Career belongs to a special category of words which can change meanings as your understanding of the world grows over the years. I remember being in school and arbitrarily deciding a career [software engineering] for myself. Over the years the meaning of this concept has changed so much that I have ended up in a space I hardly expected to be in when I was in school. The main reason this tends to happen with most kids is that we do not have all the information with us when we are young and as we grow older and experience new things, our understanding becomes fuller and the big picture tends towards more clarity.
Career is a defined as “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress”. This is a good definition but the choice before every student is not that easy. When one thinks of a career, it is understood that a significant portion of that person’s life will be devoted to it. Life is short and if you are going to spend your time and effort on something, better make sure that that is really what you want to do. This means you should be naturally inclined towards a field of study or profession and that you are passionate enough to dedicate a few decades to it. Isn’t that quite a bit of pressure to deal with? Yes it is, and that is why choosing a career should demand your maximum attention and patience.
Deciding a career path:
Not many people have a coherent idea of what they want to do in their life. You have to go ahead and figure this mystery out between the time you enter high school and hopefully be enlightened by the time you graduate from your degree course. It is possible these days, that you may have no idea about what you want to do and that is okay. The important thing is to realize this and then set about logically trying to figure a career for yourself.
In order to do so, you should sit yourself down and ask a few direct questions to yourself and have honest answers ready in return.
1. What are you most passionate about?
2. Are you good at this particular thing?
3. Can this passion of yours end up making money for you?
4. Do you see yourself doing it for at least a decade?
If your answers satisfy these criteria easily then the choice ahead of you is clear.
Invest in your career:
Once you have decided upon a career path, then there is no other way besides dedicating yourself wholeheartedly to this pursuit. If this is something that you are genuinely passionate about, then you won’t even have to put in special effort to progress further. You will be doing this automatically. Make sure that your career feeds your curiosity like nothing else. Being curious only means that you are hungry to learn and understand, a great trait to possess when you want to succeed in your field. Invest your time and effort in your career in a strategic way. Understand the highest limits till where you can go and regularly try to surpass them. If you have made the right choice, you work life will be a breeze. You will end up having a lot of fun, unlike other people who dread their jobs and are depressed at the thought of going to office on a Monday!
Handling unwelcome changes:
A word of caution though! Careers depend on market volatility and there are good chances that your interests may end up being irrelevant even though you might be good at it. As technology gets further entrenched in our lives, a scary amount of jobs and careers are at the brink of being irrelevant. Even though this might be unsettling, there is almost always a way out. Firstly, be smart about where your field is going. Stay updated about current developments in your area of interest. You will see tell tale signs when something is about to go wrong. Do not ignore them and cushion yourself against this in the best manner possible. You can do this by having a backup such as a small scale business that you run on the side, being a freelancer or a consultant. If you have some hobbies that you are into, then figure out a way to make them profitable for yourself.
Fulfillment and exploration:
Ultimately, you should be able to make a positive impact on this world of ours by way of your career. That is something that you should aim towards. In doing this, you will also be able to achieve fulfillment and thus have a happier life as you progress in time. Nothing is permanent and everything is bound to change, but you should be able to always be prepared for anything that might happen. This largely requires mental strength and also a conservative attitude towards spending and saving. There is nothing wrong in exploring other career options later in life. There are many paths towards fulfillment. Make sure that your explore as much as you can.
1. How to do what you love – Paul Graham
2. Daring to stumble on the road to discovery – Peter Sims