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De-code your true calling

EVER lived a life that has been planned to the very last detail? If you are guilty of the act, then you must be one of those people who prefer to live in the future. You probably know what you want to do, or want every step of the way. But naturally, the same must go for your career plan too. For those of us, who are used to very little planning in life, and take every moment as it comes, life will appear much like a jigsaw puzzle, full of surprises. And a career can sometimes be the biggest surprise of them all, and can continue to be if you don't plan it well. Pleasant surprises are welcome, but what do you do with the unpleasant ones?

When it comes to a career, it's simply the best and uncomplicated to have it all in the made-to-order format! That way, it'll last us a lifetime. And since it is rare that we'd even prefer a career that we don't like, we should design and pursue a career that we won't like to retire from! You may have it as you like it, a career'ful' of jobs or a job that becomes an accidentally likable career.

First, take the baby steps...

Before you jumpstart your career, begin where you normally must begin - by exploring. Only when you take the risk of `doing' things do you discover what your capabilities are. Don't shy away from opportunities, or you'll be shooing them away. Utilise all your spare time or devote time to just exploring new avenues and options. Volunteer, take up part time work, learn a new skill, or use an existing skill in a different way.

Developing it into a career...

A career can blossom at any point of time, either at one's prime or when one is about to retire or has even retired. Take retirement for instance. There is one particular advertisement that stays in mind, which talks about retiring from work, not life. Some real life instances more than just imitate `reel' life. There is no reason why you can't be a part of the package.

Mini, a stay-at-home mother of two, had always evinced an abiding interest in Ikebana. She learnt the art when her children were quite young and indulged in it. With time, she experimented with and took classes informally. When her children flew the coop and began to build lives of their own, she used her skill and knowledge of Ikebana to turn professional. She now successfully runs classes, holds shows and conducts seminars. Any skill can develop into a full-fledged career if it is given a chance to blossom. It's never too late for anything. Explore all possibilities and find out what you're good at and begin pursuing your interest with interest.

Stories like this aren't uncommon. A week into his retirement from an active tenure of heading a large public sector undertaking, Preetesh Sahu was happy jetting across the country lecturing and consulting, and earning a packet. It was a lucky thing that he'd just got the offer within a week of his retirement, soon enough to preempt him from peeling the paint off the walls of his home! This offer set a new trend, which fuelled his interest in the field of consulting. He discovered that he enjoyed consulting, and soon it became a career interest.

Chetan, on the other hand, knew he was cut out for a career as an artist, but wanted to `look' around and see what the employment scene was like. So he spent some time `bumming' about in various jobs ranging from experimenting with human resources development to advertising. A year or more later, he arrived at the conclusion that he was best suited for a career in graphic design, much in tune with his original plan. Chetan had a plan in place and eventually went along in an undisturbed pattern of growth and progress.

For many of us however, the journey may not be as smooth. We'll encounter bumps and roadblocks along the way. And instances where we'd have been proved wrong in our choice of `careers.' Our choices may all have proved to result in long stopgap arrangements along the way. And we might just end up discovering the `light' only at the end of the tunnel, just when we're about to retire.

So how does one ultimately have a real top-of the order career plan in place, one that is foolproof, and very productive? Self-awareness is always a good point of beginning. When you `know' yourself well enough, making conscious and satisfactory choices become easy. So make a beginning now, create a basket of choices, put in everything that you think should go in. Include your skills, interests, hobbies, and career and life hopes. Don't forget to include your range of experience.

Then make another `basket case' of careers. Find out, club and collate information about careers that you like and are useful to you. Now, pick and choose your favourite bytes of data, and discard the ones that don't at all motivate you. Now make a list of skills, aptitudes and attitudes needed for every career profile.

Envisage where you will be in the next few years, say the next 4 or 10 years. Test the waters before you make a decision or plunge into anything. Weigh the pros and cons, practically explore various career options by working part-time, volunteering, or through workshops. Keep your mind open; for as someone once said; the mind is like a parachute, it works only when it is open!

Next, an accurate and honest self-assessment always helps. It helps you identify what your innate capabilities are. Welcome inputs from close family and friends because they might just trigger ideas that may prove to be innovative and helpful. Personal, and informational interviews will help you narrow down and improvise your search. Check out job sites, and stay updated on industry information.

Don't rule out career resource centres. If you fancy `accurate' data study, try personality tests to check out what your personality profile is like and make an appropriate choice.

Lot of people spend years and years in a job that doesn't give them any satisfaction or opportunity for growth, new learning or skill enhancement. Finding the right job that suits one's lifestyle, and one's abilities does require some risk taking.

Write that book now, or start building that aeroplane that you wish to see soaring the blue skies.


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