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“Take time out for yourself to learn a new skill every couple of years, no matter what. It keeps you mentally active, refreshed, and energized”
Flashback to 2008 – I was at my organization’s long service awards dinner, wondering how much longer I would be in the organization. I was a recipient of one of the five-year awards and thinking to myself, like any other millennial (if I may call myself that), I might stay here for another year or two. Who would have thought that thirteen years later – yes you are reading this correctly – eighteen years in total, I’d be in the same place. Same place, but a very different person, and who knows who I’ll be in another decade.
This is the story of my unconventional corporate journey. Hearing the usual – ‘you’re part of the furniture now’, ‘you’re a safe pair of hands’, ‘you’re in your comfort zone’, ‘do you plan to retire from here’, is something I am quite used to. I have to admit that this banter used to shake me up every now and then, but not anymore. Yes, I have found myself not mentioning tenure while introducing myself. But not anymore. Have I been in a comfort zone? Most certainly not. And that’s the question to ask yourself – are you learning enough, are you doing enough to future-proof your career, are you challenged enough, are you working with people you can learn from and be inspired by, are you adding value to the organization? And if the answer to each of these questions a roaring ‘Yes’, it doesn’t matter what others say.
“One can never score a goal in one’s life without getting a pass from someone else”
Today, there are almost five generations in the workforce. I am challenged everyday by people who are younger, more digitally savvy, curious, and carefree. But I look to learn from them, to add to the skills in my repertoire rather than feel threatened. Today, there’s enough said and more about learning, upskilling, flexibility, and agility. Take time out for yourself to learn a new skill every couple of years, no matter what. It keeps you mentally active, refreshed, and energized. Recently pursuing my coaching accreditation has added multi-dimensional value, both personally and professionally. It has not been easy to do this intense course while juggling work, family, and the pandemic fatigue. But it has been invigorating and makes me think about what I would want to learn next year.
The journey has not been without its ups and downs. Persevering through the path has helped me. I haven’t taken a break, and there were moments when I felt things would fall apart, particularly when my children were very young. When I look back at those moments, it makes me realize that one can never score a goal in one’s life without getting a pass from someone else. A mentor once told me to call out for help if you need something, no matter how outrageous that help is. At the most, you may be refused. But at least you would have asked. This for me has been an important life lesson. And help has sometimes come from unexpected corners, so when you ask the universe – please be prepared to receive it.
In this journey, I have had supporters, nurturers, and sponsors. It helps to have someone who has your back. This comes with deep connects and relationships that last longer than the transactional need that the relationship serves. And this requires investment of time to build. However, you may also come across people who will shake you out of your comfort zone, be tough and brutal. Remember, feedback is a gift, see what you can take from it objectively and work towards becoming ‘a better you’. We all need people in our lives who show us the mirror from time to time.
“Remember, feedback is a gift, see what you can take from it objectively and work towards becoming ‘a better you’”
Below the iceberg of a successful life are the aspects people don’t see – persistence, failure, sacrifice, disappointments, dedication, hard work, and most importantly good habits! Of all these, Self-Care is more important today than it ever has been. You simply cannot pour from an empty cup. Habits like saving and then spending, eating healthy, being active, continuing to learn, taking breaks, learning to say no, are just some that contribute to your overall wellbeing. Remember, you’ve got one home and that is your mind and body – so take care of it!
- The article was originally published in Career Ahead January 2022 issue.
Diya is Director – Talent with a multinational financial services organization and is based in New Delhi, India. She has over 18 years of HR experience in business partnering, learning and talent development. She is passionate about leadership and management development, life-long learning, and keeping inclusion and diversity at the heart of all development. She is a certified organizational coach, continually working towards her goal of further developing her coaching skills in the next couple of years.