The focus of ‘Career Planning’ is generally on job opportunities, respective education, degree & certifications or any professional courses. So, it mainly talks about how to get yourself busy in a specific job, considering current or future market demand, so that you earn well and meet your needs. Also, Career Planning is considered as one time activity either when we have to choose a course of specific education or after completion of graduation/degree. However, in the process of Career Planning, we do not consider most important factor – ‘Life’. You cannot separate your life from your career. If you are working in an esteem organization at a senior position and earning good salary, can you say that you are enjoying life? Is it the goal and right path of your life? Career must be aligned with Life to keep balance between professional and personal life at each stage of the age. It is not just one time task!
Let’s touch base on what are the usual challenges we face at different stages of the age and probably how we can plan and handle them in a better way.
Age: O – 20
This is initial part of life. As a kid, it’s time to discover the world around and just enjoy it. Then, it’s time to choose the right course of education from whole lot of options. It’s difficult decision, especially choosing the degree that you want to get. In most of the cases, we choose the option that our friends have selected! But you need to be very careful here as this decision decides how you are going to spend rest of your life. College degree is the starting point and base of the career.
The major decision making factor behind choosing a specific college degree is the Job Market. Which field will give me a job with good salary decides which degree I should opt for. However, in spite of selecting Electronics or Civil or even B.Sc. or B.Com, you end up becoming THE developer in a software company! Why? Because IT is the only industry (probably) where there are multiple jobs available and even multiple options available across the organizations throughout the cities. Not to forget, but IT job has its own pros and cons. Initially, we just look at the pros and then realize cons only after few years when doctor says you got spondylitis!
Whenever I discuss with somebody about choosing ‘Computer vs. Electronics vs. IT vs. B.Sc…’ I simply start with ‘follow your own interest’. If you convert your interest or hobby into your career, you will never work; you will live your life! If you like to sing, check how you can become a singer, if you like to make cartoons, enter into the world of animations, if you are passionate about photography, then become a professional photographer. Just imagine you are a good dancer (the born dancer!) but you are sitting in the office for 12 hours a day in front of a computer developing a web site for some pharma company. Would you like to spend 40 years of life doing this job? The answer will decide your career option. Career cannot be separated from Life. So, we need to ensure that when we plan for career, we are not ignoring life. Otherwise, you will spend more than 40 years as a machine which just generates money for your family.
Age: 21 – 30
Once you finalize the career, it’s time to do best what you can in that field. Be open to learn everything that is required for you from anybody around you. Of course, web is the ‘live storage’ of knowledge. This is the age when you can dare to take challenges, explore and exploit each opportunity that you see. You need to prove to yourself that you can do it.
Earning money will always be there in agenda. So, keep watch on right opportunity and option. Let me take an example of Software industry itself. If you are a technical expert (Software Engineer) with 4 to 5 years of hands on experience, look out for on-site opportunities across the globe. Don’t limit yourself to a specific city or your home town. Look for an option where you can earn maximum possible while you pursue your favourite career.
Do not sit into a comfort zone. If your current job is not fulfilling your requirements, dare to change the job and look out for better option. Put efforts on getting skills and certifications required for your growth. At this age, you are allowed to take financial risk, because usually, no one depends on you (not even yourself!). Remember, in this age group, you get maximum freedom and minimum responsibilities towards your family. You should take optimum advantage of it.
Use all the time for learning, technical expertise, experience across the locations and of course monitory benefits. However, ensure you are not ignoring your health. Keep habit of healthy food and regular exercise. Keep your health and mind in control!
Age: 31 – 40
By the time you cross age 30, you will be at a good desired position in one of the esteem organizations. If you are in IT industry, may be now you are working at client location out of your home country and earning in foreign currency for couple of years. As soon as you enter into this age group, you and your family start thinking about your marriage! There are few questions that you should answer while taking decision about your marriage and life partner:
If you are male:
1. Will you prefer your wife to continue her job? How long?
2. Is your wife willing to leave her current job after marriage and take up more challenging role of home maker?
If you are Female:
1. Do you want to continue with your current job after marriage? How long?
2. If your husband asks you to leave the job (especially after pregnancy) and take the role of home maker, will you be able to accept it?
Common questions for both of you:
1. Especially for IT employees, If both of you continue your job and one of you have to travel and stay at some other city or other country, will you be able to manage it? How long?
2. If both of you will be in other country for your job, when will you return to your home country?
3. After how many years you want to have a baby? How are you going to take care of your kids if both of you want to continue with your respective job?
Even though these are common and simple questions, you must have ‘real’ answers with you. Here, the word ‘real’ means ‘true, practical and agreed by both of you and your families’. The answers have considerable impact on your life together. So, if you give real answers and follow those answers then you will be able to manage the situations better in near future.
On the other hand, you have to keep pace in your career as well. Even though you are quite settled in your career and organization, it is not going to be comfortable to manage changes in your personal/family life while keeping focus on your career.
Remember, marriage is just the beginning of change! Now onwards, you will have to perform more than one role. The new roles would be ‘Husband / wife’, ‘Father / Mother’, ‘Brother-in-law / Sister-in-law’ etc. I have discussed about this in details in my blog ‘Do you have a balanced life?’.
At the age of 35+, you may start thinking about a twist in the career! Yes, it happens!! If you are working in an IT company, you will plan for starting your own software development unit or a BPO unit. If you are in Education and Training, you will start dreaming of owning an Education & Training Academy. If this is the case, start working on a strong plan now. Define small, intermediate milestones and clear steps to achieve those milestones. Also, think about back-up plans. This is a separate topic and we will discuss in details some time later.
Time to enjoy fruits of all your hard work! Now you are in complete control of your career and you are the driver of your path. As we discussed before, you are now your own boss! At this stage, there will be minimal uncertainties in your career. Now, you should focus on expansion & growth. As you have good amount of experience in your field, you can take calculated risks and also take more challenges. You are in the role of a ‘Mentor’ for others who want to pursue career in same field as you. So, guide and support them by sharing your experiences and achievements!
Our discussion today is the tip of the iceberg. However, if we keep ‘Life’ at the centre point of career, then entire career will be delightful!
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