This week, after a few inches of snow in the D.C. area, we lost power. No lights, no heat and icy roads make an interesting combination when you’re trying to figure out your next move. It’s gotten me thinking about how our careers—all of our careers—are looking these days. It’s hard not to feel like you’re just trying to jump start your career with the same old tricks, and getting nothing in return. Like flipping on and off a light switch when the power is out. You just get more of the same ole darkness.
So, new tricks? John D. Krumboltz, a longtime professor at Stanford University, proposes in his handy career book, that we adapt by taking advantage of lucky breaks coming our way. But you have no luck, you think. You’re in fact the most unlucky person you know when it comes to careers. Krumboltz asserts you can generate your own luck if you start to take action on your own behalf, if you get out there and talk with people who are doing what you want to do. Then, the real trick is, when you see a lucky break, you make your move quickly, before your chance disappears.
But wait, you don’t know what you want to do, you say. You can’t make a move until you have a Goal, capital G. You need to know your true calling. I work with so many people who feel like they need the perfect plan before they take action. The truth is, you just need to know what you want to try next, what sounds vaguely good, and then make a move, start getting out there, and let chaos start working for you.
What I love about Krumboltz is he acknowledges that you’re going to take some heat for this. People are going to call you on it. They’re going to say you’re crazy to follow a hunch, take a chance, make a move without a 10-year plan. He recommends practicing ways to tell people confidently that you don’t have a detailed plan, and you’re moving on anyway. I love that about him.
So yes, my plans have been derailed this week. I had planned to do a totally different post on this blog, and I had so many other plans before the lights went out. It’s not pleasant to be reminded of the chaos, but it’s good for us, in the end. We can start to work with it instead of wasting time with detailed 10-year plans.