Collingwood’s Corner: Who’s in charge of your life journey?

Five strategies to make sure it’s you!

Are we the sole “driver” on the road to our destiny, wherever it may take us? Or does fate intervene in our life and career journey? Put another way, do we make strategic choices in our lives or do we accept what John Lennon once said, that “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”.

We like to think of them as choice vs. happenstance, where choice = things you do within your control that either positively or negatively influences your outcomes, and where happenstance = forces outside of your control that either positively or negatively influence your outcomes. You consciously chose to come to the MBA program at the University of Alberta, but will happenstance play a role in your future chapters still to be written?  Here are some strategies to keep you in the driver’s seat on the road to your future success.

  1. Attitude – you, and only you, control your attitude. You can choose to let circumstances get you down and place blame on others, or you can choose to adapt and work on strategies to overcome whatever hurdles are in front of you.
  2. Lead yourself first – Understanding yourself is the first step in setting your career goals and aspirations. Stretch, of course, but be realistic in what you’re good at, what you want to do, and why you want to do it. Get in the habit of doing self-reflection when faced with these questions.
  3. Early is better than late – It’s easy (and convenient) to procrastinate. Some believe deadlines motivate best work, but in many cases other “emergencies” emerge that knock you off your expected timeline.  Think of it this way: “Being on time is the same as being late“. Keep your pit stops to a minimum on your road to success.
  4. Don’t “find” time – “make” time – You are in control of your time. You’ve heard the expression “I’d love to do that if I could only find the time“. If that’s your excuse, you never will. Priorities are yours to set, and if something is important to you, you will “make” time. Exercise is a good example.
  5. Let “happenstance” happen – You never know when a unique opportunity will present itself, so try to avoid being overly structured that you miss out. Happenstance is a part of life, so let your instincts guide you if it is the right time and place in your career journey to say yes!

Written by: Brent Collingwood

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