A Perspective on Choice of Study and Career Path

Reproduced with permission from Quantifyyourfuture.co.za

Truth must be told!  Very few people actually followed the career path that they had envisaged for themselves at the start of their studies.

Many of us started our studies with little or no knowledge about where it may take us in terms of a career.  Some of us had a sense of what we wanted to achieve by studying a certain field.  Some of us had our choices made for us, or we didn’t make it into the study programme or institution of our choice.  A small number of us may have chosen a field of study because we were lucky enough to know what we were passionate about.  Yet a smaller number of us had the privilege of having a caring teacher see that spark in us and inspiring us to ignite that fire within.

Some of us started and finished our studies and professional training as planned, only to discover that the actual career was far from what we thought it would be like and had to reassess our career plan and course correct.

At the other end of the spectrum, some highly successful individuals will tell you that they never planned their careers, but put in many more than the 10 000 hours and took careful decisions seizing opportunities at critical moments along their career journeys, and thus their career paths were shaped!

Thanks to constant change, fast-paced innovation, continuous improvement in living standards, longevity, advanced technology, connectivity, globalisation, and such phenomena, there has been on-going change to career paths and an explosion of new possible careers in this millennium alone.  Hence, some of us have never stopped growing and developing as our careers have evolved and required continuous learning and development for anyone to remain relevant and employable.

The scariest thought and perhaps the most exciting of all is the fact that children who started school this year might eventually follow a career which doesn’t even exist right now.

You might well be asking the question:

How important is it to start studying with a clear vision of my career path?

Don’t be overly concerned and paralysed by this question.  As you grow, you will get to know yourself better and your vision about your career and life will expand accordingly; and you will have a journey that will surpass anything that you could ever have imagined at 17.  Trust this process.

When we learn, we expand our knowledge and understanding of whatever we are learning about and we are able to look at the world through different lenses because of our ever-growing knowledge base.  More importantly, when we learn we develop our repertoire of thinking skills and we can apply these thinking skills to just about anything we choose to do next.

My perspective on choice of study is simple: 

Know Yourself

Be guided by what you are naturally good at, what you enjoy doing and what you are prepared to work at.

Believe in Yourself

If you keep your thinking cap on every step of the way, i.e. making quality decisions with self-awareness and understanding, and you are willing to take every experience as a stepping-stone or a learning-block along your career path, you will be great by any measure!

Focus on the Process and not the Product

Always remember that in anything you learn more from the process than the product and at the end of it all, it is the quality of the journey that counts.

Have a picture of where you want to be, but be very flexible in terms of how you will get there.  More often than not there is more than one possible path.  Correct your course when you need to, slow down when you have to, take a detour where necessary, and truly enjoy every step of the journey.  A quality process will not just ensure a great product, but provide a rich experience. 

Expand your world

It is your world, it is your life, it is your career journey.  Do whatever research is necessary to find satisfactory answers to your questions.  Find the best starting block for you.  Kaizen:  Keep improving and expanding your world, course correct if you need to, but strive to follow the completion rule as it instills discipline and builds confidence.

The journey is the career path.  Make it count.

Blog written by Ramona Francis – Learning and Development Consultant

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