Do You Believe in Destiny? Here’s How It Affects Your Career

Do you believe in destiny?

Some people believe that the outcomes in their life were “meant to be.”

Some people believe in “free will.”

And quite a few people are somewhere in between—maybe some things are up to you, while other things were somehow predetermined.


Did you know that these beliefs can predict what happens in a person’s career?

Let’s not stop to ponder if our ability to predict career outcomes is evidence of destiny or not.

Moving right along.

Let’s talk about 3 of the most important research findings you should know.



1. Belief in destiny predicts worse job performance

Research has shown that belief in “free will” predicts better job performance.

Why? Employees who believe in “free will” are more likely to exert control over their actions.

For example, they might choose to put in extra time and effort, ask questions, or double-check for mistakes.


Employees who believe in destiny are less likely to do such things.

If you believe that all your outcomes are already decided, there would be no reason. So you probably wouldn’t bother.


Note: This research shows that extra effort can, and does, increase job performance. What this suggests is that “free will” probably is, in fact, a real thing.

(Either that, or people who believe in destiny are simply destined to perform worse on the job. For some reason).


2. Belief in destiny predicts worse job engagement and satisfaction

Research has shown that belief in “free will” predicts better job engagement and satisfaction.

These beliefs actually influence how employees see their work environment.

Of the known factors that make employees happy with their job, this has an effect on one of the most important: autonomy.


Employees who believe in “free will” also feel like they have more control over their careers, and over the specifics of how they do their jobs.

This causes greater job engagement and satisfaction.


Employees who believe in destiny feel like they have less control over their jobs and careers.

And this leads to lower job engagement and satisfaction.


Note: This research finds that the effect is stronger in countries that believe more strongly in “free will,” on a national level. If you’re born into a culture that believes in destiny, your personal belief in destiny probably has less negative impact on your job satisfaction.

Is that destiny? It’s hard to say.


3. Belief in destiny strikes at the worst times

Researchers recently discovered pretty much exactly how this process works.

Most people aren’t all-or-nothing when it comes to destiny.

Most people believe in destiny more at certain times, or for certain things.


The key ingredient seems to be importance.

The more important a task is, the more important an outcome is, the more likely people are to believe that destiny is involved.

Unfortunately, the result is that people actually tend to put less effort into more important things.

After all, the outcome was already “fated.” It was either “meant to be” or it’s not.


What happens when you put in the least effort for the most important things?

It’s probably very bad for your career.


Note: If that whole destiny thing is actually real, it doesn’t matter what you choose to do.

…But it probably does matter. That’s what most of the research seems to suggest.

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