In the contemporary world of work, an individual seeking to pursue a successful and meaningful career must adapt to a variety of continuous changes and complex environments. Unpredictable events are an important component influencing individual career development [1
]. However, traditional career counselling theories (person–profession fit theories) have focused on the control process rather than trying to include the concept of change in career counselling, which is usually considered to be a service provided for students by higher education institutions. Nowadays, possessing a set of professional competencies may no longer be sufficient for successful career development, additional resources are needed in order to flourish in the turbulent labour market [2
]. The theory of planned happenstance [3
] is a comprehensive framework offering an explanation and solution of how to manage a career in conditions of unpredictability and to benefit from unexpected events. The role of chance events in an individual career has been proven by various empirical studies [6
]. According to authors [1
], unpredictable events can turn into learning experience which leads to positive consequences in career development. Furthermore, pursuant to the concept of planned happenstance, there is a set of skills which enable individuals to recognize, create and use unplanned events as their career opportunities. These competencies are particularly important to students since apart from developing their professional qualifications, they should also seek to acquire the resources which facilitate a successful adaptation to the academic environment, and even more, to prepare for their career management in this rapidly changing world. In addition, gaining career-related resources stimulates positive outcomes already while studying which can create a good basement for starting off students’ careers with strong human and psychological capital [2
]. The planned happenstance skills help survival and ensure success in the contemporary world of work, the issues which higher education institutions are preparing students for. In recent years there has been growing interest in the concept’s relationship with other career-related variables. Planned happenstance skills have been found to be associated with occupational engagement, career decision self-efficacy [12
], intrinsic work values, career networking [5
], life adjustment [4
], career decision self-efficacy and decrease in dysfunctional career thoughts [14
]. The utilization of planned happenstance skills may not only be beneficial with regard to career-related challenges but also to managing students’ daily life issues.
Psychological wellbeing and quality of life of human beings is central to psychology of sustainable development and sustainability. With reference to Di Fabio [15
], psychological wellbeing can be achieved by building resources and strengths, thus preventing negative outcomes in the future. Utilizing planned happenstance skills may be perceived as a preventive individual strength which helps to cope with the challenges posed by the turbulent reality of 21st century. In other words, having resources and knowledge of positive functioning in today’s modern society may be a great facilitator for individuals to create and lead meaningful lives and careers and, in general, to promote their wellbeing in different contexts and environments. Hence, we believe planned happenstance skills may stimulate students’ psychological wellbeing and an easier adjustment to academic settings. However, too little attention has been paid to comprehensive investigation into the relationship of planned happenstance skills with psychological wellbeing and with academic adjustment.
The aim of the present study is to examine whether planned happenstance skills affect psychological wellbeing and academic adjustment.
The paper consists of five parts. Section 2
, i.e., the literature analysis section, provides a brief theoretical overview of the happenstance learning theory and explains the conception of planned happenstance skills, together with formulating the hypothesis of the research. The methodology of the research is outlined in Section 3
. In Section 4
, analysis results are examined, and conclusions are drawn in the final part.
3. Results and Discussion
Mean items scores (Table 2
) for the study variables were in the high range indicating that students’ level of planned happenstance skills, psychological well-being and academic adjustment were high enough. Specifically, the data indicated that students were characterized by high levels of optimism (M = 19.96; SD = 3.571), flexibility (M = 20.64; SD = 2.743), curiosity (M = 20.57; SD = 2.353). and personal growth (M = 28.63; SD = 3.776).
As can be seen in Table 3
, correlations indicated significant relationship between overall planned happenstance score and overall psychological well-being score (r = 0.525. p
< 0.01). Furthermore. overall planned happenstance score was found to be significantly related to all the dimensions of psychological well-being indicating that the more students utilize the planned happenstance skills the better they feel about their autonomy (r = 0.354. p
< 0.01), environmental mastery (r = 0.487. p
< 0.01), personal growth (r = 0.562. p
< 0.01), positive relations (r = 0.358. p
< 0.01), purpose in life (r = 0.368. p
< 0.01) and self-acceptance (r = 0.549. p
< 0.01). The planned happenstance dimension of optimism was significantly and positively associated to all psychological well-being dimensions (correlations ranging from r = 0.334. p
< 0.01 to r = 0.453. p
< 0.01). Other dimensions of flexibility, persistence, curiosity and risk taking were significantly correlated with most of planned happenstance dimensions, whereas the strongest relations were found between flexibility and self-acceptance (r = 0.344. p
< 0.01), risk taking and personal growth (r = 0.367. p
Next, we checked the relationship between planned happenstance skills and dimensions of academic adjustment (Table 3
). It appeared that planned happenstance skills had a significant relationship with academic achievement (r = 0.479. p
< 0.01). More specifically all planned happenstance resources were correlated with academic achievement except for risk taking. Unfortunately, overall planned happenstance score does not show significant correlation with academic motivation. Persistence was the only dimension found to be associated to academic motivation (r = 0.204. p
To examine the predictive role of planned happenstance skills on psychological well-being, multiple regression analysis was conducted. The results (Table 4
) of the regression indicated one predictor explained 31.5% (F(5.99) = 10.565. p
< 0.0001) of variance. More specifically, optimism significantly predicted psychological well-being (β
= 0.456. p
< 0.001). Thus, we found support for hypothesis 1 indicating the importance of planned happenstance skills in predicting psychological well-being.
Next, we checked the predictive role of planned happenstance skills on academic achievement (Table 5
) and academic motivation (Table 6
). It appeared that two predictors explained 26.7% (F(5.99) = 8.560) of academic achievement variance where specifically optimism and flexibility showed significant standardized regression coefficients (β
= 0.406. p
< 0.001; β
= 0.188. p
< 0.05). It is important to note that optimism was a stronger predictor of academic achievement than flexibility.
To examine the predictors of academic motivation we included only persistence as a possible predictor since only this planned happenstance dimension was significantly correlated to the factor variable. Persistence accounted for 4% (F(1.103) = 4.320. p < 0.05) of academic motivation variance. Overall, these findings provide a support for Hypothesis 2.
We also tested the predictive role of planned happenstance skills on the dimensions of psychological well-being. To decrease the amount of variance explained by non-significant correlates, we included only the variables significantly related to factor variables. The findings indicated (Table 7
, Table 8
, Table 9
, Table 10
, Table 11
and Table 12
) that planned happenstance skills significantly (respectively F(3.101) = 4.749. p
< 0.005; F(5.99) = 8.244. p
< 0.0001; F(5.99) = 9.335. p
< 0.0001; F(2.102) = 10.964. p
< 0.0001; F(3.101) = 10.824. p
< 0.0001; F(4.100) = 12.656. p
< 0.0001) accounted for all the dimensions of psychological well-being where the standardized regression coefficients ranged from β
= 0.124 to β
The results of regressions revealed that predictive role of planned happenstance skills is the highest when predicting environmental mastery (R2
= 0.258. p
< 0.0001), personal growth (R2
= 0.286. p
< 0.0001), purpose in life (R2
= 0.221. p
< 0.0001) and self-acceptance (R2
= 0.310. p
< 0.0001) as the accounted variance for autonomy (Table 6
) and positive relations (Table 9
) is lower than 20%. Optimism presented significant standardized regression coefficient for all psychological well-being dimensions whereas flexibility was significant predictor of environmental mastery and self-acceptance.
Summarizing. data analysis revealed that planned happenstance skills are significant predictor of students’ psychological well-being and academic adjustment. Specifically, optimism was found to play an important role in predicting academic achievement and all aspect of psychological well-being. Thus, in line with our expectations planned happenstance skills might serve as an important personal resource stimulating students‘ well-being and successful adaptation to new professional environments.
Our study has several important implications. Firstly, this study adds empirical evidence and strengthens the theory of the planned happenstance which, despite the growing research interest, receives little empirically based findings. In line with our expectations, the results of the study revealed that all planned happenstance skills were positively related to psychological well-being and most of its facets. Furthermore, the planned happenstance skill optimism was a significant predictor of well-being. Current research extended the existing studies by showing that planned happenstance skills predicted not only career-related variables but also psychological variables. We stated that the skills of planned happenstance can serve as important personal resources stimulating students’ welfare through adopting a positive attitude towards uncertainty and unpredictable events. Consistent with our expectations, the findings revealed that optimism as a dimension of planned happenstance was an important predictor of the aspects of well-being such as environmental mastery, personal growth, and self-acceptance, indicating that optimistic view on future career opportunities and attainability play a significant role in attaining a higher level of mastery and competence in managing the environment, feelings of continued development, and possessing a positive attitude toward the self. Also, flexibility (ability to change attitudes and cope with changing circumstances) was found to be a significant predictor of environmental mastery and self-acceptance. Thus, career related optimism and flexibility, which predict psychological wellbeing, can be perceived as significant individual strengths which contribute to sustainable development of each person in different contexts.
Taking into consideration the research findings, institutions of higher education in the process of developing professional and employability competencies of the students should pay more attention to planned happenstance skills enabling students to constructively deal with complex situations, to maintain professional mastery and personal growth tendencies after graduation. This is especially relevant in the context of permanent changes in the labor market, which require the participants in it to sustain their employability and assure their wellbeing via personal resources.
The test results of the second hypothesis revealed mixed findings. The planned happenstance skills were significantly related to and predicted students’ academic achievement, a component of academic adjustment. Thus, our results confirmed the theoretical notion that utilizing the skills of planned happenstance prompts positive, active behavior and contributes to a productive adaption to new environments. However, the planned happenstance skills were not related to academic motivation except for the persistence dimension.
The present study gives certain insights to future research. First, the data of the study were cross-sectional. Although the planned happenstance skills predicted psychological wellbeing and academic adjustment in our study, the causality is not clear between variables. Thus, future longitudinal studies should measure variables over time. Second, we used only self-reported questionnaires. Future researchers should consider using multiple assessment methods to measure the constructs. Besides subjective measuring of academic achievement, an objective method such as GPA scores could be used. Finally, as a person’s psychological wellbeing in general is integral with the sustainability of organizations and the sustainability of the society [39
], it is important to explore the planned happenstance phenomenon in a broader context.