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Do we 'design' our careers?

Do we 'design' our careers?

Most of us would agree that we had no golly gee clue at the beginning of our careers that we’d end up doing what we are doing now, that it was more by accident than by design.

But then, we chose to be a functional or an industry specialist. We chose to work in this company rather than some other, we live in the city we do. What are these?

You’d probably say, we just made career choices and I think it is right. A choice is a selection between Option A or B; we have a choice to work in this city or the other, and we chose one.

So what is Career Design then?

It seems to me that when we take frequent conscious actions along our career journey, which result in outcomes like, being more creative at work, having better interpersonal relationships, having more time for work-life balance, faster growth, or attracting the next big challenging opportunity, we are designing our careers.

Stephan Sagmeister, is a celebrated Graphic designer whose work for Music labels got him a lot of fame. Once in every seven years, he shuts down his studio for an year to pursue things he makes a list of. He says, aside from the psychological benefit of being refreshed, his business benefits too from new ideas that take shape in the sabbatical year.

Watch Stephan talk about the power of taking time off.

To me, this is one good example of career design. Another one, that adopted beginning from my time at Google, is to periodically check people’s perception of me vis-ȧ-vis my own.

Why, because our careers are determined by the people we work with.

This habit helped me double-down on what works between people and me, and know where else I can make an improvement. When I finished 2 quarters at HCL TalentCare it seemed like a good time to do that exercise again. 

I sought to get perspectives of those who I work closely with (my team), people I interact often (from other teams), and those that only observe me from a distance (those that I only interact socially at work). 

The results were interesting. I will discuss them in another post.

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