Q & A: How To Set Your Career Objectives

Life Coach Jaya Narayan answers readers’ questions and offers practical advice to handle the problems of working women. This month she talks about setting your career objectives.

Life Coach Jaya Narayan answers readers’ questions and offers practical advice to handle the problems of working women. This month she talks about setting clear career objectives.

By Jaya Narayan

I’m an M.Sc Biotech 2005 pass out with 80%. I had always been academically strong and topped my boards and masters. I had always wanted to pursue PhD and still that feeling lingers but now 8 years later I have lost complete touch of my subject. Just after my M.Sc, as I was appearing for exams, I got some serious stiff neck problems and was bedridden for a few months and wasn’t able to read/study. Still I could clear GRE and got calls from foreign universities but couldn’t go due to circumstances. Later, I joined Pune University as JRF/TA but Bio Informatics was different than Biotech and I couldn’t find it to my liking and quit.

I’m married, have been abroad, utilized my time learning new languages and travel writing. I always thought of taking up teaching by the time I turn 30, completing PhD by then. I have got an offer from a preschool and would be joining that. I see 3 fields of interest in Biotech: PhD/Lectureship, teaching and writing. I have decided on appearing for CSIR NET but I’m zero on my basics and don’t know how and when and if I would be able to clear the exams and move on my biotech dream. My husband and family are very supportive for whatever I do. I do freelance writing and enjoy photography as a hobby. I have decided on taking up the preschool teaching offer. Go on for Montessori training then B.Ed. and make a career of teaching? Meanwhile I’m trying to study but find myself with a lack of concentration and time management skills. PhD/Lectureship in my subject always tempts me. Just that I’m not able to focus on one thing!” – Anonymous.

Dear Anonymous,

I hear “loud and clear” your passion for Biotech. There is a strong unmet desire to complete your Ph.D. Life seems to have thrown at you many challenges which you have taken gracefully in your stride. Interest in learning new languages, travel writing and photography are indeed life-long assets.

Before zeroing in on any decision, do take some time off in reviewing your career objective from scratch. To explore it fully and holistically, here is an outline I suggest:

1. Write down critical incidents from your past (academic or life) where the “best” in you was exhibited. Achievements where you were self-directed and took initiative or learnt something new could be included. These incidents will validate your passion. Once you write these incidents down, look for commonalities. You could get another person (family or friend) to review these incidents and add new perspectives. The outcome of this process will indicate your core strengths, personality traits and areas of interest.

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2. List down all the professions or jobs (based on exploration in step 1) that closely align to your strengths or areas of interest. Be creative and get as many options as possible in this exploration.

3. Shortlist three (fields/ areas) out of this list that maps to your profile, life context and personality.

4. A better understanding (future, current reality, skills, and challenges) in these fields can be sought by connecting with fellow professionals or seniors. A good idea would be to list down a set of questions that you want to ask each of them.

5. Based on this process, zero in on what you would like to do and by when.

All this, while listening to your intuition. Remember only you know what will work best for you. Once you have decided, make a plan of where you want to go, how and by when. A dream concretized based on your inner passion and a clearly articulated plan has a high probability of success. Issues of time management, lack of focus and skill gap can be easily addressed. I would strongly urge you to spend time on self-reflection and not make any more sub optimal career choices. I wish for your career dreams to come true. Go for it. You are lucky since you have your family backing you up.

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*Photo credit: M Car (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)


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