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We need to realise that career milestones dawn every day but we rarely pause and reflect where our career is heading.

N.S. Rajan | Print Edition: November 16, 2006

A century ago, an employee was just a cog in the assembly line, with nothing to distinguish one from another. Today we live in a time where intellect is the new form of property, and knowledge has replaced capital as the most important lever for development. The knowledge of who we are, where we are, what we wish to do and where we wish to go is critical as it helps us map and navigate through our individual career terrains.

Thus, knowledge defines our destiny. Jacob Bronowski, in his book The Ascent of Man, highlights the wonder that unlike the other species that survive on genetic wiring, man has the unique ability to learn from environment and culture. Today man and his environment are driven by globalisation, technology and knowledge. This is changing the nature of work and the workforce. It is skills and innovation that form the cornerstone of the new economy.

Can there be a better time to invest thought into your own career? What are your expectations from your career? Have you introspected as to where you stand on your life’s journey and how well you are dealing with it? The quality of your expectations will no doubt determine the quality of your actions. An interesting thing about careers is that if you choose not to decide what you wish to do with it, you still have made a choice.

We, as professionals, need to realise that career milestones dawn every single day of our lives. As we rush each day very rarely do we pause and reflect on where our career is heading. Understanding this basic premise will open avenues of growth.

Have we given ourselves space to examine where we stand on the key dimensions of our lives? Are we successful at our workplace, are we able to get the best out of our potential, are we happy, do we enrich ourselves through our family and friends, do we plan for our financial well being and retirement too, do we devote time for pursuits that tap other facets of our personality, do we find time to serve the needy, are we in touch with our spiritual vein, do we search within and seek the unknown, have we discovered an inner calling? Deep fulfillment in ones life is intrinsically interlinked to each of these facets, and a quest in this direction unlocks the doors to making our careers rewarding.

Taking charge of your career comprises managing oneself, managing others, and understanding how to survive and thrive in the ever changing environment. Self-discovery is a vital step to define future directions. The starting block is to be able to discover the real you, mapping your life, your self esteem, your strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, competencies, motivations and how you respond to stress. What capabilities do you need to develop? Have we dwelt upon how we work with the world around us, how we connect and communicate, get things done, manage teams, motivate others, manage the environment around us and build our support systems? The ability to recognise ability is the rarest of all abilities.

Organisations today are increasingly aware that the single biggest determinant of business performance is human capital, and are investing in talent, like never before. Have you recognised the significance of your own role? This is indeed the right time to envision your career as your single biggest asset, and build this equity for a bright future. You also need to focus on what you do and what adds value to you. After all, you have only one career to manage!

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