Only recently have I understood that coming too close to death in Peru in 2008 was the chance event that kick-started real change in my working life. However, my working life changed more in 2017 than it has throughout the previous decades. Why, because I said yes to uncertainty.
Start 2018 with a working life guided by purpose and meaning
Decades of research show the path of our working lives to be the outcome of chance, not planned, events. Also, research and our own lived experience tell us that humans are uncomfortable with uncertainty. In career counseling, two theories expand on this understanding: planned happenstance and positive uncertainty.
planning for the unplannable
The authors of planned happenstance say that the name of their popular theory is intentionally confusing. What they ask us to do, however, is develop the skills to create opportunities for yet-unknown, good things to happen.
An unplanned event that changes your career is going to happen anyway, so why not create an opportunity for something great to happen? Exploring new learning opportunities, being optimistic about your ability to prosper from new opportunities, being willing to change your beliefs, attitudes and circumstances, and taking risks in the face of uncertainty, are how we make great, yet-unknown, things happen.
embrace the uncertain future of work
The future of work has never been predicted with any accuracy. Only adaptation in the present ensures survival into the future. Trying to predict the future of work distracts us from creating a better world of work today, right now.
Career decision-making today that accounts for an unknowable future requires us to develop and practice positive uncertainty. A way to practice positive uncertainty is to accept that we always make decisions based on incomplete information, and changing our minds in the future is normal and desirable. Research shows that we make better decisions when we incorporate positive uncertainty.
goals are important, even the unfulfilling ones
Only by achieving goals can we learn if those goals were worth having in the first place. It’s the disappointment that comes after achieving certain goals that often motivates us to discover the purpose and meaning of our lives and create more meaningful goals. Thankfully, the work that flows from purpose and meaning never ends.
career advice for the New Year
- Accept that you cannot predict what your future of work will be
- Accept that you can create a future of work that will be rich in purpose and meaning
- Accept that your future of work lies in what you don’t yet know and have not yet experienced
- Try to learn and experience something new everyday
- Accept and learn from the disappointment you encounter along the way
- Share what you experience with others
The world of work will always change, and so can all of us.