I had meant to post this a few weeks ago as having observed the crazy Wellington weather (more so than usual with all the flooding) it reminded me yet again that life is so unpredictable. You make plans, you have ideas, but you never really know what is going to happen to you, whether those plans and ideas will go ahead. I made my plan to post my blog but got disrupted and as a result I now find myself having to reorganise everything to actually get it up!
That’s a very basic example of plans being interrupted but I talk to a lot of people who are trying to get their career direction sorted and many people feel like they have to know where they are headed. I’m similar in that respect so I do understand that feeling. I don’t think there is anything wrong in wanting to have a plan but I also think it’s important to be flexible and open to things not working out because, life.
Sometimes things don’t work out or go to plan for a specific reason. Whenever someone tells me they know what type of work they’d like to do or the type of industry or even the employer they want to work for I always suggest conducting an informational interview. Say you want to be a policy analyst. You have this vision of what it will be like to be a policy analyst based on your degree in Public Policy. You get a job working for the Ministry of Justice being a policy analyst and you realise you hate being a policy analyst. It’s completely different to the idea you had in your head. This is actually a true story! An information interview with someone in the job, or industry can help prevent yourself from developing unrealistic expectations. It’s also a good idea to check out past job descriptions which you can access on Victoria CareerHub. These are great for seeing if some of the day to day tasks listed really do match the thoughts you had in your head.
While you can have some control over your path in life you are also at the mercy of the labour market, budgets, other people, earthquakes, personal emergencies and more. It can be easy then to think ‘why should I bother planning with all that life can throw at you?’ My point is that yes, you may not know what life will throw at you but you can still be prepared to take advantage of those situations – knowing what your interests are, being receptive to unfolding events and being ready to act on them can help you make the most of opportunities – whether you like/want to plan or not.
I wrote a few years ago on planned happenstance and my manager has also written on chance encounters so do have a read and the next time something disrupts your plans don’t get annoyed, have a think about how it can work to your advantage instead.