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To plan a career, assess yourself

Knowing your own strengths and passions is, however, a time-consuming journey
Career planning is a lifelong process - gone are the days when people just pursued one career for the rest of their life

Shivani Manchanda   |     |   Published 06.07.20, 09:04 PM

I am in college studying economics but I am still at a loss as to my future career path. I feel confused. I hear advice such as follow your passion or work with your strengths and I get even more confused. I don’t know what I want to study after economics. I know I can do an MBA but how do I know what I am good at and what is my aptitude?

I can see that you are feeling confused and frustrated. Knowing your own strengths and passions is, however, a time-consuming journey. If, for instance, you wanted to know what clothes or colours suit you best, I imagine you would spend a lot of time trying out new clothes to see what looks good on you. Similarly, if you want a perfect selfie you will need to take several before you know the angle and light that shows off your features in the best way. Career planning is a bit like that — it requires time, patience and exploring different options before gradually making up your mind about what might work for you. Also career planning is a lifelong process - gone are the days when people just pursued one career for the rest of their life. Today, someone might work as a scientist and also write novels over the weekend or work for 10 years as a chartered accountant and then become an animal trainer for the next ten years. In an attempt to know yourself better, here are some questions you can ask yourself. Don't be surprised if you keep seeing your answers change over the years.

  • What kinds of things do I like to do?
  • What are some things that motivate me when I am feeling down or in need of inspiration?
  • What are the things I am good at both academically and socially?
  • What is important to me (think beyond making money and owning material things)?
  • What would I like to be remembered for?
  • How do I manage failure?
  • Do I like to work in groups or as an individual?
  • Do I like to work with numbers or information or people?

These kinds of probing questions are what gradually lead us to a more fulfilled life. Materially there are many ways to be successful. What is important is that while you are working, your everyday job should give you an opportunity to do some things you like to do or the company should work in an area that motivates you. Spend a few minutes every day getting to know yourself and documenting special moments such that you eventually have an idea about what works for you. 

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