How To Be Ready For Unexpected Twists And Turns In Your Career Path

Image of a person sitting on a ledge looking over a winding road

By Cherie Simms BASc, CVRP - Career Advisor and Employer Liason with Student and Graduate Employment


They call it Happenstance! It’s those unexpected, mere coincidences that incidentally result in something new.

The Planned Happenstance Career Theory, developed by John Krumboltz, AI Levin, and Kathleen Mitchell, suggests that individuals can positively navigate unexpected changes in their career path by cultivating five key traits. These traits include curiosity, persistence, flexibility, optimism, and risk-taking.

Curiosity calls for you to explore new learning opportunities while delving deeper into your interests, skills, and attributes, and discovering new career paths by engaging with people in various occupations and industries, using a variety of networking and research strategies. For information on career networking and research strategies check out these articles on Networking and Job Searching.

Persistence is the ability to deal with obstacles and stay the course despite challenges, disappointments, or setbacks. You can do this by building a network of supportive people and services such as employment, academic, or personal counseling and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits. These tools can help you to stay motivated during challenging times. 

Flexibility is needed to address a variety of changing circumstances and events and is crucial in adapting to change. Maintaining a positive outlook in the face of change and being able to see the bright side can lead to an overflow of growth and learning opportunities and has the potential to open doors you never knew existed. Someone once told me that “when one door closes, a window opens” and you know what? Several windows opened after that! 

If you struggle with adapting to change, consider reading articles or resources that can help. For instance, check out this LinkedIn article for useful tips: “How to Adapt to Change in the Workplace”

Optimism can help to maximize benefits from unplanned events and plays a significant role in attracting new possibilities. Do you keep an open mind when new paid, or unpaid opportunities come your way? Consider the skills and exposure you can gain from those experiences and rather than saying, “It’s not part of my plan”, or “This isn’t what I originally wanted” instead say, “I wonder what this could lead to” or “Let me try this out and see what happens”.

Risk-taking is about not being fearful of unforeseen challenges but embracing calculated risks that can lead to new possibilities, growth, and success.

By embodying these traits, individuals can be better prepared for unexpected twists and turns in their career paths, leading to a more satisfying and fulfilling professional journey.

To learn more about Planned Happenstance, check out this article called “How ‘Planned Happenstance’ can help your career”