Serendipity as a career plan?


I feel at the moment I’m at a chapter break in my life, looking for new opportunities in my working life, and I have been pondering how useful it is to set goals. The task of re-assessing one’s life and career path should always start with establishing one’s values, but this time, I have been wondering if the next step really has to be goal-setting. Perhaps it’s because I’m getting a bit older, but I’m tempted by serendipity right now.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you can never get lost.” Herb Cohen

Three times in my life I’ve had what I thought was the “perfect” job, and each time it came to an end. I’ve had jobs I cared about deeply. Sometimes the end came naturally, because jobs based on innovative ideas have a finite lifecycle once those ideas become adopted by the mainstream. Sometimes it’s been funding issues (lack of it) that got in the way. I have set myself goals and I have achieved them: I have been at the leading edge of innovation, I have made things happen, I have some interesting projects to hand, and have worked with exceptionally inspiring people, so where next for me?

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” Lawrence J. Peter

Perhaps “somewhere else” might be even more interesting than the places I know about and have already been …

I still have my dreams and values: of writing and of encouraging others to write; of learning and of facilitating the learning of others; of helping people to fulfil their potential by working together. But I’m not so sure I want to set a fixed agenda for my future right now. I’m keeping an open mind.

As in the title song “I’m on my way”, from the musical I’m sneakily very fond of, “Paint Your Wagon”:

Paint your wagon
And come along …

Where am I goin’?
I don’t know
Where am I headin’?
I ain’t certain
All I know
Is I am on my way

When will I be there?
I don’t know
When will I get there?
I ain’t certain
All that I know
Is I am on my way

Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner

So I’m painting my wagon and setting out to see where the road might lead me, to where serendipity can find me…