Career Spotlight


Courtesy: Bala Rajendran
Courtesy: Bala Rajendran

Choosing the Right Career

Choosing the right career has always been a challenging one. Sometimes based on our preferences, we choose a career and later find that the chosen one is not the right one. The first few months in the career may be interesting but it turns out to be fairly monotonous later. Why can we not enjoy our chosen career throughout our lifetime? The answer is, there is a huge difference between what we thought the career would be and what the career actually is.

Most of us know what our strengths and weaknesses are. Despite that, when it comes to mapping these strengths and weaknesses to the careers that we want, we fail. Can careers be chosen ‘by following our heart’ or ‘by following our passion’?

Heidi Grant Halvorson, a social psychologist and E. Tory Higgins, professor of psychology and director of Motivation Science Center at Columbia University in their HBR article say that ‘merely following passion’ or ‘doing what you love’ are abstract terms that do not help us directly to choose the right career.

They give us a more strategic approach based on our motivational focus. Based on their personality attribute that predicts performance, people can be grouped into

  • Promotion Focused People
  • Prevention Focused People

Promotion Focused People

In this type, people look for advancing their career constantly. They look into careers that provide a path where they can climb the ladder quickly. They take risks and play to win. They can be compared to the players who get to play offense in the soccer field. They take chances and are optimists. They generally do not have a Plan B if things go wrong. That is the risk that they are taking. Generally people in this category should look for careers in fast paced industries like social media, technology, and service-oriented industries. They should look for fields where they see advancement.

Prevention Focused People

In this type people look for stability in a job and job security. They are detailed planners and take decisions considering all possible outcomes. They always have a Plan B and if it fails, they have a Plan C as well. These are the type of people who play defense in the soccer field. They have excellent analytical and problem-solving skills. They play not to lose and are often risk-averse. They give attention to detail.  Generally people in this category look for jobs that are more ‘conventional and realistic’ like project managers, bookkeepers, data analysts and plant managers in manufacturing sectors.

Based on our motivation type, we can start looking for jobs where we would enjoy our jobs for a longtime. After all, most of the time that we spend in a day is at the office. When we choose the right career, we will enjoy the job that we do and we would lead a happy life.


Note: Career Spotlight is a regular column that speaks about career trends, different types of career and the experience of people in those careers. Look for this column every week for further career-related stories and career tips.

Next week article: A look into offbeat careers.

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