Updated: Nov 9, 2018
So your next door neighbor's son has just become a very successful software engineer, or a hotelier, or maybe even a sportsperson. Why don’t I follow in his footsteps and repeat the same success story? It's simple, I just do everything he does, and I'll be there, right?
Is this the right way to think of one’s career? And more importantly, does it work?
No, it does not. And herein lies the myth of a perfect career.
Your neighbor's son did well because of a number of things that cannot be replicated. Maybe he had certain inherent strengths which made him do well in that career, maybe he had great teachers and mentors, maybe he got certain opportunities at the right time. Most likely it was a combination of all these and more.
This does not mean you cannot have a successful and fulfilling career. What it means is that you too have inherent strengths and talents, and certain opportunities will come by in your life that will be unique to you. Your career journey MUST be designed to be a perfect fit for you. How much effort do we put in to find clothes that are the right size and fit, and are to our liking? We don't pick up the neighbor's clothes that are three sizes too big, do we?
So before you start planning your career journey, let's ensure you get rid of certain myths that may cloud your judgement. here's a breakdown of why we keep calling these commonly heard statements myths:
1) Choosing a popular stream of study results in a better career
It's probably the most common misconception - that if you choose Science and go on to become a Doctor or Engineer, you will have a long, stable and well paying career. Yes, you read that right. Misconception. It is not true. The reason for this is that the only way you succeed at these careers is if you are able to do well in them. Simply securing a job is not enough. Careers in Medicine, Engineering, and the Sciences are reputed and sought after because they require a certain set of skills and a depth of understanding that requires certain years of hard work and study, as well as certain other abilities and inherent strengths. If you choose to pursue these careers when you have no talent or interest in them, you will have to work twice as hard as the average student. And let's say you are capable of working that hard. The fact is that someone else with the right talent and a love for the work will always be able to get ahead of you, and you will probably need to struggle to keep up all through your career. The pay scale, scope of growth, and all other factors depend on your performance in your career.
Does this seem worthwhile?
Instead, what if you choose a career in which your inherent strengths and talents work with you to lift your performance, and you actually enjoy the work you do? Wouldn't you automatically out in more effort here, when your work is something that makes you happy and challenges you just the right amount for you?
2) A job is always better than a business
The rule for nearly everything in life is - the harder you work, the larger is your reward.
This applies to both a job and a business. Your scope for growth in each option is directly linked to your own effort and abilities. Your work is the most important factor in your career success.
There are of course differences between a job and a business. A job gives you a fixed amount of work, with a fixed amount of stability/ lack of risk, for a fixed salary. If you start your own business, your work will be unlimited, and so will your risk and income. And here, 'unlimited' could even be zero. The first thing to know about a business is that it does not make you your own boss, but instead a slave to everyone your business is dependent upon, at least until you are established well enough. However, the benefits that come with it can also be massive. Neither one is better than the other. Engaging yourself in a job or starting your own business is a choice you have to make, entirely on the basis of your own requirements, comfort levels and lifestyle choices.
3) Passions are not to be confused with careers and work
"Who enjoys work? Your work is just to pay the bills. If you want to have fun, go take up some hobby!"
How often have you heard this line? How far do you agree with it?
It is very true that when it comes to work, the amount of play and 'fun' is limited. But this need not be the case, and the amount of fun you'd like to involve in your career is entirely up to you, especially because each person's definition of fun is unique.
But consider this - if you were passionate about your work, would you work harder at it?
Most human being spend about 9 hours a day, 5 days a week at work, at the very least. This is nearly half of your waking hours for the week! Doesn't it seem like such a waste to spend so much time doing something you don't enjoy, out of obligation? Instead, if you work to combine your passions with things you are inherently good at, you could spend the same time working on something you actually enjoy, and fulfill those obligations as well. In our previous blog, we addressed the concept of interdisciplinary careers too. These are careers that combine various disciplines of study, like-
Biometric Systems Engineering (A cross between Mechanical Engineering and Forensic Sciences)
Digital Media (Journalism and Communication plus Software Engineering)
Exhibit Design (combination of Product Design, Graphic Design, History and Software Technology)
and many more!
So before choosing your career, think carefully about things you like,and things you will be good at, take advice and tips from other success stories (but never copy their path), and rid your mind of any bias or prejudice towards certain careers, streams, or fields.
Remember, the only thing that can make or break your career is YOU!