Nov 14, 2006

Work and Identity

Jeff posted some days ago a very insightful post on how work is becoming tied up with identity when basic needs are satiated.

We are noticing a similar trend in India with a certain class of society having the freedom to not chase what pays, but rather what is fulfilling for them.

I think it's a great bargain.

The big issue however is that people do not know either what they enjoy doing or what their innate talents are. Some people discover that by a painful process of elimination. A lucky few stumble upon it due to the throw of dice by lady luck.

Which is why career coaches who understand a person's strengths and motivation are so important. Unfortunately it cannot be fulfilled by career counselors who are agony aunts and uncles and advise people through the education and career supplements of newspapers. Their focus is always on "what is current", "where are the openings" , and that should be one of the input a person considers.

In the absence of true career coaches, a person has to take that role upon himself/herself and reflect on questions like:

1. What kind of work do I really like doing?
2. How do I react to structured/unstructured work?
3. How do I react to autonomy vs supervision?
4. Do I like working with others or alone?
5. Do I like creating something new or doing something repetitively?
6. What kind of work has always given me a positive feeling?

What other questions would you ask yourself to know your strengths better?