February 10, 2016
In an earlier blog post, we discussed John Krumboltz’s Happenstance Learning Theory and we offered four powerful questions for you to ponder. Questions aimed at individuals who feel stuck and need some help moving forward with their career goals. If you haven’t read that post yet, then take a look here.
Krumboltz recognized that career paths are often formulated through a mix of small decisions, big decisions, and happenstance or luck. He didn’t believe that people should make one plan and stick to it. Especially, if that meant staying in an unsatisfactory occupation just because it was declared to be your goal at one point in time.
According to Krumboltz in the Journal of Career Assessment:
“In a nutshell, the HLT posits that human behavior is the product of countless numbers of learning experiences made available by both planned and unplanned situations in which individuals find themselves. The learning outcomes include skills, interests, knowledge, beliefs, preferences, sensitivities, emotions, and future actions.
The situations in which individuals find themselves are partly a function of factors over which they have no control and partly a function of actions that the individuals have initiated themselves.”
He encouraged individuals to initiate and engage in exploratory actions as a way of creating happenstance – these unplanned yet often beneficial events which can dictate our lives. People often get stuck in doing this, so he created questions aimed at overcoming blocks to action.
Here are four more powerful questions for you to consider:
- What do you believe is stopping you from doing what you really want to do?
- What do you believe is a first step you could take now to move closer to what you want?
- What do you believe is stopping you from taking that first step?
- How would your life become more satisfying if you were to take appropriate action?
If you are a fellow in training at the NIH and would like to have more help to support your progress, we invite you to make an appointment with an OITE career counselor.
March 17, 2014
In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to take another look at what luck really looks like. If you search the word “luck” on this very career blog, many of the results include interviews with NIH alumni who have attributed some part of their career to luck. This is a small example which reflects a larger sentiment. Many individuals feel that their career path has unfolded by chance and they somehow just got lucky.
In fact, there is actually a Career Development Theory of Planned Happenstance pioneered by Dr. John Krumboltz which supports this. You can read more about this theory in his book, Luck Is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career; however, this approach emphasizes the role of chance and taking advantage of unplanned opportunities that come your way.
The previously held belief that a career path unfolds as a set of steps within a linear process is constantly being challenged by today’s job market. So, how can you use planned happenstance to help create your own luck and turn seemingly random events into productive opportunities? According to Krumboltz’s theory, there are five critical skills to develop and utilize:
Explore learning opportunities — topics, occupations, hobbies and activities that are of interest to you. Attend a presentation, sign up for a class, or do an informational interview. Increasing your exposure to more things increases your chances of discovering a new opportunity.
There will be many barriers along the way — both internal (indecision, self-doubt) and external (job rejections, layoffs). The key is how you persist in your career exploration.
Sometimes the dream job appears at the wrong time or in an inconceivable location. Being flexible means being open to opportunities even when they don’t match our preconceived “ideal.”
Avoid negative language that is global in nature such as “Things never work out for me…” or “I can’t ever do that because…” Verbalizing negativity contributes to reinforcing a cycle of despair.
- Risk Taking
Challenge yourself to take risks that are manageable (but somewhat scary) to you. Taking a risk can mean any number of things to different people. For some, it could be changing their career path entirely; for others, it could mean talking to someone they consider intimidating. Whatever risk means to you, realize it is often a necessary aspect within self-discovery and a job search as well.