Thinking long term for a brighter future

Thinking long term for a brighter future

Working with the end in sight can work wonders for one’s career. Ali Khwaja stresses on the importance of proper planning and self-introspection for true success.

Ramesh is frustrated because he couldn’t clear JEE and get into his dream institution: IIT. Savitha, who always wanted to be a doctor, did manage to get admission in a private medical college, but her dreams were thrashed when her parents couldn’t afford the fees. Kumar is lucky – he hates science and took up commerce in a credible college. On the other hand, Kalpesh took up PCMB (physics, chemistry, maths, biology) to keep all his options open and now he is thoroughly confused between engineering, medicine and architecture.

Thousands of students like these land up at the doorsteps of college admissions without any proper research and then grope in the dark trying to see which target their arrow can hit. When they surmount one obstacle, they relax till they reach the next decision-making stage and then get into confusion all over again.

Let us take a simple analogy. When you want to go somewhere, you do not start thinking about the mode of transport initially. You first analyse where exactly you have to go (your goal), what is the distance, time required, cost, obstacles on the way, etc. Only when your goal is certain, you decide the means to commute.

In the same way, all your degrees and diplomas are the vehicles that take you to your goal. But they cannot serve the purpose if you have not set clear goals – in fact, they can even take you away from your most suitable path and then it becomes even more difficult to work your way back. If you are not clear on what career you would be working in for the next 30-40 years, there is no point in exploring which college or course you would be studying in for the next 3-4 years.

The famous author Steven Covey wrote in his bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People that the first of the seven habits is to be pro-active i.e., have the
initiative and motivation to take steps and move forward even before the need arises. He went on to describe the second habit ‘Begin with the End in Mind.’ This
principle is perfect while planning for one’s career.

If you agree with these principles and are willing to set your long-term goals in advance, then you can consider the following factors. Firstly, setting career goals should not be based on:

- which career has the most ‘scope’
- what your friends are taking up.
- easy admission procedures.
-advice by people who do not have first-hand knowledge of the subject.

Start early

The right way to select long-term career is to start early, when the student is in 9th or beginning of 10th standard. To start with, you can list down simple facts such as:

-subjects you are good in and enjoy personally.

-type of lifestyle you prefer and are suited for
- personality traits and how they match to the career
-genuine interest in working for many years in the field
- aptitude – the potential to develop required skills that will make you successful in that career.

Start gathering as much information as you can get, not only from internet but from senior students and people who are already working in that field. If you cannot narrow down to one specific career, make clusters of careers that can be attained by similar courses. For instance, if you are interested in engineering, management, civil services, you can keep all three options open by initially taking up an engineering and then deciding whether to study management or prepare for civil services exam after graduation.

Once a specific a career (or a cluster of careers) has been narrowed down, don’t change your mind only because you couldn’t get admission in the best college or course. In three decades of career guidance counselling,

I have seen innumerable students giving up on engineering solely because they couldn’t get into IIT, giving up on law because they could not get into National Law School, giving up management because they could not get into IIM, or giving up military services because they couldn’t make it through the NDA exam.

There are innumerable second and third options in every field. If you are clear that you have made the right career choice based on a combination of interest and aptitude then explore all possible paths to get into it. Military service, if not through NDA, can be achieved by CDSE, University Entry Scheme, Short Service Entry exams, Technical entry exams and so on. If you cannot get into MBBS, you can become a homeopath or ayurvedic doctor, you can get into paramedical sciences or hospital administration or nutrition and dietetics.

On the other hand, I have also come across innumerable young people who started at the lowest level in a field of their choice and because they had both passion and aptitude, rose up to great heights.  Boys who have started as airmen went on to becoming wing commanders and group captains, youngsters who started
working as accounts assistants qualified as chartered accountants, bright
youngsters who started as bank clerks went on to become CEOs.

Most successful people have set their long-term goals and have continuously modified their short-term paths to adapt to circumstances, challenges and limitations, always keeping the end in sight. A classic example is the illustrious Dr Abdul Kalam who aspired to become an air force pilot but couldn’t get selected. He went on to study aeronautical engineering, moved into space research and eventually at the age of 70 years, flew in a fighter jet as the President of India, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Today, when students want to take up a course like aeronautical engineering and
question the scope of the field, I tell them, “You can become the president of India.”

The crucial factors that determine success are to have clear goals based on realistic self-introspection, combination of interest, aptitude and personality traits, determination to not let go of their primary goals because there is better ‘scope’ elsewhere and constant exploration and growth. If you are at the crossroads of selecting, or even changing your career, start with the end in mind and work your way towards

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