2 Approaches to Career Planning

Success means different things to different people.  What does it mean to you?

Ramesh wanted to be successful like his cousins and other relatives.  He constantly saw them exhibiting latest gadgets, travel a lot, party, etc.  He believed once he gets enough money he will also be able to have that kind of lifestyle.

On completing 12th Std, most of his friends took up engineering, as they found better prospects. Strongly influenced by his friends he also took up the course and came out with flying colours.

While in his final year, in a career counselling session he attended, the counsellor mentioned that pursuing a management degree after engineering will give added advantage in pursuit of well-paid jobs and higher growth prospects. He found the suggestion interesting… that was something different. He completed a post-graduate program in management from a reputed management institute.

As anticipated he was among the few sought after graduates by the visiting companies during campus placement.  He was extremely happy for making the right moves at the right time.  With a starting salary package of whopping Rs. 25 lakhs per annum he considered himself well settled in life.

Ramesh is going to celebrate his 5th anniversary in the company next week.  He did not switch jobs.  He gave his 100% in the company and achieved all the financial goals he had for the 5th year of career.  But Ramesh isn’t excited about the progress.  He feels a sense of vacuüm.

This is not something uncommon today.  Despite achieving heights in career and financial goals many are left dis-satisfied.  Not to mention the status of those who have not been able to reach their goals.

Like Ramesh, many people chose their career based on the influence of the environment, peers, parents and relatives, giving limited attention to what they actually want to do in their life.  They are hardly aware of what they are good at, what are their strengths and their weaknesses, what do they really value in life.

As it is nicely put in the movie, 3 Idiots, Lata Mangeshkar wouldn’t have been successful in cricket or Sachin Tendulkar would have been a failure had his father insisted him to be a musician or engineer. Each one has a unique strength and a value they would like to stand by at all costs. Hence, there are two possible approaches towards career planning.

Vision or Goal based approach

  1. In this approach one identifies what one values the most – money, relationship, name and fame or any other value? What one aspires to be five or ten years down the line?
  2. Then identify current strengths and weaknesses vis-à-vis what one aspires to be. This may be nowhere near to the qualities or strengths required to become what one aspires for…
  3. However, it is not a doomed situation. One can always start from where they are and work towards building the strengths required to achieve their coveted goal.

Strength or Bottom-up approach

  1. In this approach one would first identify their current strengths and weaknesses; likes and dislikes; and inclinations.
  2. Then look out for career options that gel with the above.
  3. Build on the strengths and work on weaknesses to achieve greater heights in the chosen career path.
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