The 5 essential career investments

One views career investments in many ways. Some consider learning new skills as a career investment, some get certified, and some change jobs. In this day and age where upskilling opportunities are plentiful but jobs and raises are scarce, everyone is thinking about measures that can help the next leap in their careers. I am not a big fan of certifications and paper degrees. Nothing wrong with them, seriously! Certifications are great, but when it comes to actual crisis at work, it’s a person’s instincts and natural flair that come into play more than knowledge from certification courses.

How can a person build his instincts and natural predisposition to solve higher order work problems? I believe that there is no quick fix way to build a professional personality. Personality is a sum total of an individual’s experiences. Conventional certifications and job switches may not contribute much to that. So what are those unconventional investments one should seek to make her/him ready for any crisis? The following are my top five.

Keep modifying your CV— No, the intent of one’s CV is not just finding another job. A CV is a reflection of an individual’s worth, years of hard work culminating into a document- a CV is what shows the true worth of an individual’s employability. How many times have we come across people who claim that their job is so unique that there is no other job in the world that can match their current role? Well, their problem is not unique. No two jobs in the world are the same. If you cannot explain what you do to someone in 10 seconds, then your CV is not good enough. Invest time in building the CV and keep thinking about the question that your visiting aunt might ask at the dinner table, “So what do you do?” Keep building your CV, modifying it, adding new things, deleting the unnecessary details. It is an ongoing process. Even when you’re not looking for a job.

Invest in reminding yourself of your true worth— While it is perfectly ok to throw numbers and contact lists at others, it’s pointless to justify your inflated worth to yourself. Be true to yourself, you’ll need it. Especially when you’re outside of your professional circle. Inflated egos rarely draw awe, they draw yawns. Seriously! Try and spend time every day remembering what you are truly are, and be aware of your limitations too. And I mean, every day.

Invest in your physical self— I don’t necessarily mean, build your biceps. Staying healthy is about staying physically agile and energetic. I’ve seen too many people with the excuse, “I just don’t have the time to hit the gym.” Who told you that the gym is the only path to physical salvation? Climb stairs, run from your office to your car at the parking, sit upright in your workstation, drink loads of water, and don’t be so weak so as to be unable to resist snacking temptations. Whenever you justify your inability to stay healthy, remember “YOU ARE A LIAR!!!”

Read something intellectually stimulating— I’ve heard this one several times too, “I’m already doing mental stuff all through the day, I just don’t have any more bandwidth to read something serious. I can only read tabloid crap.” Once again, “DO NOT TRY AND JUSTIFY YOUR LAZY SELF.” If you don’t have the bandwidth, build it. It’s just a first mile problem. Once you cover it, there is no stopping. Try it!

Build your zone— The zone is something beautiful, something totally random inside your head. Build a zone where you can escape to whenever you are faced with pressure and stress. The zone should be perfect. You should be the superwoman/superman in that zone and you control everything. And you could do anything, literally! Let it rather be something pleasant than violent. It builds character.

Always remember, the most important career investment that you make is the one that syncs your heart and mind.

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