Why We Should Customizing Our Career Path and Embracing Change

There’s an elusive idea that “climbing up the corporate ladder” is a sign of career advancement. The notion of starting as an Associate and later work your way up to the Manager level seems to be the default of career progression or career path.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, we all know the issue very well. The traditional career path has vanished. Well, at least it’s not that clear anymore now.
If you want and aim for different things than others, you don’t have to follow the crowd.
Fortune magazine editor, Pattie Sellers, once said, “careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder”. It implies that the concept of career ladders is quite limiting. It creates a hierarchy where people can move only up and down. While jungle gym offers more rooms for exploration. On a ladder, you only get one way to get to the top. But, to get to the top of the jungle gym you can start in a lot of ways. I find this is an interesting concept that defines career life these days.
Here’s why a jungle gym type has several unique advantages over the ladder-type:

Flexibility in Starting and Switching Careers

Let’s face it, we all are in the middle of figuring out what we want. Some of us might have already set a specific goal in life, yet it doesn’t mean that covers all we want in the future, right? A jungle gym type allows us to be more flexible and open in starting and switching careers. When we see a career as a ‘jungle gym’, we will push ourselves to acquire different skill sets that are transferable across roles and industries.

Focus on What Matters

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming of starting your own company. Or aim of being a C-level, a manager in an organization, and even blaze your trail as a specialist. What matters the most is that you contribute not because you want that title or promotion but you care and you solve something. It’s not about hitting your own KPIs, but achieving the real mission together is the one that matters. And a jungle gym will let you see everything in greater views, not just focus on your so-called career path, but on the overall growth of your career. Make sure you grow in ways that benefit not only the company but also your career and personal development.

Prepare for the Workforce of Tomorrow

Last but not least, we all agree that the workforce is diverse and ever-evolving. Whether it’s a major restructuring. Or perhaps your job is taken over by automation and robots. You should be ready to create your career path.

While I’m not into figuring out my ultimate career goal in one night. I agree with Sheryl Sandberg when she said “what’s important the most is that we’re picking fast-growth jobs”. And of course, it matters that we’re working for a company with a mission that we believe in deeply. Both are criteria that you should have in mind before thinking of climbing up the corporate career ladder.

Unfortunately, too often, today’s companies seem still prefer to offer a one-size-fits-all management track for their employees. Most of them haven’t yet had the urge to build a system where specialists or individual contributors with rare skill sets are appreciated and rewarded as high as senior-level managers are.

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