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5 Simple Steps for Finding your Career Direction & Focus

Earlier, on one of my blog posts a good colleague shared with me what he felt about the information that industry experts are sharing online. He Said,

“I would like to take this opportunity to communicate one thing. We see a tons of articles, blog posts etc. on self improvement, and hard word, success etc. But only a fraction of them talks about the need to know your passion, your niche, your area of expertise and then design your career according to that. There is an unimaginably huge gap in this domain. Most of the people makes career choices based on their circumstances and the opportunities they get in hand and only a few of them design their own careers based on their own self awareness and personal goals.

I would love to hear your comments on this and would also more than happy to contribute where ever I can.”

I believe as a society, we tend to want to share our trail of thought and advice with everyone and anyone. We also want others to take our advice very seriously and when they don’t, we tell them they are intolerant and have no desire to learn or include others perspective in their lives. We are also quick to decide what others may want to do in their lives and also convince them that whatever we advice is exactly what they should do in their lives. This urge to control everything and anything in others lives instead of focusing on our own leads to more confusion and chaos and therefore brings us to the sad state our societies have transformed into. Intolerance, explosive, impulsive, judgmental, manipulative, dictatorship and most of all, lack of introspection and self-evaluation.

We as a generation and our generation before that have raised intolerant children who are quick to throw tantrums, bodyshame, ridicule others while maintaining a completely different set of values and priorities in life.

How is all of this related to finding your niche and your passion?

Its actually fairly simple.

We do not know ourselves. We do not know how to know ourselves. And because we feel that we don’t need to know ourselves, we are what we are, we don’t need improvement or suggestions or that we know better. We seldom change if not never.

Knowing thyself – is a cardinal rule that everything starts with. Success, Love, Peace – everything comes only after you find yourself. It takes a lifetime for some people to find themselves, what about those Sufis and mystics who spent a lifetime finding themselves and their peace. And so, understanding that it’s a difficult process that one should start early on in life is extremely important.

If we from an early age, let our children indulge in art, music, sports, curriculum, books, reading, writing, travel etc. the more subjects he/she has exposure to, the more likelihood for him/her to choose an innovative line of career. He/she will make a better and more confident decision because with time, he/she will know what he enjoys, what he/she is good at.

The lack of exposure or limited exposure only means he/she has lesser options to decide his/her future on, more chances that frustration and anxiety will grow within him/her as a child who cannot perhaps excel at the options provided to him/her. Such children develop confused, shy, introvert personalities where there is a lack of creativity & confidence.

So, if you are an individual already graduating, recently graduated, will be graduating in the next year – then its time to rediscover yourself before you align your career goals. If you are someone who is still in school or college about to go to university – you have still time to re-discover yourself. If you’re a middle aged experience resource whose already spend a few years or several years in a career that doesn’t make you happy; its time to re-discover yourself.

With the advent of social media, online freelancing hubs and living in the age of Millennials who want to jumpstart their own startups – it is never too late for your to do anything. If you are a hard worker, you have the passion to succeed – no matter what your age is, you can re-think, re-evaluate, re-plan and replace your current life with the one you always wanted.

But before you do that – the most important thing to do and the first lesson I want to impart in this series of finding what you want to do, how to design your career according to your aspirations and passion is to find yourself. Without this, there’s never going to be complete happiness and/or peace in your life.

Being stuck in a rut day after day, doing something you don’t enjoy when life is already a tough nut to crack is going to be disastrous. So think. Is this what I enjoy? Do I feel lethargic going to work? Do I have Monday blues or Monday Motivation? If the answer is not optimistic, its time to Know yourself.

The Second Step in line to finding what you want to do, how to design your career according to your aspirations and passion is to find “What Are The Areas You Are Great At”. 

A lot of times, you may enjoy doing something but might not be great at it. There are two ways of defining the skills and specialization areas where you are professionally great.

Born with Talent!

There are definitely skills and talent that each one of us is great at naturally – almost like we were born with the right DNA to perform those tasks. These areas might not be things you enjoy but you are great at them nonetheless because it’s in your genes.

Skills You Have Improved with time

Then there are Skills, which you have developed over time during your academics, your internships or your personal life challenges. Either you have improved at these unconsciously or through deliberate effort.

The Third Step is After evaluating the things that make you happy, it is only logical that you also highlight the areas that you are good at and see if there’s common ground. If there are items or specialization areas that you enjoy and are good at – it makes it easier for you to then plan a career around those items.

However, incase there are no clear common grounds identified then we should always prioritize the areas we are good at as the basis of our career and then slowly find ways to incorporate things that we enjoy into our lives either through a hobby or a part time profession.

For instance, I know of a great Marketing Professional (Madiha Majeed) from the Media Channel Industry who had been working there for over 10+ years – she was great at her job, but she was never happy. Now she’s a full time Photographer (Her Brand Identity is Moments by Madiha) and she’s largely self-taught. In a short span of time not only did she create her own niche, line up successful projects and business but also she’s mentally and emotionally at ease. She was always great as a Media Management person and She’s now working on various commercial projects as a Producer apart from a Photographer. She says this has been the best decision she could have ever made.

Step Four is to research the areas you have highlighted as common ground for yourself. Professions or Career paths you can take that are baaed on the skills and interested you have identified as your common ground. Again, if you did not find common ground – try and work with the areas you are good at to find professional fields that are well suited for you.

You should be able to find knowledge leaders who are already leading these fields of interest and then research more about them. You have to understand their growth pattern, their personal and professional development, their skills – all through the information available on the Internet OR you could always write to them and request information. A lot of knowledge leaders are now willing to interact with young talent and give sold career advice. Professionals on LinkedIn are always within easy reach and should be a good place to start for you when you want Mentorship from a Knowledge Leader.

You could also read the various autobiographies and self-improvement books knowledge leaders have published for instance, Jack Welch or Sheryl Sandberg.

Step Five which is the last step in planning your career is Focus. Focusing on what information you have been able to drive out of this exercise, focus on not giving up, focus on making things happen for you and focus on acquiring as much information as you humanly can on your related career of interest.

For students who are going to select universities and degrees – they should focus on what degrees to earn to achieve the field of their choice or what universities around the country or the world are offering those courses. What are the requirements to applying to these programs? How are you going to meet these requirements?

Similarly, For graduates who are going to graduate – What companies should I be applying at? How do they recruit? When do they run their trainee programs? What are they looking for? What extra curricular activities should I engage in to help enhance my resume for future employers etc.

For experienced professionals, questions to ask are: What organizations are going to offer me areas of growth and learning that are my focus. What organizations can afford my financial and my personal development? Do I have to work in a 9-5 career to achieve my goals? Should I branch out and become an entrepreneur? Do I have means to sponsoring my own business idea? Etc.

I hope Mushawar Consulting’s Career Coaching Series provided some quick but useful insights for our audience.

For a quick Recap of our Career Coaching Series, on finding your career niche and then developing your focus we have discussed the following:

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