Definition of a good career – does it even exist?

Posted On June 30,2019

Statistics say that an average person spends 90,000 hours at work, over a lifetime. Now, that is a lot of hours. You would have put in late nighters, sacrificed time with family and friends and had little or no downtime to introspect where you’re heading. The question I have for you is “Was it worth it?” This is one of the most important topics, that is often overlooked or not spoken about. Ask yourself “What am I doing and why am I doing it?” If you have a clear answer in your head, you have found your true calling – not many people do though.

What is the definition of a good career and how do you know if you have and/or had one? I sometimes ponder on my way to work, there are so many people walking towards these high rises in the city, most of them already on phones (works calls and emails), do they know what they want from their careers? Or is it just a job? I don’t have an answer to this question and I have not found my true calling……yet! Here is my view.

Let’s be honest, not all of us can be Steve Jobs or Jack Ma. They are exceptions, apart from being super extremely smart, they had the courage to follow their dreams and were okay to fail, but not to give up! For a majority of us, the appetite to take risks reduces as we get engulfed in the intricacies of managing relationships, raising kids and bringing food to the table. A career then turns into a job and a job into a chore. And one day you retire - scary right? But it is a fact! 

Building a career is like building your dream home, in most cases it is not the first one (you change a few jobs). You might rent first (your first job), then buy your first house/apartment (your first job switch). By now, you have an idea of the kind of house you want, the suburb you want to live in and you start thinking about your next house (middle management phase of your career). Finally you decide to build something from scratch; you have a vision in your head – the architecture, the interiors – the works. You put all of this onto a piece of paper and build something where you want to spend the rest of your life (your transition from middle management to a specialist and/ or leadership roles).

How did you move from renting, to building your dream home? It’s simple – you learnt from your experience. You knew what you wanted and more importantly what you did not like. And this comes with experience. The journey of having a successful career is the same. Have the end in mind and work towards it. That said, you need to know what you want! The skills you need to acquire, to build your toolkit. Money should not be the driver here. It will follow if you enjoy what you’re doing because it becomes your passion and you ultimately excel at it. There will be times, when you have to put your career in a cruise control mode, priorities change in life. It is normal to do so but have that end in mind. Do not be fixated on a title or an organisation. Be fixated on the legacy that you want to leave behind, when you retire. 

Here is my approach:

1. I look at my career in blocks of six months. I break my goals into categories such as projects or clients I want to work with, size of teams I want to lead, an industry that I want to explore and my personal development for e.g. certifications etc.
2. I then rate them on a scale of 5 and my priorities for the next six months are sorted. 

Like everything else in life, you never know what’s around the corner. At times you need to take a step back or sideways to move a few steps ahead. 

Write to me at if you need guidance with your career planning. 

Author: Ritu Raj Das, Co-Founder @ Skill Prodigy

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