Article: Be at the Centre of Your Career Universe

Learning & Development

Be at the Centre of Your Career Universe

A career in default mode is likely to land you in a satellite position. Are you at the heart of the script in your career success?
Be at the Centre of Your Career Universe

The most important relationship that one has in life is with one’s own self. The time and regard we give in understanding ourselves is directly proportional to how much clarity with which we pursue our life goals. Here’s a rough guide to articulating a broad career charter 

Define a live, life goal 

Defining a life goal is probably the best starting point before one starts thinking about career goals. Life goals indirectly or directly influence a number of our decisions. Having conscious life goals not only adds meaning to our lives, but also helps us navigate through ambiguity.  What construes as life goal can be as simple as “To learn things for life”, “To be trustworthy” but consciously thinking about it and defining the same for yourself can be a very powerful tool. 

Understand one’s career anchors 

As multiple careers will become a reality, individuals as well as organizations will have to figure out a way to accommodate such choices. It thus becomes important to understand ones career anchors well to chart out a planned career path. An individual’s career anchor is ‘‘an evolving self-concept of what one is good at, what one’s needs and motives are, and what values govern one’s work-related choices” (Schein). Identifying ones career anchor may not always be the deciding factor while making career decisions, however they are the single most important factor that determines career satisfaction. 


Career decisions initially tend to be based on basic needs like money, designation, location etc. if they are not met in the current employment. Once they are met, individuals begin exploring opportunities which are based on their career anchors. Career anchors are postulated to remain stable over time but this is typical of traditional careers.

If I go by the traditional career model, my hypothesis is that they also tend to traverse a maturity scale. Individuals are typically drawn towards achievement (satisfaction of intellectual needs) in their chosen anchors and once they reach a critical stage of self-actualization, individuals may choose to adopt another career anchor (explains the move by many successful professionals into completely different careers once they reach the pinnacle in their chosen fields). 

However in today’s world traditional career paths are in minority and protean careers on a rise, which combined with other factors induces changes in career anchors over time. Having said that I believe identifying career anchors brings in conscious thinking, clarity and increased job satisfaction. 

Decide your career span & pace 

The other important question that an individual driving towards an intentional career must answer is the career span and pace. Deciding on these crucial questions is extremely important, because they initiate a process of reconciliation with life stage and its demands. The answers to career span and pace also governs one’s career decisions. For example- if I know I would like to retire by 40, my pace of accomplishments and milestones will be very different than say someone who wants to work till 65. If I know that full-time motherhood is an experience that I will want to focus on for some time; my career pace may not be at the same pace with someone who foregoes this. What makes for a fulfilling career is a bit of reflection and acceptance.

Define your personal success and contribution

Given that protean careers are a reality, deriving satisfaction out of one’s career becomes more probable if there is clarity around how one judges career success and achievement. Not for external validation of success but more so for internal acknowledgment of having achieved what one set out to do in their career. Having something more than just money, position or power as a determinant of success increases your chances of being happy with your progress much more. Mind you I am not saying that they are not important, but they are not the only factors which indicate a successful career. Defining your own metric of success puts you in the driver’s seat, helping create clear and meaningful career goals!

Reference: Career Anchors And Job / Role Planning: The links between Career Pathing & Career development, Edgar H. Schein, 1990; Examining How Generation Y’s Career Anchors Influence their Compensation Preference, University of Guelph

This is the Chapter 3 of the 7 part series on Career Management by Subhashini Acharya.

Read the previous Chapters:

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Topics: Learning & Development, #Career

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