How to not become a victim of circumstances in careers

In our short lives, we often have many good circumstances that take us forward. We feel happy and look forward to many positive things in our careers. However, when bad times hit us hard, we become devastated. We think that the circumstances are beyond us. This is just not true. Career planning is an art and it can be perfected. We should not become victims of circumstances. This article is an attempt to examine how to get this done in our lives.


When the chips are down in our career and everything looks seemingly difficult, it always becomes our duty to look up and tell to ourselves "yes I or we can do it". Since most of the learning is from my personal life and observation of several others, am making this article as a first-hand narrative. It often turns out that we create many of the circumstances or we are totally unprepared for the complexities associated with the circumstances in the first place. For instance, imagine that am in a very good job. A middle-level position in HR. A confirmed job with a good accommodation and all facilities including subsidized schooling for my children in the CBSE school run by the company. If I decide to quit this job at the age of 33, when my wife is not into a regular job and my son is just two years old, the "circumstances" in the new company would or could be positive or negative. Extremely important questions to be answered are: i) who is the boss and what is his attitudinal disposition? ii) what if am not able to measure up to all the demands of the job? III) What will be the new cost of living and am I fully prepared? There could be other questions as well. Unless am clear about all the answers, I should not venture to change my job at all.

Today, after over almost four decades of experience, am in a position to examine what went right and what went wrong, as regards one or two major decisions I took in my career. There have been serious mistakes as well. It now turns out that to avoid becoming a victim of circumstances we need to a) Never look for the ideal boss or company b) Always have security goals in mind c) Never quit a job you like d) Keep on exploring alternatives, given current realities e) Go on updating yourself with new skills and f)Always have plan B and plan C ready for security needs.

Never look for the ideal boss or company

To put it rather emphatically, there is no ideal boss or company anywhere in the world. Yes, there are quite a few companies like BHEL,ITC, the Aditya Birla group, Asian Paints and Mahindra & Mahindra, where one can grow from strength to strength and perform. You can spend entire careers here. However, please do note that these are exceptions and not the rule. The majority of organizations have their own pluses but terrible minuses as well. So, if you are caught up in any situation where your career is reaching a dead-end, take the plunge and do it. You just cannot wait endlessly to do it. Remember, given today's complexities, you can at best change four jobs before you are 32 years old. Between 33 and 45, you enter into a "consolidation" phase of your career. Never be attracted by the big names. Find out all answers to the vital questions in the introduction of this article. Since I did not address the questions properly, I was totally unprepared with the answers.

Be that as it may, remember, there is no ideal company or the boss. Remember the famous Tamil saying"Iduthuvum kadhanthu pogum" which translates into "this will also pass". Your learning on the job and whatever job enrichment you can get is as important as your salary package. If you draw a fat salary but you are a "doer" and" implementer", you can rest assured that you are getting nowhere. You have already entered into a jam in your career. Now, quickly address your concerns and find out your alternatives. Never ever go to a new project company, even it comes from L&T or the JK group for example. Always go to an established profit-taking, dividend paying company. If you get cross functional roles, grab the opportunity. For example, if you are in mechanical maintenance and are required to train, as part of your job, groups of fresh engineer trainees in a sister organization manufacturing cement,grab that job for the learning opportunities.

Always have security needs in mind

These are days when your family security matters most. You need to build a corpus of at least ten hundred thousand rupees before the age of thirty. You need to pool your wife's earnings too. Get this corpus made and never touch it. Pump the entire money into a good balanced fund with the likes of HDFC Mutual Fund, giving you a non-taxable return of around 9.3 percent. This is a must. Your decision to go in for purchasing your house should be pragmatic. These days, the EMI is so huge. Hence, settle for an independent house near your native place or even in a village.

Never quit a job you like

This is extremely important. Once your comfort zone is very good and your salary is also okay, never ever quit your job. Keep on exploring options in the same organization. For instance, if they would allow you to take a one year off and do the PGDM from the Indian School of Business, go for it. The organization will offer you a Corporate job, commensurate with your new skill-sets, once you get the diploma from the prestigious ISB. Look at various opportunities for learning and acquiring new skill sets.

Keep on exploring alternatives, given current realities

This is another imperative. Be prepared to face the axe when you are just 45 years old, even in manufacturing companies. A friend of mine invested very wisely in a place some thirty five kilometers from Coimbatore city. He built a row of shops in that place, by taking a loan from the bank. Fifteen years ago, land was very cheap at that place. Today, all the shops are occupied and the rent that my friend collects is pumped into savings. None of the shops have short-term rental arrangements. He has a subsidiary arrangement for funds. He did have trouble when his merit payments and increments did not come in 2009 and thereafter. But the rental income came in handy. This is exactly what I mean as exploring alternatives.

Go on updating yourself and with new skills

This is important too. Digital marketing is one such skill. There are housewives earning a minimum of Rs.40,000 per month from Google, through their videos on You Tube. So, this is the sort of New India. These are the new kinds of opportunities. They specialize in just menus of various dishes in literally every Indian language. The world is very wide. Our "circumstances" will also change, if we become masters at managing change. This is one important lesson in career planning in modern times.

Always have plan B and plan C for security needs

This true incident happened a few years ago. A friend of mine was posted at Mumbai. He was a career banker but his chance to become part of the core banking solutions, pan-India, came up. His son had not studied Hindi at all. Transfer with family was daunting. In came plan B, suggested and put in place by his father-in-law who belonged to Tiruchirapalli. The son was put into a very good CBSE school there. The boy completed his plus two examination and went on to do his Engineering at Coimbatore. The wife was able to join her husband who has settled down in Mumbai. He even purchased a one bedroom flat at Mira Road. Changes of this kind will come under plan B. If you do not have such relatives, entrusting the family to your closest friends will be plan C. Get prepared for it. You just do not have any choice.


Given the complexities of our modern lives and our careers, we need to be always prepared to take on new challenges in our careers. Some vital issues have been examined in a very practical manner above. It should be noted that when we are prepared with all answers to all possible questions, the task becomes that much easier and the circumstances surrounding any challenge will become that much easier to handle and emerge victorious. We Indeed need to be prepared to face all the new rules of the game. We have no choice, either.


Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao24 Jan 2020 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 7

True. Career planning is very important. When we study we will have the support of our parents and we will not have any responsibilities. But once we complete our studies and join in a job, not only we start earning but also our responsibilities will increase. We will get married, we will become a parent and it is our duty to take care of the family. So we should be very careful and we should not take hasty decisions. We should always feel that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. When we make a decision regarding our career we should keep our responsibilities in mind.

Always we feel that our job is never better. But everybody will be feeling the same only. As an individual, we should think about how we can mould ourselves in such a way that we will get adjusted to the environs and carry on. This is very important for a beginner and a middle-aged man. We may become a little free once we have some reserves and our children get settled in their lives. The thought process may be different and the necessities at that age may be different. So we can take a little courageous decision once we are above 45 years.

I liked the article well and the author has given very good tips which will be useful for the people who are in their earlier years of career.

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