Q&A: Finding My True Career Strengths

Q&A for working women in India: Life Coach Jaya Narayan answers questions from women on finding one's true strengths to develop a career path.

In this edition of the Q&A for working women in India, Life Coach Jaya Narayan answers two questions from women on finding one’s true strengths to develop a career path. 

 1. I’m a mother of two babies. I’m a housewife at present. Earlier I was working as HR Manager. I’m in a dilemma that what work will suit me – I have few hours to work and most importantly, I don’t know my interests or area of expertise. I can’t decide what business should I start… what could I do? – Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

I think the real question behind your question is “What do I really like to do”?

What will suit me, how will I manage a career with two kids, etc. will sort out as soon as you set a direction for yourself!

Firstly, review your motherhood journey. What has been your learning landscape during this period? Write all the skills you have learnt “in this role”. Be it planning, time management, multi-tasking or managing within limited resources etc. This process will make your feel confident as you approach your career after a break.

Coming back to you question: To break a traditional mould we need to think out of box and without any constraints.

Here is a creative visualization process I suggest you try out.

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Find yourself a comfortable time / space

Listen to some soothing music.

Set the tone for a reflective questioning.

Once you feel completely relaxed

Ask yourself,

If you could do anything for 8 hours a day for the rest of your life, and money was no object, what would you do?

Draw the images that come to you as a response to this trigger. Just be spontaneous and go with the flow. An image says a lot more than words ever do. Once you complete the visual – write about it. Don’t restrict yourself – write whatever you can make out of the image. Spend some time looking at the image from all directions (upside down also). Think about the use of colours in the image. What do these colours signify?

I promise you – this activity done meaningfully will give you a clue to what passion lies unexplored.  You may conclude that life giving energy for you is to remain with your kids for the next few years. Whatever comes up – honour it.

If other creative ideas come up – something you always wanted to do – for example start a hobby class or teach in a school, explore that idea further. Review your current skill set and set up a plan to take that dream to a reality. Set a realistic time line keeping in mind all your present priorities

Share with us what you found out about yourself.

2. Where to begin with? And, yes, this is my problem. I am 27 years old and have never worked in any office setup and also, I don’t have liking for such jobs. Whatever decisions I took till now for my career were all taken under pressure. I did Bachelors of Computer Application, but I found this is not something which I wanted to do. After my BCA, with my mother, we started a play school where I work with her. Here again play school was my mother’s wish and not mine. After working there for four years, I now realize that my life is all gone. I am totally exhausted and want to pursue something of my choice like mass communication or a designing course, but I thought that I am too late for it. Please suggest some way out, I am like totally stuck in this problem. – Anonymous

“I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.” – George Burns

It appears to me that you have done what has been asked of you. Some times when we don’t listen to our own inner voice, we end up with boredom, exhaustion and monotony. It takes away our self-confidence in our own ability and interests. You are only 27 and you have a long career ahead of you. Try and look at the positives of what you learnt in running the play school. It can be something you can begin with.

In your question now, I hear a feeble voice that wants to dream for yourself. My primary request to you is, “keep that voice strong & consistent”. No one can be too old to study further, be it formal or informal acquisition of knowledge. Learning day to day keeps us alive and alert.

I don’t have enough information to validate if the choice you have made of mass communication or a design course is based on your own interest or something that sounds fancy or because your friend is pursuing it.

I suggest spending time on truly discovering your strengths. Building on that via education can be a strategy that can never fail.

Here is what I suggest you do:

Spend a few days by yourself. Talk to people who know you well.

Create a story book of your strengths. The book should have different ways of representing what you are good at. Draw, Collage, Write or stick pictures. Document everything you do well and like doing. It could be cooking, writing, programming, travelling, listening to music etc. Give it a title. Once the exploration of strengths is complete, you will be sure about the next step. Enjoy the process. It will enliven you.  It may reinforce that you are ready to take the next step and may not need a degree for now!

I will wait to hear about what you found out.

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