"What-you-should-be-when-you-grow-up need not and should not be planned in advance." Or so John D. Krumboltz' argues after 50+ years of research and career counseling. Though simple, Krumboltz' makes a profound claim: "human behavior is the product of learning experiences made available by both planned and unplanned situations." It's the latter that matters.
Example chance factors that dictate learning experiences include:
- Observation of environment, others' behaviors, media
- Natural laws, manmade laws, local norms
- Parents, teachers, and caretakers
- Peer Groups and "minute-by-minute" socialization
- Social inequality i.e. status and birthplace
Plus strangers on the subway, streets, meetings, cafes, concerts, parties, and more.
So, follow your passions. Reframe risk as adventure. Focus on what you learn, not what you plan.
Career success is the sum of curiosity, flexibility, persistence, optimism, and risk-taking.
Alice literally stumbled into wonderland, the phantasmagoric dream world worth dying to live in. With an open-mind, she met many uniquely valuable friends, learned languages, logics, social dynamics, and even became savior of the universe.
Zooming out, Lewis Carroll published Alice's Adventures after insistence by fairy-tale author George MacDonald and his children. The book exploded commercially, netting him major profits, upper-class friends like Queen Victoria, and acceptance into academia, specifically following exposure to his mathematical and logical treatise, post-Alice.
If you get nothing else from this essay, get this: You can stumble into success too. See how much you qualify with a few questions.