Campus: CSU Sacramento -- May 7, 2004

Book Promotes Luck and Chance for Career Planning

Just in time for graduation season comes a book by California State University, Sacramento professor Al Levin that challenges the stress-inducing idea that we have to know what we’re going to be when we grow up.

Instead, the professor of counselor education says, we should follow our interests and seize the opportunities that luck and chance throw our way. A plan is okay, Levin says, but most people in our fast-changing society don’t end up following a single, well-planned career path through life. So why try?
Levin’s book, coauthored with Stanford education and psychology professor John Krumboltz, is titled Luck is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career.

The book is packed with practical ideas, exercises and worksheets, as well as numerous stories of how people arrived in their current careers. It’s the product of workshops Levin and Krumboltz started while Levin was a counselor at Stanford’s career center.

The authors bill their work as the first career book that admits life doesn’t go according to plan. They say that only about 2 percent of people they’ve surveyed are in the occupation they had planned when they were 18 years old.

“The central message is that most people’s careers are influenced by unplanned, unpredictable events,” Levin says. “How you react to positive and negative experiences are powerful factors in determining the directions your life takes.”

Levin, for instance, had planned to be a lawyer, and says that none of his jobs have ever come through detailed planning. He suggests people follow a “flexible” career plan while also pursuing hobbies, joining associations, doing volunteer work – anything that helps them meet new people and come across new opportunities. He says those things are good not only for careers but for a fulfilling life.

Levin may be contacted at (916) 278-7019 or alevin@csus.edu. Additional media assistance is available from CSUS public affairs at (916) 278-6156.

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