A good driver knows the car, knows where he or she is headed and the route to the destination. A great driver does all of that as well as knowing the internal mechanics of the car - just in case there is a breakdown, the journey never comes to a standstill. Point being, that while figuratively most of us would have some broad idea of how our careers should pan out, what stops us from truly taking charge is the fact that very rarely do we pay attention to the underlying mechanics of how careers work and what they are all about.
- Career decisions are not an outcome of ambition, aptitude and opportunity, neither is it just a function of role, remuneration and power.
A career is not about you alone, a career is an outcome of an intersection of several other parallel roles one plays in each life stage. Realizing this simple fact, that careers are not singular pursuits at all gives another dimension and perspective to careers and saves a lot of frustration or guilt.
- The Actors – You + Organization + Significant Others
The other important aspect about careers is recognizing the actors in play while charting out career paths.
For most people the only actor in the play is themselves. Look around for the number of stories one would have heard about how someone made a career move to follow one’s spouse or move closer home to take care of parents. The career decision may be made by an individual but the number of people influencing that one decision is many.
The most potent stakeholders in that decision are
- The Individual (but of course!)
- Significant Others (Family, Friends, Spouse, Role Models) and
- The Organization
Every career decision is an equation of two parties – The individual and the organization. However, the chemistry is dictated by the Significant Others, who play the role of a catalyst while bringing about this decision. Balancing the expectations of these actors perhaps is the most delicate and tough ask.
- Careers are a Cultural, Social & Economic pursuit
Careers are not just an occupational choice spread over time. Whether college bound or work bound, it’s influenced by cultural and social norms. But for a lot of individuals often the economic status has a disproportionate influence over career choices. Acknowledging these primary factors alone helps us take balanced decisions with regards to our career.
- Careers are Unique and Non-replicable
When we look to charting our own career path, emulating choices of those, who have been successful needn’t always bring one success. Careers are not factory made and each career is uniquely crafted by different life experiences, circumstances, opportunities and the person. I believe comparing career paths is a futile endeavor because every career is dotted by such variety of variables and choices. There is never – ‘This is the only way’ when it comes to careers. When it comes down to your own career decisions, walk your own path.
This is the Chapter 2 of the 7 part series on Career Management by Subhashini Acharya.
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