luxury of being able to give up their day job. However- could you retrain or learn part time? Volunteer to get involved in order to gain experience in your spare time? Spend an hour a day developing your interest instead of scrolling social media or watching Netflix? Explore different approaches and choose what works for you.

4. Optimism-to maximise benefits from unplanned events

It’s amazing, once you start to vocalise your interest, what opportunities and seemingly random people and events start to come your way. You simply need to be ready to seize them.  Say ‘yes’ to invitations, recommendations and introductions.

5. Risk Taking- taking action in the face of uncertain outcomes

This is the part that requires you to take a leap of faith. In the podcast Marie asks the question: ‘Is your gut reaction expansive or contracted?’ Say yes to the job offer which may pay less but which also gives you butterflies in your tummy when you think about it. Meet the person who may be a valuable contact, even if you’re nervous. Have confidence in your ability to manage change.

If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on’(Sheryl Sandberg.)

The 5 ingredients of Planned Happenstance

It’s important to deploy all 5 ingredients.  Optimism and flexibility alone won’t lead anywhere unless you commit to taking action. Risk-taking without first following your curiosity will simply lead you from frying pan to fire.

What will you do to move closer to your dream job/life?

After I posted the link to the podcast on LinkedIn, many readers commented excitedly on their own examples of Planned Happenstance. Take time to reflect on your own and others’ examples. You’ll find people referring to ‘luck’ and the ‘amazing coincidences’ that they’ve encountered. Analyse these examples and look instead for the 5 ingredients at work.

Marie Forleo’s Book, ‘Everything is Figure-Outable’ is available on Amazon

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