“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question that begins around age five and haunts us until adulthood, when it transmogrifies into, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
To avoid the disappointing and scornful glances that come from answering “I don’t know”, we learn to respond with a pat occupational objective. But as Jeremy Dean of PsyBlog points out,
Most of us like to think that we have chosen our occupations, rather than them choosing us. We have reasons for what we are doing, visions of where we want to get to. We have career planning, career goals – the feeling of control.
And yet if you ask people about their career decisions, almost 70% report that they have been significantly influenced by chance events. The two Australian psychologists who carried out this research, published next month in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour, believe they have provided further support for the Chaos Theory of Career Development.
Researchers examining chaos theory, notes the Dictionary of Vocational Psychology, tend to emphasize not the consistent, orderly nature of career patterns, but rather the importance of initial conditions and the impact of seemingly random perturbations on career development, that somewhat disrupt the ultimate trajectory of individual careers.
Some of these “random perturbations” include: