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Why Embracing the Unknown is Better than Following a Perfectly-Laid Plan: My Unexpected Career Journey

· 4 min read
Yiyang Hibner

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Guest Post Author: Keith Howard

It’s okay to not have a clue. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s downright necessary if you want to find comfort in uncertainty. Career paths are no longer linear trajectories that we map out in our early twenties and follow until retirement. The days of working for the same company from 9-5 for forty years are gone. We now live in an age where job security is a thing of the past and work/life balance is more important than ever. So how do we navigate this uncertain landscape? How do we find comfort when we don’t have a roadmap to follow?

The answer is simple: embrace the unknown. Accept that life doesn’t always go according to plan and be open to exploring new opportunities without fear of failure. Don’t get too caught up in mapping out a perfect career path because sometimes the best things come when we least expect them. Take time to reflect on your skills, passions and values. Don’t be afraid to try something new or take a risk. You might surprise yourself and find success in unexpected places.

Take my career path... I've had MANY plans over the years

2003 - I was going to join the military for 4 years then go to college.

2005 - Change of plans - I was accepted to the United States Naval Academy!

2008 - I'm want to be a fighter pilot!

2010 - Change of plans - helicopters are much more fun and I want to live in San Diego!

2014 - I'm going to get my MBA in Finance to become an Investment Banker!

2017 - Change of plans - I'm going to be a Dad! I can't work investment banking hours. Let's try tech!

2019 - I like being a TPM, but I really enjoy working with Product Managers, I think I want to try to become a PM!

2020 - Change of plans - COVID. Second Kid. Cross Country Move. I don't know which way is up..

2022 - I've been working with Data PMs a lot, maybe I'll pursue another masters but in Analytics, go the data route then shift over to data PM at PayPal!

2023 - Change of plans - SVP leaves the company, organization gets dissolved, officially unemployed.

It seems like life is full of plans that never come to fruition. We make them, we set goals and expectations for ourselves, and then something always comes along to disrupt our best laid plans. It's okay though — in fact it's more than okay — it's essential! After all, if everything went according to plan there would be no surprises or discoveries along the way. Life is an adventure, so why not embrace the unexpected? Who knows where you'll end up if you just go with the flow? Sure, making a plan can be helpful but don't get too attached to it because chances are things won't turn out exactly as expected - and that's perfectly alright!Life is full of twists and turns that we can never predict. Plans may change, but if you stay open to new opportunities and embrace the unknown, then you just might find yourself in a better place than where you started.

The best way to navigate this uncertain landscape is by reflecting on your skills, passions and values while also being willing to take risks and try something new. As my own career path shows us, it's okay not to have all the answers - sometimes life takes us places we could have never imagined! So don't get too attached to any one plan or roadmap; instead be prepared for anything unexpected along the way as those are often our most rewarding experiences yet!