Chart Your Own Path: You Got This!

About the Author: Amrita Tripathi is a former journalist, published author and the Founder of Tap In!

I’ve never been a big fan of five year plans – I feel like we don’t give enough credit to entropy, chaos or black swan events. But even more than that, the bounds of what we can imagine for ourselves are based on our known knowns, and there’s so much we don’t know. Surely that’s a starting point though. 

There’s a lot to be said for acknowledging the chaos, or economic downturns, not to mention following tips on de-risking one’s career, for example, learning new skills, if possible – when we have the luxury of time, resources and of course bandwidth –  and those are worthwhile goals at every stage of one’s career. (I’d love to know how many of you feel that the onus is on you to “upskill” every so often, and how you decide which skills to focus on.)

In my case, I find that in a corporate career, I needed to unlearn and re-learn a lot – I had very little sense of leadership styles, for example, or the importance of building allies, or even how to think about the ‘strength of weak ties’ theory, let alone verbal and non-verbal cues we constantly communicate through. Luckily I was in environments where there was quite a focus on – and resources for – L&D. In that sense, apart from the actual professional work load, this last decade has been critical in this stage of my own growth.

And growth is what’s critical – if you don’t grow, you stagnate, and who wants that? Despite not doing the five year plans, I’ve been thinking a lot about intentionality, having agency, and what achievements really matter. How do you prove yourself in different industries? And what does it really mean to be a high-achiever? Truth is, it’s different in different industries. It meant something very different in the media industry when I was on the editorial side, it meant something else when I was consulting and working in development, and certainly there were different nuances when I started working in social, and then in big tech (It’s funny how at Twitter India, I never thought of us as particularly big tech, but… there we are!)

Making big career changes and transitioning industries certainly ensured that I stayed on my toes and learned quickly, and there has been some very rewarding growth. But increasingly, post-pandemic, I feel like I’ve felt the need for more intentionality. I think it’s important to take a pause, take a beat…and think about how far I’ve come… and I’d love to invite you to do the same. 

Some things to think about:

  • Has your career had a linear trajectory? (Mine certainly hasn’t.)
  • Have you learned different skills? (I’ll say!)
  • Have you met and interacted with different stakeholders at every step?
  • Have you passed the mic when you could or paid it forward when you could?  
  • And have you found that no matter what happened, or the number of times you had obstacles in your way, you kept going? 

Well, there may be no certificate for that, but all of that is worth reflecting on and even celebrating, isn’t it? Give yourself a pat on the back for surviving, and thriving when you have been able to. 

It’s worth thinking of your journey so far, even as you plot what’s coming up next, and how you want to get there. As I said, I’ve never been a big one for 5 year plans, but I do believe in doing, building, creating. 

What’s an ‘aha!’ Moment you’ve had in your career, for example? Here’s one of mine – it took me years to realise that I was – in fact – a published writer, an author, for heaven’s sake! And a journalist, which used to be my childhood dream. Is there a medal in there? Not at all, but worth celebrating all the same. 

And finally: I believe in agency, curiosity as a strong motivator and having a sense of drive that’s not eclipsed by your sense of self (or vice versa) – everything has its own flow, and we usually can do with some humility and reflection.

Views Expressed are personal.

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