Planned Happenstance

Achieving Goals, Career Discovery, Presence, Self Awareness
06/10/19 - Eden Waldon

Planned Happenstance, yes where the magic happens. I am hoping to capture all of you career changers (life explorers) with this concept that I guarantee with a bit of curiosity, open-mindedness, and grit will get you exploring your options in no time! The planned piece is perfect for those of you that much prefer to have order and structure to understanding your career journey, and the happenstance piece for those that like me, prefer to go with the flow and allow events to unfold in your life unexpectedly that will later take shape and meaning.

I truly believe in the power of planned happenstance. These events are taking shape in everyday moments in life, and the kicker is, they are usually unexpected, yet we have a lot more to do with these events than we give ourselves credit. These events do not happen by luck. These events happen because of the action you take around the unexpected, unplanned part of the equation. What I really want to say is that expect the unexpected, and from there, run towards what is stirring inside of you to take action from that initial excitement, yearning, or draw you feel towards this unexpected encounter, conversation, or event.

What makes me excited and engaged in using Planned Happenstance are the key skills that you can implement right now to try this out on your career journey. These five skills connect the theory to practice.

challenging planned happenstance with curiosity


What are you most curious about? Curiosity allows us to stay open to exploring new learning opportunities and let’s face it, the career transition or job search will ask this of us directly. To help navigate the unexpected in any of these career steps, we do not always know where the next job opportunity may lead us. To remain curious can start with learning about ourselves. You can become curious by exploring conversation and meaning with others in an industry you are exploring, or even taking on a new learning experience by way of a course to learn new skills will keep you feeling motivated and unstuck during this process. To help you create more curiosity, start by asking yourself what other interest areas seem intriguing to explore, starting now! By starting now with curiosity, you will cultivate ways to learn by doing, learn by sharing and improving your skills.


Where can you consistently show up for yourself? To have accountability in your career process may include setbacks, yet despite those setbacks, you are willing to put in the time and effort to show up for the work. Every single one of us has used persistence in some way. You have been persistent with waking up and going to work, going to school, learning a new concept to challenge ourselves, but even more so, we have all faced a challenge and using persistence to overcome those challenges is the skill to continue to learn from past and future unplanned events. What can we do when the going gets tough? Reach out to your support system and be open to recognizing where you can seek help. This quote captures this all too well where writer Ashley C. Ford says on career transitioning,

“Ask for help. The worst you will hear is no, and it won’t kill you. But the yeses? The yeses are there and they’re waiting. Go get your yeses.”

planned happenstance by getting your yesses


To remain open to possibilities is to remain flexible in our reaction and transparency to opportunity. This key skill here is to remind you that in order to have opportunities present themselves, you will remain open to change and that includes a change in attitude at times. This is not an easy task, as it is comfortable to stick with what we know. How would your life change if you acted? How would your life change if you did nothing? The flexibility you allow yourself to explore and be excited by life sheds light on your openness in changing your attitude toward life. The inner work can prove to be difficult but with the shift in attitude, that same work will become more enjoyable.


Happy thoughts, happy life! To be optimistic and to use this as a skill, you first have to view new opportunities as possible. How would you describe a chance event you wish to happen to you? How can you then act now to increase the likelihood of that desirable event? You can control how you choose to act on any and all chance events and your optimism towards this action. These events may include conversations and chance meetings with someone at the grocery store or gym, or maybe a friend recommends you to connect with someone at their company. To embrace these opportunities (leads) as being possible and attainable is to be optimistic, and this is where you create your own luck.

Risk Taking

Opportunity to fail? Wait a second, failure is not optimistic. The idea of failure is scary and that comes with the territory of the unknown. Without knowing, how can we be sure our efforts are a success and without failure, will we challenge our depths to explore further? Without discomfort and uncertainty, can we truly grow? Maybe you have a creative risk you have been nervous to start and have self-doubt. Maybe you have always wanted to start a blog and share your work. Starting a blog may not be a huge success right away, however, without starting somewhere, we start nowhere. What is your wildest, spark of joy idea? Whatever it may be, take action to move in that direction. I know I have always wanted to teach yoga in remote locations around the world. Where I can take action now is to continue practicing my yoga and teaching skills and connect with other teachers who have taught abroad, and then, of course, I have to take the leap and actually teach a yoga retreat abroad! Have fun with this skill, see what happens when you allow yourself to grow out of your comfort zone with your wild ideas!

Planned Happenstance _ your comfort zone

I encourage you to test out this concept of Planned Happenstance and allow it to work for you. What I want for you is to explore yourself, know yourself and then by all means, get exploring by connecting with others, with activities, volunteerism, side hustles, a new career opportunity, a new hobby as you will find that taking action is not sitting passively. Taking action will allow you to encounter some unplanned events. These actions may call attention to ways you can be helpful to others. These actions may offer financial and social awards.  And then celebrate those actions! I hope to hear how you plan to take action and lean into the happenstance.

For those of you that want to learn more about Planned Happenstance and the skills mentioned above, here are some great reads:

Luck is No Accident

Fail Fast, Fail Often  

Adapted from Planned Happenstance: Constructing unexpected career opportunities. John Krumboltz, Al Levin, Kathleen Mitchell.

Newsletter signup - newsletter-signup page
Want to receive our thoughtfully crafted emails and updates to help you grow, challenge yourself and take action? Enter your details below. No spam, we promise!

Related Articles
Woman talking to another woman near a window

“What I’d really love to do is X, but to do so I’d have to take a pay cut…so forget it” If I had $1 for every time I’ve heard that statement from a client, friend, or family member, I’d be typing this from a yacht in the South of France. Yes, there might be […]

Read More
woman researching

So, you got the job. Hooray! Now you just need to do that job well and all your career dreams will come true. Right? Or maybe you’ve been in your role for a while, working hard and doing all the “right” things. It’s only a matter of time before you’re whisked away to the management […]

Read More