Know Yourself and Your Dreams

Your first job is the first step in your professional life. Your career choice should help you work towards your dreams and aspirations in life, help you achieve your fullest potential, and, in the process, provide financial success you require to live the life you want. Money alone is not the measure of success, although recent focus on material success may lead many to believe so. Former President Prof. Abdul Kalammay have been a great scientist, but, even as the President of India – the highest job in India, his salary was less than of a middle manager in a private firm. The President of India used to receive Rupees 10,000 per month as per the Constitution. This amount was increased to Rupees 50,000 in 1998. On September 11, 2008 the Government of India increased the salary of the President to Rupees 1.5 lakhs per month.

If you select a career that is in line with your interests and strengths, you are likely to enjoy what you do. And when you enjoy what you do, you are more likely to succeed. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Hence, it is important to reflect upon what your interests and strengths are, and be aware of them when you make career choices.

Interests and Strengths

Each one of us is unique and gifted with unlimited potential. But everyone is not and can not be very good at every thing. Sachin Tendulkar was the best cricketer of his time but he may not have become even an average IT professional. Likewise, Dr. Narayan Murthy may be considered to be a great IT professional but we are not sure of his cricketing abilities. Imagine if Sachin would have chosen IT as a career and Dr. Narayan Murthy that of a professional cricketer? The same can be said of Shah Rukh Khan and A R Rahman; can you imagine they swapping careers? Or SaniaMirza who has done India proud in International Tennis and Arun Roy who championed the Right to Information Act in India? Each one of us have a spark of talent and some gifts of nature and if we are aware of them, we can perhaps make better choices. Successful people thrive by knowing who they are and linking that to the work they love.

Who you are and what is your gift from nature?

It is important to build a foundation of self-knowledge and clarity of purpose. You may not get it right first time or in full but it is worthwhile to start asking those questions early on in your life and then, linking those insights to the job and career you choose. One powerful yet simple framework is to reflect upon three things;

  • What motivates you?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are you “best” at?


All actions are driven by motivations. You need to step back and ask yourself “why do I want this?” Let us take an example. Asha has just finished her graduation. She wants a job. Why? To get money.Why? So that she can take care of herself and save for higher education. Why? Because she wants to become an astronaut? Why? Because when she was young, she was much impressed by Indian American astronaut KalpanaChawla who hade gone on an ill-fated US space ship. She may not get first job in that area but the mere awareness of her motivations will help her make the right choices and move in that direction.

Just like peeling the onion, you will get a glimpse of what really motivates you. This may also change over time but the lasting themes in our motivations are formed in our early formative years and stay with us. The sheer knowledge may provide you the necessary steer in the right direction. If you do not have any clear or strong motivation, that is also okay.  You do not have to force yourself into “inventing” motivations. You have to be truthful to yourself and you don’t have to share this with people you do not trust.


What are you passionate about? These are activities that you wake up thinking about and often, also dream of. These are things that you are doing whenever you have free time. You are excited and energized when you talk about these activities. These activities are not duties or chores but something you would love to do even if you are not paid to. These things put a smile on your face, you find them easy to do and you are not afraid to try some new ways.

Passion is an intangible force that produces tangible results. There can be degrees of passion. Passion applies to an emotion that is deeply stirring or ungovernable. Fervour implies a warm and steady emotion. Ardour suggests warm and excited feelings likely to be fitful or short-lived. Enthusiasm applies to lively or eager interest in a proposal, cause or activity. Zeal implies energetic and unflagging pursuit of an aim or devotion to a cause. Beware of false passion and be willing to recognize this.

At times, this could be due to strong external influence of parents, teachers or a “role model” rather than something you internally want.

Many of our extra-curricular activities provide clues to our passion. By their very nature, these are voluntary activities you undertake because they give you joy. Reflect upon your hobbies and dig deeper into why you enjoy them. For example, Arun collects stamps. Every letter he receives, he neatly takes out the stamp and saves it and occasionally, swaps the stamps with his friends. He is passionate about it. He will check the trash from his neighboring houses to check for any new stamps. Why isArun passionate about stamp collection? Collecting stamps is a hobby for people of all ages who are interested in history, geography, art and world cultures. This shows that Arun has passion for knowledge of the world. This knowledge can help Arunin making career choices at the appropriate stage. For example, if he has an opportunity to work in the Indian Foreign Services, he is likely to enjoy what he does and probably be successful.

Natural talents

Each one of ushave natural strengths that can only be classified as “gifts of nature”. Of course, in some, these natural strengths are so pronounced and visible that at even at a young age, they and those around them know why they are born in this world and what their purpose in this life is. These child prodigies are well known. Michael Jackson started signing on stage when he was five and became a household name around the world before he was 20; and this was much before the internet and mobile phone era. At the tender age of 16 years, Sachin Tendulkar for the first time played for Indian National Cricket Team against Pakistan at Gujranwala in Pakistan.

Sachin Tendulkar. His Most Prized Valued Collection: 13 One Rupee Coins.
Tendulkar attended SharadashramVidyamandir (High School) in Mumbai, where he began his cricketing career under the guidance of his coach and mentor, RamakantAchrekar. During his school days he attended the MRF Pace Foundation to train as a fast bowler, but Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee, who took a world record 355 Test wickets, was unimpressed, suggesting that Tendulkar focus on his batting instead.When he was young, Tendulkar would practice for hours on end in the nets. If he became exhausted, Achrekar would put a one-Rupee-coin on the top of the stumps, and the bowler who dismissed Tendulkar would get the coin. If Tendulkar passed the whole session without getting dismissed, the coach would give him the coin. Tendulkar now considers the 13 coins he won then as some of his most prized possessions.While at school, he developed a reputation as a child prodigy. His season in 1988 was extraordinary, with Tendulkar scoring a century in every innings he played. He was involved in an unbroken 664-run partnership in a Lord Harris Shield inter-school game in 1988 with friend and team mate VinodKambli, who would also go on to represent India..When he was 14, Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar gave him a pair of his own ultra light pads. “It was the greatest source of encouragement for me,” he said nearly 20 years later after surpassing Gavaskar’s world record of 34 Test centuries. This was in the same year as his first-class debut. Tendulkar never played for any Under-19 teams, crossing straight into the seniors.


Armed with the self-knowledge of what motivates you, what you are passionate about, and what you are naturally “best” at, you can approach the task of finding your first job with greater clarity and sense of purpose.