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Will Expecting the Unexpected Bring Career Contentment?

​We all have dreams and ambitions in our careers.

Some of us want to work for a certain company, others want to reach a certain seniority, and a fair few simply want to work for themselves. It is unlikely that we are exactly where we would like to be – the nature of dreams mean that they are out of reach, but we do everything we can to move closer to realising them.

That is where problems can start.

When we think about achieving a goal in our careers or our lives, we imagine a number of paths that we might take to help get us there. Opportunities come along, and if those opportunities help us to progress along one of these paths, we seize them with both hands.

However, these imagined paths are not always the only way to achieve our dreams. Fate is a far more fickle mistress, and it is often the case that we wind up being successful despite our best-laid plans rather than because of them.

When I talk to people in interviews, it is surprising how many times a random chance event has led to a breakthrough that they have been long seeking. When the unexpected knocks and it seems out of place in your career plan, what do you do? Embrace it, or side step it?

The choice to side step the unexpected events often boils down to the thought that we are too busy to take on such non-critical activities.

If my experience of productivity is anything to go by, we could probably do 50% more work if we were that little bit better organised and motivated. I often find myself thinking about how to word an email and all of a sudden five minutes has flown by. Time pressure is the key reason why we don’t take advantage of these unexpected opportunities, but the reality is that we can often give them a go and see where they lead.

If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Never knowing is not a good place to be.

In my experience, there have been a few times in my life where I have taken these unexpected opportunities, and I would say that open up new avenues of possibility, while still retaining the viability of the older paths. If something takes an extra 2% of effort for a week or two, why wouldn’t you want to give it a go? It could provide the key to taking your life and career to the next level.

When you expect the unexpected, you will already be in the mind set to explore these opportunities. You won’t think about it, you won’t weigh up the pros and cons, you’ll just do it. It will soon be clear whether these unexpected events will lead to something productive, and you will lose very little time in their initial exploration.

Why wouldn’t you want to open your life to the power of the unexpected?

You never know where it might lead!