What’s more hopeful than sharing your experience – the ups and downs – so that others may see that there is not always a clear-cut path to success? The journey is often more round about than one might imagine. You would not believe that many who have found their niche, found it later in life. I did not always know what my career was going to be. I was not one of those children who, when you ask them, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' had a hard and fast answer. In fact, I had an answer, but it was shot out of the window!! Guess what I wanted to be? I wanted to be a flight attendant. My father would not have it!
There were a couple things that I did know though… I knew I was very good at languages, I was disciplined, had lots of support and positive reinforcement and I was involved in many activities, creating a balance outside of academics.
Having fantastic teachers in school was a blessing. My language teachers, Ms. Edwards, Ms. Lee Pow and Ms. Bartholomew come to mind. My business teacher, Ms. Nicholas, also encouraged me to take on an extra subject – economics – and for that I am also very grateful. In addition, having a family that exposed me to different cultures and experiences from very early played a very important role in my development.
I also had discipline…lots of it. How did this develop? My parents ensured that I was involved in tonnes of curricular activities from very young, so having experiences outside of the academic world helped to create a balance that was key to my holistic development – ballet and modern dance, playing hockey (learning about teamwork), playing the piano (this took loads of discipline for a child who wanted to do gymnastics instead), tennis, all of which helped in developing the discipline to practice. Attending ballet and piano classes and completing exams at various stages of these activities was consistent, even when I wanted to give up. Having the undying support of my parents naturally played a huge part in believing that I would succeed and this was probably the most important part – positive reinforcement was key.
During my secondary school years, yes, I felt uninterested at times and know I did not always live up to my full potential in many areas, but fortunately, by the time Form 5 rolled around, I was focussed enough to hit it out of the park and progress to Advanced Levels (A levels or pre-university).
Ask me during A levels what my career would be, and I’d say I still didn’t know. I originally wanted to study business at university, but guess what, I was not admitted to the business programme. I was admitted to the language programme. At first there was disappointment, but this turned out to be one of the biggest blessings. Even during my university years, I could not say with certainty what my career would be. I just kept doing the things I was good at and continuing to apply discipline, knowing that I was on a path to completing my undergraduate and eventually my Master's degree.
I say all of this to give hope to students and even to those later on in their careers. Secondary and tertiary students especially should not worry too much about not knowing their exact destination. For those later on in their career development, choose one thing to focus on, do it well, and then take the next step. As they say, ‘Rome was not built in a day’. Even if your current job is not your dream job, it is allowing you to get one step closer to your dream. Work experience is a critical part of development, even if that job is not in your ideal field, because you learn key skills in the workplace which can be applied in other scenarios.
In this internet age, there are many opportunities for learning, even for changing directions and creating your own path and these opportunities are available to those willing to put in the time, make sacrifices and use resources that are available – self-help books and videos, coaches, online classes, student and business loans, webinars – free and paid – and so on. I really believe that one’s age and stage in life should not be a deterrent. The time will pass anyway. Why not create the life you want?
Continuing to define your path and adding new skills is a lifelong journey. As long as we are alive, we can make a new choice that will put us in a better position one year from now. What is one step you can take today that will move you closer to your destination? If you do not know your exact destination, what one step can you take towards achieving success in one area of your life?
#hope #careerpath #lifechoices #languages #positivereinforcement #lifelonglearning