By: Vighnesh Gunasegaran (BAC Apprentice)
A career should be something that helps you develop and grow as an individual, throughout the course of your life. It should not just be about making money. There are many other factors besides making money, that can influence career choice such as work-life balance, the complexity of the job, career advancement possibilities, work culture, enjoyment, and so forth. In this article, we will be exploring how an individual’s environment can shape their career choices. Here are a few things one should consider before committing to a specific career.
Time – Short Term vs Long Term
Humans are curious and multitalented beings, by nature. This encourages us to question everything about life and our surroundings, which further drives the development of mankind. The same is true for career choices. Many individuals may choose to dabble in different types of jobs that require different skillsets, and more often than not, people have more than one career option.
Unfortunately, time is a finite resource. As some career paths require more years of education and experience than others, it is important for an individual to plan out their career based on a timeline and try to split it into short-term and long-term career goals. For example, my short-terms goals are to finish my degree and go into the legal field, but my long-term goals are to develop my acting skills and eventually pursue a career in acting. By breaking down my goals into these two categories, I have a clearer idea of how to work towards them and the timeframe that I have to do it in.
“You cannot shoot accurately if you do not have a target to shoot at.”
A common stigma in Malaysia is that everyone must aim to become a Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, or Accountant, to have an easy and bountiful life. This stigma was slowly enforced by the older generation, who put these professions on a pedestal due to the job security, stature, and high paying salaries, that these professions promise. Over the years, this has resulted in parents putting undue pressure on their children, to pursue such professions so that they can secure their future.
It is a known fact that parents only want what is best for their children. Pushing them to pursue successful career paths, is simply to ensure that their child secures a stable source of income, and is able to live comfortably in the future. Some parents even blatently disregard what their child aspires to become, as they feel they have more life experience and can therefore make sound decisions with their child’s best interest at heart. Thus, most Malaysians have been pressured into a career by their parents, and lack passion for their work. What parents don’t seem to realise is that this lack of passion can prevent career growth and sustainability.
The best approach to this ongoing dilemma is to just bite the bullet and be vocal about your career aspirations and passions, even if it might disappoint your parents. Doing this may be daunting and nerve-racking, but I asure you that it will be worth it in the end. Try to find common ground with your parents and show them how committed you are. You must be steadfast and unwavering, if you know that a certain career is your true calling, or if it ignites and fuels passion. Your parents will eventually come around and will be happy for you, when they see you excel in the path of your own making.
Responsibility & Necessity
Unfortunately, not all individuals come from well-endowed families. This essentially means that these people are unable to chase their dreams, as they do not have the financial means, or a financial safety net to fall back on, if their plan does not pan out the way that they had hoped it would.
Often, the heavy responsibility of supporting the family, looms over these individuals’ shoulders, as their parents get older and their abilities to earn an income, diminish. Due to the lack of privilege, these people are forced to aim for the the lowest hanging fruit, in order to secure an income and keep the family afloat.
In unfavourable situations like these, the best thing to do is to manage your priorities. While you may start at an unfortunate position or job, this does not mean that you will be stuck in this situation, throughout your life. There will come a time where opportunities will present themselves, or you may even decide to make a calculated risk with your career. Life is not a race, but a marathon. It takes years of work, dedication, and experience, to build an impressive career portfolio.
Rememeber, never be disheartened by your lack of privilege. Just know that it will teach you how to be resilient and how to handle yourself in times of crisis, which are skills that are highly valuable in the working world. The true road to abundance is to develop a mindset of gratitude and to make the best out of what you have. Working jobs out of sheer financial necessity, may help develop certain transferable skills that may be applicable to your dream job.
This article contains valuable lessons and personal experiences from my life. I am sure that most of you will be able to resonate with the issues discussed above, and if not, I encourage you to use your imagination. I hope my article will help some of you make informed decisions regarding your career paths. Finding an appropriate balance between your career and your personal life, is not easy, but once you have achieved that, you will be creating an environment optimal for growth and sustainability.