Article, Career Advice

How To Take Charge of Your Career

March 10, 2021

If not for Covid, what would 2020 be for you?

There is a saying, “the only constant is change” and 2020 has seen a rapid change of behavior, which tested both resilience and grit. 

The journey of self-discovery went on acceleration mode, especially for myself. Through the crisis, I picked up the skills of cooking and running. Though enjoyable, the journey took a lot of adjustments before it became my new routine.

I have written some of my reflections which may aid in your career management or even job search strategy in this difficult time:

Believe and invest in yourself. According to Gallup, all of us have hidden talents. When you invest in the development of those talents, strength is produced.

Talent + Investment = Strength

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. It is important that you find optimism within yourself and move forward. Find something that you have always wanted to do and spend an hour or two each week to do it. It may not be perfect, but that is the beauty of imperfection; opportunities arise to perfect it. 

If you always wanted to switch careers but did not know how, try to practice the skills needed for the career and test it out with your family or friends. If you always wanted to get a new job but never had the time to come up with a perfect resume, start writing one and send it out to test the response. Edit it along the way. I never believe in a perfect resume, it’s always a work in progress.

Start small, think big. When I first put on my running shoes, I went into hyper mode. I had a goal in mind; 10km at least or nothing. On my first run, I hit 3km and stopped. I felt demoralized, demotivated and thought of quitting and going back to my accustomed gym routine. This way of thinking is common as our experiences lead us to do something we are familiar with. Perhaps this is similar to your resume crafting process. After seeing many different templates and hearing various pieces of advice, you created something that was always identical to what you originally had. Alternatively, when you were told a new way to do things, you were skeptical and began doubting the process even though you have not given it a try. Perhaps, you simply didn’t try long enough to see potential results. Try updating your resume by working on 1 – 2 paragraphs each day rather than editing the full resume all at once.

Sustainability kills you if your goals are not sustainable. Just like my earlier example of running, I relooked into my strategy and made changes. I definitely would like to cover 10km (my goal) but by when? That’s the question you have to ask yourself and identify: a sustainable and achievable goal. I started by hitting 2.4km, increasing it to 4km, 5km, 6km…and after 30 days, I was slowly hitting 10km effortlessly. An unattainable goal may turn your dreams off. If you want to become a chef, you might want to be like Gordon Ramsey but not within 30 days. How can you achieve that within a sustainable timeline? What do you need to achieve that level? Make a checklist on how you can reach a certain goal.

Consistently make time for yourself to practice your craft and improve. What you are doing today is for the better tomorrow. When I started hitting my goal of reaching 10km, I consistently made time to keep that fitness level. Every week, I strived to complete a run that is of a minimum distance of 10km. I keep track of my progress and thankfully through wearable technology, tracking became a breeze. Find time to update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your latest achievements. What about writing an article on LinkedIn, reading or commenting on a social media post? Make a conscious effort to be consistent and allow yourself to be heard. This is where personal branding comes into the picture and you are investing in yourself.

Reward yourself. Everyone likes to be rewarded. You are your best motivator! Find time to pat yourself on the back. I often give myself incentive whenever I complete a long run, which is to run to my favourite food stall and reward myself with a hearty breakfast. It can be your favourite cake for a rare indulgence. Why not? I say this as a way of loving ourselves and may give you an additional boost of motivation.

Make each process enjoyable and never be negative in the beginning. “I hate”, “I do not think”, “I am afraid”, “This is too difficult”: Do these sound familiar? Such self-thoughts are always the barrier to change. Making an effort to be more self-conscious in finding joy in things that we perceive that we do not like makes it easier to persevere through the process of change. Before you view negatives, change your perspective of things: say something positive and view the effects of your changed mindset. I did not enjoy jogging at first because of the noisy surroundings on my run. However, I put on my earbuds, started listening to podcasts, and found new inspiration while jogging and listening to the programs. I started to find new routes to run and took pictures along the way. It didn’t matter how fast I was running but how far I could stretch myself by completing each goal I set for myself.

Make a plan and have a routine. I wake up at almost the same time 7 days a week and I have the same breakfast almost every day. This little routine of mine gives me time to “space out”. I love the pressure less time of not thinking about anything before I start planning my aims of the day. At the end of the day, I make some plans on what I aim to accomplish the next day and so on…my day repeats the same way each day. There would be moments when you feel demotivated, just go with the flow and give yourself a day off as long as you know you have put in the effort. After all, all plans need to be sustainable before you see them as achievable. 

The principle of change is not rocket science. But, if we incorporate this into how we manage our own career, we can perhaps live happier. A shift in paradigm got me thinking that I have to take charge of my own change. This principle I have adopted gave me new skills, perspective and a way to do things differently. It took me a lot of self-discovery and motivation to see the results I desired, but the journey was worth the hard work. Think about how you want to take charge of your career, and make your changes today! 

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