Posted On 24th Nov, 2016
"What do you want to be when you grow up?", a question asked when we're kids, and between the dreamy answers and rainbow fantasies, we start shaping the first image of our career.
This fantasy of dreamy jobs and adulthood being wonderful came crashing down when I became a university student. I started realizing that being an adult is not as great as they told me it would be, I started feeling the weight and pressure of "figuring things out".
More importantly, I developed a fear of the two words "What if". I started picturing my future-self-judging the career choices I am making right here and now.
I struggled for quite some time with the concept of my career. I just couldn't imagine myself in a routine job that I 'sort of liked'. I didn't want to be just "okay" with my job, I wanted to be happy with it. So I decided to build my career based on certain principles that influenced every decision I have made till today:
1- My career is for me, not for anyone else
Every one of us probably experienced the pressure of picking a job that those around us thought was the "right" one. I mean, all my siblings are dentists (and married to dentists). Besides the obvious perk of free dental healthcare, I had no other reason to become one except to complete the set of something.
I realized that when I'm older, no one else would regret my decisions. It was just me, and that convinced me more than ever that my career is for me. What I do, how much I make, and how I go about with my job is all for me, and up to me to decide.
2- Trying and failing in public is better than not trying at all
So many people I know are paralyzed by the fear of failing, the fear of being judged for failing at something. This fear cripples a lot of us from going after the things we want.
I've always had a line in my head that gave me faith in failure, you know, the "Life is like a heartbeat, its full of ups and downs". As cheesy as that sounds, it encourages the fact that we should embrace failure. We should fight it when it's approaching, and welcome it when it hits us. The less you're scared of failing, the more you'll try doing things you care about
3- Embrace your weirdness
One of my major rules about finding a job I love, is that I shouldn't have to feel pressured to be someone I'm not. I want a place that allows me to be the strange human being that I am.
I want to work at a company where if I suggest this crazy campaign or idea it would be embraced and assessed and taken seriously rather than shut down. The world's population is almost 7 billion, and for you to shape a career in this jungle of jobs out there, you should find a place that matches your values, a place that embraces you and sees strength in your uniqueness.
4- Find your "Purpose"
Writing that bullet point made me cringe a little because of how many times I've received that advice or read about it, but here's why I'm mentioning it:
Purpose is your contribution to the world, it's your fingerprint in a world that changes so fast. The question that comes to every single person in their 20s is "what is my purpose?" The question by itself is enough to give anyone an existential crisis.
The only way to get remotely close to answering that question is through trying. The more I tried doing things in life, the more I realized what I did and didn't care about. I volunteered in organizations, tried charity work, worked with abused pets, and travelled as much as I could. All this was me forcing myself to figure out what issues I care the most about in the world.
5- The final goal is happiness (Cue the cheerful music)
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about "Passion in careers". There are a lot of people out there trying to convince us that the only way to be happy at your job is to "be your own boss".
Not only is this wrong, it's a bit dangerous. In the end of the day, the decision of what makes you happy comes down to you and your personal goals. Self awareness is the most important aspect of job hunting, figure out what would provide you career satisfaction, and go after that.
It does not matter what you do, and it does not matter what people think of what you do. The final goal is simple, it is for you to look back at your career choices when you're old and gray with a sense of accomplishment.