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What does a Career really mean?

As our habitual routines are disrupted by uncertain circumstances like the one we’re in currently, we are faced with psychological and financial crisis pushing us to make drastic decisions and job switches, adding to the career pressure we’ve imposed on ourselves.

Here is an attempt to break the assumptions and answer some key queries associated with careers. Let’s get right to it!

#1 Career vs Job; What’s the difference?

Jobs are short-term work that help you get a paycheck, with or without the intensions of continuing on a long term, while a career is collective work pursued by you usually in a particular field. A career is the result of dedicated time and effort you put into your jobs in similar fields as you progress, giving you expertise and experience.

Technically switching jobs with no long term perspective in mind will not lead you to a career. But…nobody has defined the number of switches here so it’s fair to say as long as your experimenting to get to a role that you’re passionate about and would love to pursue in the long run, you’re good to go.

Though these terms (career and job) are pretty much talking about the work you do, the main differentiator is your attitude towards it. The mindset with which you pursue it and the objective with which you started in the first place.

Of course, most of us barely know where we want to be and the piling financial concerns convince us to settle on job roles that do not necessarily sync with what we want, but let this not discourage you. Every experience has something invaluable to teach you. Instead of coasting through your days, soak up all the learnings. You never know what skills can come in handy.

If you don’t have a passion yet, pour your time and effort into the work you have secured for yourself and see if you can ignite a spark to do more and climb up the ladder where more challenging and exciting endeavours await you.

If you’re one who goes with the swerve, see to it that you approach every task with a positive mindset and introspect to find out what really resonated with you. These observations will help you define your interests, helping you create and visualise a journey that will lead you to a career that you seek.

#2 Laying out a career plan; Is it essential?

Career, most often than not, is a non-linear process. Sure, you may have a clear idea of where you want to be, but will it work out exactly the way you’ve thought? Not necessarily.

Career planning basically gives you an idea of how you are going to go from where you are to where you want to be. This of course only makes sense, when you have at least an idea of what you would like to do — certainty will come over time.

Here’s something that Herminia Ibarra in Harvard Business Review had to say,

When you don’t know what the future will bring, or when the path you thought you were on takes an unexpected turn, it makes sense to pursue a diverse portfolio of options rather than just sticking single-mindedly to one.

…and we second that. Don’t get too stuck up on one idea of a career. A diversity in terms of skillsets is always an add on and will help you pivot when necessary.

Even Forbes agrees with this! In their article on Why You Don’t Need a Career Plan, Melody Wilding states,

Trying to predict the future is a losing battle. It’s impossible to know what your priorities will be a few years from now, let alone the opportunities you’ll be presented with. I see how a rigid fixation on planning your future can backfire, closing you off from important opportunities to grow.

It’s important you understand the difference between being goal-oriented and being a “textbook” person. Don’t get preoccupied trying to perfectly execute the details of your five-year plan and get trapped in analysis paralysis, missing new directions calling your name.

Also leaving you with something we believe you should think about, again quoted from Why You Don’t Need a Career Plan (also take the time to read this!)

Stop to question if your five-year-plan is yours…or someone else’s. Are you following your passion, pursuing work that lights you up, or are you living out someone else’s definition of success?

#3 Looking back at the journey

When we take the time today and look at our own core team, a whole lot of them…rather everyone made it to where they hoped they’d be.

It doesn't mean that if you have no idea about what you want, you won’t get what you want in the future. It just means you are open to trying new things.

Your career will pan out in time; resilience and flexibility are your truest strengths, embrace them. It’s important that you look back at your journey and see how each of the experiences led you to where you wanted to be, of course in the future. …And a little off topic but take the time to be grateful, to the people and experiences that helped you figure out what you were meant to do.

#4 The final destination: What is career success, really?

For many people, it’s what someone achieves, and in the business world, that’s often measured by title, recognition, fame, or wealth. We beg to differ.

Though all of these things are essential to live a ravishing life, a career that is successful will give you more than just that…it will give you satisfaction.

Not much to say here, really.

Anyway this is everything we think you should keep in mind and also another tip that I happened to pick up from someone on Linkedin which really struck a chord;

“Don’t define yourself as your job.”

You are more than a Software Developer, an Embedded Systems designer, or a Manager…you have an identity that is separate from your work.

Here’s a huge shoutout to you for reading this lenghty article that we at TCE have poured our heart into. We hope you break the status quo and constantly keep doing what you love. Don’t settle for less and keep searching…and if you find the time, (QUICK PROMO!) check us out at technicalcareer.education where we train and inspire problem solvers through technology.

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