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How often do you hear someone say they want to be the “Head of XXX” or “VP of XXX” when you ask them where they see themselves in 10 or 15 years?

Most people think of their career as an end destination, an end date, a certain title and that isn’t a bad thing. Having an ultimate goal might be the thing that keeps you going when some days are tougher than the others.

Your career, however, should not just be about the end goal. It is vital that you truly understand that your career is not a race. It is a progression.

Most of us start out with an idea of how our careers should progress over the course of years. We look at the path our mentors take, the path most taken, the path that your profession will naturally take you. That’s not wrong because it makes the most sense. Your career is your own personalised journey to your “ultimate destination”. There are many factors at play here and your definition of success will also define your ultimate destination.

It is key to remember that no one else but you are in-charge of your own journey, and you can mould and adapt to what life throws at you, career wise.

A few pointers to ponder and reflect:

  1. On the way to getting to the position you’ve always dreamt about, you will quickly realise that there are many different ways to get there. Be open to the different paths that can lead you to that one destination. Be open to alternative ways. It will open more doors.
  2. The different doors that open can be triggered by the bonds you make with people in the process. Build those relationships across organizations and industries and the more you love the industry, the easier this is.
  3. Cut the bullshit – it stretches you to think critically, cut out the noise and make decisions in spontaneous situations. It gives you the mental courage to be free from being part of a majority voice while at the same time, being winning at articulating your opinions.
  4. Your career can be your biggest adventure of your life. To make it worth your while, take risks, be open to ideas, take on new responsibilities, make decisions based on experience and research and most of all, make mistakes and learn from it.
  5. We believe your career should bring you joy. Even if the work itself is not inspiring sometimes, it is the outcome of your efforts that make a positive difference to the people around you.
  6. Regardless of the end goal, the journey filled with memorable people, experiences, failures, successes, trials, and tribulations. At every turn, stretch yourself and let that learning curve work in your favour as much as possible. Set checkpoints to evaluate your progress, reflect and make a material step forward each time after that.

Sometimes, you would want to think about whether you’re aiming to go up the organisational ladder or be a domain expert. If you choose the former, you will be chasing the many management milestones – ultimately being accountable for the nitty gritty of the company, the company’s undertakings, the careers of the people reporting to you and to be able to represent and lead the company.

If you choose the latter, you seek to be an expert in your area of expertise, a master at knowing the ins and outs of your field, and to be the go-to in your division. For some people, once they master an area, they move on to other areas to learn the depths and this can further extend to having hybrid roles for people who thrive on the versatility of having multiple skill sets to solve complex, cross disciplinary problems. In our day to day work, we feel this skill will be critical in the work place in the very near future.

Every journey is unique with many possibilities in and even outside the landscape of your current profession and industry. There isn’t just one stroke of the brush that can describe every possible career journey and we hope that your journey is as fulfilled as you want it to be.

Written by Josephine Chia and Yasmeen Banu