On a hot sunny afternoon, sipping green tea and exploring ideas for personal growth makes me think about the obsession of millennials with social media.
As I go through the swamp of ‘getting married’ posts, along with the ‘spent too much on a vacation, I can’t afford now’ posts, I watch and reflect upon the fact that more and more people in my social media circles are boasting about their success in jobs and journeys.
Suddenly, this makes me wonder about the fate of those in their 30s, who are still clueless about their careers, or are waiting for the inevitable stroke of good luck to revive and push their careers forward. How are they surviving the grasp of the soul-sucking tentacles of the ever-so-competitive world?
Penning down my thoughts on this matter reminds me of the several instances in my career when I struggled beyond belief to understand myself better and make choices that would benefit me in the long run. The results – endless days of ‘crying myself’ to work, painful conversations with superficial mentors (until the right mentor came along), clinging on to character critiques in the hope that they would help me develop as an individual (an unusual trait for the overconfident boisterous people my age) and trying every possible ‘unlock your potential’ hack – only to ultimately surrender myself to this viscous cycle again.
But wait – all hell didn’t break loose yet!
The truth is that all these endeavours helped me delve into who I was and what I was looking at. I have always considered myself to be a highly-driven, ambitious and extremely self-motivated, as an individual. Yet, the entrepreneurial journey made me look in the mirror and ask a century-old question (with a twist): “Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the farthest of them all?”
That is when I came across the one strategy that truly helped me overcome my constant ‘career agony’ and pushed me to move forward – at a time when I was more hopeless than a kid lost in Disneyland.
The secret, age-old remedy of success that has made countries win battles, corporations like Apple turn around to become global conglomerates and an ordinary man like Tony Robbins to become one of the greatest business coaches in the world, is the art of mastering your key strength.
Heard that all the time, right? But the frustration comes when you are unaware of your key strengths or have been unable to master them. That is when your world seems bleak and the way forward looks messy – in fact, very messy. You might be comfortable with this until the clock starts ticking and forces you to take a decisive action.
So, if you are stuck on the threshold, when you are supposed to take some pivotal decisions, what are the small but crucial baby-steps you can take to catapult yourself to the league of the social media superstars whom you come across on your feed?
Well, here are a few hacks that saved me from the gloomy spiral:
Work on identifying the simple basic skills that you are extremely good at, which you enjoy doing, no matter what. They may seem silly or stupid – but do list them down.
The key lies in realising and identifying what we do daily. These skills are what will help you in developing your career game-plan. If this area still seems unclear to you, try out some ‘occupational personality assessments’, which are intrinsic and can reveal some perspectives for you to easily identify your one key skill.
A young entrepreneur or an employee in a company may well feel that networking is for losers. This is absolutely wrong. Networking is one of the key reasons why a lot of people make it to your social media feed.
Why, you ask? Relevant contacts can help stretch your ‘knowledge bandwidth’ and add more depth to your value proposition. More than anything else, networking can promote you in a way you yourself can’t.
Moreover, networking is not just limited to glitzy startup events or company off-sites. It is a part of your daily routine – the people you interact with everyday, interspersed with the influencers whose network you can leverage. You can do this by sharing your knowledge, learning, or by asking for a favour that could be exciting to them.
In my journey as a career consultant, I have met a lot of people who did not always plan their journeys ahead. Yet, across the manifold disciplines and pathways, the need to experiment and be okay with it is inherent.
You could start as an engineer and end up being a restaurant owner. You may even start-off as an academician and then become a designer. At any period of time, you should always pursue the thing that makes you happy. The key here is to define what makes you happy.
It is important to know that our needs and wants change all the time. However, along the way, if we fall out of love with what we do, then it is better to quickly change the path than go through a nasty ‘divorce’.
Sometimes, we tend to evade or ignore the ‘purpose-driven mentality’ needed to carry on. However, you should only follow it only till the time it helps you come back on track and wakes you up to the reality.
It is imperative to evaluate our goals periodically, and check our progress – especially when we feel that the difference between the two is minimal. One may feel distraught with this constant ‘report-card’ approach. Yet, it can help you move in a direction in which you want to go.
If you are unable to reach your planned destination, then maybe that path was never meant for you. In such a case, you would do well to trust the signs and move on. I know that it’s easier said than done – but if you need to change the dirty diaper, you should do it!
Of course, the strategies mentioned above are not full-proof and will require a holistic approach in order to succeed. However, if they are applied repeatedly, they may help you build a strategy of your own – the one which may help you to build a career that makes you really happy, about which you can boast.
Until then, while you stare at those not-so-encouraging social media posts, feel free to click ‘delete’ to ‘add’ happiness to your mind!
A version of this article first appeared here.
The author is the founder of The Happy Career Project. She is a career coach and a master trainer with the Association for Talent Development, USA. She helps individuals craft successful career strategies, thereby enabling them to build happy careers. She can be found here.
Image used for representative purposes only.