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Making Happy Career Choices

May 13, 2014

‘What you have is all God’s gift to you. What you do with what you have is your gift to him’.

Sachin Tendulkar started playing cricket at the age of 6. Michael Schumacher started Go-karting at the age of 4. Lata Mangeshkar started singing at the age of 6. Very few people start early in their life where they belong.

Where do you belong?

If you have not figured it out yet, its time to take a pause...

To know Yourself. To discover your gifts. To know your values. To find out something that you love to do. To find out something that will make you feel happy and comfortable. To find a job that will make you feel this is the place I need to be. To understand what is good for you to perform and what is not.

Successful careers are not planned. They develop when you are prepared for opportunities by knowing your strengths, your method of work, and your values.

Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person, hardworking and competent but otherwise mediocre, into an outstanding performer.

Success is a result of opportunity meeting prepared mind.

So, coming to the most important question in today’s youth, How to choose and make a successful career?

Traditional approach: Choice based on educational grades, parent’s choices, friend’s choices, senior family person recommendations, general trend (ie Engineering / MBA /CA etc), or more money in a particular career. These choices may turn out to be perfect, ok or wrong.

Today’s scenario: A world with career options available in galore. Internet at hands simplifying the ease of knowing about those options. Add to this smaller families & easy finance options; The entire aspect of making career choices has changed.

But still most people follow the old principle of choices and think getting through a good Engineering/ MBA college etc. is the passport to a great career.

Now let me ask you, have you met someone who is from a top school/ college confessing secretly- ‘I worked so hard to be here; but now I realize- this is just not what I wanted’? For majority of you the answer would be Yes.

What happens? Youngsters work hard to get into engineering/ MBA colleges. Then they fight out through competition to join high profile jobs. Then they realize this not the place they want to be in. Either their expectations do not meet or they are hit by boredom. Wrong choice of career?

Also, today you see lot of people working; but mostly trapped. Software Engineers from good colleges not enjoying doing coding, MBAs not enjoying managing and technical persons wishing to get into management after years of experience are common stories you hear nowadays. Again wrong choice of career?

So the question arises, is there a smarter way of making career choices?

To be honest, I have tried to simplify and be as logical as possible whenever I have been faced with this question from graduates.

It has always been a difficult question to answer. But anyways, here is what I feel.

While choosing careers you need to look at two aspects; your Gift and the right Job to showcase your Gift.

Your ‘Gift’ is something which you are very good at. It is your deepest feeling to do that particular thing ahead of many others. Your ‘Gift’ is something which connects all the dots of your growing up years and experiences. It is something which is stationed deep in you. Your ‘Gift’ is what you wish to express to the world and your ‘Job’ is ‘how you express’.

Most people base their career decisions on just the other part ie ‘Job’. If your ‘Job’ is not aligned with your ‘Gift’ it will lead to career anxieties. Knowing your gifts and working on a relevant job will create an excellent career with outstanding results.

To find the appropriate JOB for your GIFT is an ongoing process of understanding yourself. As you will expose yourself more to the world, you will begin to understand your hidden GIFT and then gradually will also be able to identify the best JOB for the same. As you start finding what is right for you, you will start making correct choices. If you are confused to figure out the right job for you try using the elimination formula. To identify what is the right for you is to start eliminating jobs that are not for you. Soon you will filter out the jobs that would suit you.

Know where you belong. It might take some time for few of you. It’s okay. You might have to shift a few jobs before you find the right one for you. But once you do that, make most of it.

Find areas where you can excel and give your best.

Ask yourself, what is it that challenges you, you secretly dream about?

What is that excites you, makes you feel to get up early and sometimes makes you sit up in the middle of the night with an exciting idea?

Identifying your ideal career takes time and it certainly takes a few mistakes. Keep on making intelligent, informed & heart centric decisions and sooner or later; you will be there.

Most people give up after the first few failures. Be persistent in spite of failing, you are bound to be successful. A lot of entrepreneurial start-ups close down because they fail to carry on.

Nothing substitutes pure happiness. When you love the work you do, the results that you will generate will have high value for yourself and others. Money will eventually follow. It would not elude you for long; even if it does initially.

It’s critical to take some real, solid career decisions which flow from your heart. Do not delay getting off the bus which doesn’t take you to your destination. The earlier you do, the better are your chances to make mistakes and bounce back to the right path.

A lot of people in your life- your family, your friends, and your relatives might find you crazy. But once they start seeing you being successful, the same people will begin to seek your advice on ‘how to do, what you did’.

Let money not be the biggest factor while taking career decisions. Let the real thing be- satisfaction & fulfillment. Let the driving reasons be quality of work which makes you better in terms of your skills & contributions – every passing day.

Finally to sum it up, only you are responsible for what you make out of your life/ career. Whatever you are today is a result of decisions that you took previously. The decisions were yours. If you are not happy with the present situation- change it. You need to take some more bold decisions. No one is stopping you from making different and newer choices.

Think- Is it you who is trapping yourself?

Ultimately, you may choose to grow or you may choose to just survive. Choice is yours.
Here is one of my favorite quotes from Steve Jobs,

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

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