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Career Serendipity: How to Create Your Own Luck

Mar 22, 2017

I wanted to share something with you that some other coaching colleagues and I have noticed and often talked about: the ability to create your own luck. 

Let me explain... 

I frequently work with people who are in career transition, or contemplating reinventing themselves. Often, it takes awhile for them to move from the contemplation phase to the action phase. In fact, some people can stay stuck for years without changing their situation. Not a fun experience. 

Another common client scenario is someone who's just moved into a much bigger role, and they're not quite sure how to successfully approach this level of responsibility or where to begin. Perhaps they want a mentor to ask for advice, but don't currently have one. 

In both instances, to create career serendipity--"the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way"-- my advice is the same: 

1. Create an Intention and WRITE IT DOWN:

We humans have a tendency to ruminate on thoughts or ideas, and those thoughts can swirl around unproductively, creating anxiety. If you are at an inflection point in your career (or even thinking about one), articulate in writing what it is that you would like. What captures your interest and imagination? 

It helps to be as specific and straightforward as you can, but don't worry about crafting something perfect. Aim to get the essence of the idea or direction down. 

Just the act of deciding what it is that you would like and making it tangible by writing it down allows you to begin setting your luck in motion. 

2. Reach Out and Make Requests: 

The key to creating serendipity is to get into the habit of taking regular action. Specifically, you need to reach out and make requests. 

The more action you take, the faster you will begin noticing shifts. 

You don't need to over-plan here. Just keep your intention top of mind and do the thing that occurs to you in the moment. 

For example, a friend of mine had decided that she wanted to leave the company she'd been at for over a decade. While attending a big industry conference, she spotted a former business school classmate and made her way across the room to say hello. Though she is by nature an introvert, she got into the habit of pushing herself to reach out to others. 

While catching up with her classmate at the conference, she mentioned she was looking to make a transition. It so happens that her classmate had a friend who was looking to recruit someone for a key role at his company. My friend asked for an introduction. That role eventually became hers.  

And that brings me to the final point... 

3. Expect Opportunities to Come in Unexpected Ways:

 The only way to get more inbound opportunities is to create more outbound actions and requests. Just don't expect a direct, one-to-one return on your efforts. 

Here's what I mean... 

It could be that your dream is to work for Company X in a certain role. Should you reach out to Company X and see who you know there and if any of those roles are open? Absolutely. Should you check out their careers page to see if there are jobs you'd like? Of course. 

BUT, know that this is only one of many ways that you could achieve your goal. It would be great if there were an opening at the exact time that you were looking, but that's fairly unlikely. 

You are just as likely to uncover opportunities where you'd least suspect them, such as chatting with your neighbor, who just happens to know someone you should speak to at a company that's even better than the one you're considering. Or your gym friend whose cousin would make the perfect mentor.  

Just remember the formula:

Clear Intention + Lots of Action (Outreach and Requests) = Interesting New Opportunities  

When you have the impulse to make a connection with someone but aren't sure if they'll respond, err on the side of reaching out

You may not hear back exactly what you want from them, but you just might get a call out of the blue from someone that proves to be even more promising.  

Have you benefited from career serendipity? If so, please share your story in the comments below about how you created your own luck!


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