Monday, December 19, 2011

One job all your life or One life for all the jobs?

Tom Peters, in his much acclaimed book 'Re-imagine', makes a rather bold statement:

'Lifetime employment is over!' 

In fact, he reiterates this is as a lesson that all of us in the current digital generation must learn and practice if we intend to be successful in this disruptive age. He believes that career is now defined as a series of 'WOW' projects across several organizations. I completely agree with this and  I think this is the first and the most important lesson that each one of us should learn as students and working professionals. My career is a real life example of Tom Peter's statement. Anybody looking at my career will be shocked, to say the least. Sample this: Nine jobs in 10 years since I started working! An old economy person may immediately relegate me to a non-trust worthy status. However, when you look deep within the roles that I played in the last 10 years, you would realise that my depth of understanding of the education sector comes only due to the breadth of experience that I have had in the education sector. Each of my roles have had immense positive impact on my organizations, colleagues and students. The most satisfying part is that in each of my roles I have created a 'WOW' programme that continues to exist as an integral part of these organizations even now. For all those of you who are starting your career afresh, here are some lessons to succeed in the digital age.

The first two years of career are always a trial and error
8 out of 10 students who approach me for career guidance come with one question once they are in their first job: Is this the right job for me? Gone are the days when the first company you join happens to be the only company you have ever worked all your life. I think the first two years of your career must be solely dedicated to trial and error. You never know what you will like until you do something that you like. So, feel free to put your hands up and volunteer for anything new and different; anything that you are not comfortable with; anything that can help you learn newer things. And don't be afraid to fail. Small failures in your early career can help prevent a fatal career failure later.

Be courageous to jump ships
Choosing to do what you love doing is not devoid of challenges. Not many people are able to successfully move themselves in to doing what they love for many reasons. Lower compensation, lower esteem, more struggles and indecisiveness are some of the factors that prevent people from doing what they love. Look above these and ask yourselves: Everyday when I go back home, do I take back satisfaction or sulkiness? If you want the former, prepare to jump ships and take the plunge early on.

Procrastination is a career killer
I have come across many of my friends and colleagues whose passion lie elsewhere but are tied to a role that they despise. Many of them mention that they would like to get to a comfortable position, earn enough and then move on to working in their area of passion. Unfortunately, that never happens. As people keep moving up the career ladder and compensations continue to rise, the wants and needs also increase. The comfortable position one dreams of never arrives for most people and hence their passion  becomes only a wishful thinking, never materialising in reality. Such procrastination is a passion killer and more importantly a career killer! If you have identified your area of passion, do not delay the jump. Take the plunge now!

Adhere to a strict work life balance
This is one rule that I have diligently stuck to all my life and that hasn't affected my success. There is much more you can accomplish by spending just about 8 hours at work. Get into this routine from day 1 of your career. During the 8 hours, focus only on the job at hand and nothing else. Setting this routine ensures that your team mates and bosses are aware of your availability and work gets scheduled accordingly. Eliminate all time wasters at work and focus on deadlines in hand. Your bosses don't expect you to live in the office - they are more worried about the work getting done within a given deadline. So, do exactly that and go home! Spend time with family and friends and return refreshed the next day. Push the face-booking and google -plussing to evenings, not in the office. When you are at work, WORK and when you are at home, BE AT HOME!

All of us have got one life and let's focus on making the best use of it. Forget about doing one job all your life and signing off with relief; focus on doing all the things that you are passionate about and sign off with pride! The new year is round the corner. Take a resolution now:

"This year I will do one new thing that I am passionate about; that I have always dreamt of doing." 

It isn't a tough resolution, is it? Stick to this resolution every year. Ten years down the line, you would have done much more than you had ever imagined.

It is one life and its your life; what are you going to make of it?

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