Stuck in the office until later than official close time (due to a traffic accident nearby – hope everyone’s okay), I decided to use my time productively. Admittedly, that’s after eating cake with my colleagues to celebrate a forthcoming wedding, but still here I am back at my desk!
Those who know me might wonder what qualifies me to blog about time management when it’s quite clearly not one of the gifts Mother Nature brought to my christening – though most of them are too polite and diplomatic to point it out. It’s fair to say that my personal style can quite reasonably be characterised as a last-minute whirlwind, on occasion. In my defence, though, I generally get things done when I put my mind to it.
And THIS I believe is the key: “when I put my mind to it“. There is a brilliant careers theory called Planned Happenstance, which you can learn more about here: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/pgmde/resources/Mitchell%20Levin%20Krumboltz.pdf. The gist of it is that happenstance or luck has an important part to play in career choice and development. Some might actually prefer to call it fate, particularly since plenty of great decisions and opportunities are the silver linings found in disastrous thunderclouds that you’d never call ‘lucky’. However, what the writers really show is that there’s another, more accurate way of explaining how our lives turn out. When you delve in deeper, the things successful people may describe as chance encounters that just turned out to be hugely significant aren’t really dumb luck at all. It’s not pure happenstance, there’s always an element of planning!
Let’s say you meet an employer at the Careers Fair and a few months down the line you’re ‘lucky’ enough to end up with a job. You were in the right place at the right time, but how did you get there? Break it down and there are a lot of steps involved in this figurative journey:
- finding out about the event,
- turning up to the event,
- seeing who’s there,
- deciding who to talk to,
- striking up a conversation,
- asking sensible questions,
- giving relevant answers to their questions,
- taking note of information and advice provided,
- following up and acting on what you learn….
…and that’s a minimum. Go deeper and you have to consider which choices meant that you ended up at the University of Surrey, for a start. And how about the lifetime of ‘stuff’ you did that gives you interesting topics to discuss? The important thing to notice is that all of these steps, without exception, require conscious action on your part. If you want to try to argue that suggestion, be my guest – comments welcome! At the very least, you must concede that some brainpower input and ‘action’ of the thought processing variety is needed. Which, when you think about it, is the exact same thing as ‘putting your mind to it’ isn’t it?
So, if you’re one of those people (and I’ve met many) who modestly say things like I was lucky enough to be voted Head Girl/selected for the team/given a promotion/offered work experience at Buckingham Palace in your CVs, applications and interviews, now’s the time to break that habit. That’s a conscious action everyone can take, right now. Consider carefully both what you want to say and how best to say it: show your graduate skills by analysing and properly defining what it was that you did or said that made things ‘fall into place’ and explain it in active rather than passive terms. Give yourself a bit of credit for getting your life together instead of letting employers believe it was all down to fate.
When you want to make something happen, go for it. Even if that ‘something’ is ‘start thinking about jobs’ that’s fine. A tiny tip-toe is a step in the right direction. In fact, even a twirly detour can be a useful step, as long as you find something out along the way.
And now I hope the road will be clear, with the accident victims safe and sound, receiving any treatment and support they need. I’m off home, feeling rather smug about constructively filling the last half hour.