How does a woman go about planning her career?


Recently, my mind’s been running paths to see where my career and life is going. I have had some career development mentor-ship and a read around. It is not surprising that when I began to collect my thoughts about where I see my career in 10 years, I had to consider the fact that I ‘d probably be taking a few years out to have kids and wait until they are old enough to go to a nursery for me to head back to work. Its interesting how a plan for my career, not much later, became a plan for my life where I saw the personal and professional struggling against each other – such is the life for women, right? And for the rare men who decide to make the same share of contribution at home.

I thought to myself, if at 30 my husband makes a director, I probably make a manager, or senior manager at best having spent fewer years in the workforce.

Having to leave the workforce for a few years, here I assumed was my choice but there’s possible solutions women (and other) leaders are presenting. Like encouraging growth in the child care industry, making it safer, cheaper and a more viable option. And by making maternal leaves more generous and creating a culture where men play a bigger role in child care and house work.

But there’s a counter argument to this, which I do feel very fondly for. Can the caretaker really bring up your kid the way you’d like? Is that how we want our next generation to be raised? And shouldn’t you (women and men) have the right to enjoy your parenthood? It’s not just about checking it off your list, right?

So what really is the solution? I am sure solutions and priorities are different for everybody. Not everybody has to leave the workforce, or have kids for that matter – but for me, I wondered how I could do justice to both my professional and personal pursuits.

So, what’s the solution if you do want to do all of that (which applies to me)? I thought hard and far and I think what would work best for me and for those who want to have a career, enjoy their kids and have a work-life balance, is to have options for flexible working. I have seen great examples in the workplace I am currently a part of it, which makes me rather fond of it. There’s executives who work from home and have little kids, visit the office once in a while and believe me I don’t feel any difference in the way they operate or work, especially as the companies are now global and teams scattered worldwide, where meetings happen over online conferences more often than in the conference rooms. I don’t think this is a permanent solution (while it could also be), but if you could have a few years to work flexibly, you never have to leave the workforce or miss out on seeing your children grow up. And you can always go back in full swing when you’re ready – sure you’d be making some compromise, but is there a better option?

Soul mates: Make them or meet them?


In religion, in life, in love – we are taught that we are created with a soul mate out there and we spend years building ourselves, preparing us for when we can finally meet them and make a life together but I am starting to question what this ‘soul mate story’ means anymore.

Is it that we make a soul mate? Or are we just in our architecture a perfect fit? And if it were the later, why is it that all successful relationship are based on some sort of compromise, tolerance etc – and that stands true for every relationships, friendship, family and so on. We are not all the same, not even children in the same family, so it would only be fair to acknowledge that, cherish the similarities, respect the differences and find what makes people great together.

But here’s what I am think thinking…. Do we make soul mates or meet them?

Beyond the Stereotype


Today, on my way back from dinner I had to pick up a tailoring job from a store and like usual it didn’t take more than a minute. But in this minute, I was forced to stop and think about stereotypes and the desperate need to break out of them.

When I entered the store, my pack was ready at the counter and I went straight for it as the shopkeeper handed it to me. In the queue although were a few European and Korean (looking) guys, waiting for their turn, so while I grabbed my pack I said ‘excuse me, sorry!’, exactly what I would have done if I were back in the UK, but instead of the suspicious stare I got from that group of guys in Pakistan, I would have probably just gotten way. I realised in that moment, that our behaviour (many a times) is not based on what the situation is, but on the pre-assumptions that we bring into that situation about each other and the situation itself.

I could also relate this stare to something which we do to people from our own cultures too. Sadly, you get to see a lot of that here as the inequality is enormous – It is when the more educated, sophisticated people judge the individuals from the lesser well off backgrounds. This got me thinking about the true solution to the problem is to truly and really accept the diversity within human beings and stop judging them based on their backgrounds, colour or ethnicity. Living in one of the most multicultural societies in the world, importance of tolerance is clear in London, where we know that only if someone looks brown, black or white, they wouldn’t necessarily be cultured a certain way or live a certain lifestyle. But I wish we could take that thinking with us everywhere – so that in every relationship, in every situation we’d start with an empty slate, with no pre-assumptions and stereotypes, so we’d really see things for what they are and know people for who they really are.

I think, one understands the true meaning of diversity when they see someone who they assume to be exactly like them, with similar backgrounds but they happen to have completely different ideas of what life is all about and different values and habits. I think that shakes us more than when we see someone from a different culture, doing things similar to us.

What I am trying to say is, whether a person is from your own or another race, you never know what hides under that skin and flesh – and I think we’re all worth that fair chance of showing each other who we really are and what we really stand for because beyond that stereotype is a whole different; and similar person in each one of us!

Wiring Kindness


Today has been an interesting day in our household. On my way back from work my brother called me to say his wallet had gone missing. It wasn’t the biggest surprise to me as it was in his pocket and he was in train which was packed in peak hours. And I guess it happens sometimes – Lucky he didn’t have much cash in the wallet, still he had lots of cards to block, renew and replace.

We were only just fretting over getting this done that my brother got a notification on his Instagram, that he had been tagged in a photo. Shockingly, it was picture of his wallet and he was tagged by a girl he had never heard or seen before. She said he should contact her and take the wallet off her. Turns out he had dropped his wallet while he was on the train and this kind lady had found it there and then looked for my brother on Instagram from his name and photo ID. My brother messaged her and he couldn’t have been more thankful, and later this week they will meet to have his wallet returned.

This episode gave me a reality check of how technology has changed our lives and it make me think why we talk so much about how is has made our lives complicated, occupied and inhumane – sometimes I think we lack a sense of positivity and we forget to think about all the great things it makes us capable of doing. Even if the lady had found the wallet, there was no way of her contacting my brother unless she went to his university and got his details, which would have meant so much effort and time. I think technology has amplified our habits, capabilities and it is helping us reach our potentials, while we still learn to completely and effectively incorporate it into our lives. So the people who are kind, have greater opportunities to do something good with their increased accessibility and connectivity and people who are not, they wouldn’t be any different without technology either.

Today I am proud to be born in this era of technological advancements.

Most difficult of difficulties..


We’ve all seen hardships, challenges, difficulties and problems which life throws at us – They make life what it is – An exciting yet precarious journey.

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Today I got thinking about the great and not so great things that happen in life and I realised that the things that infuriate you the most are the ones which you can do nothing about.

It is straight forward going through a problem with a solution known to you and in your control. You might have to work really really hard, you might have to give up hours or people or things you have but it helps to know how to reach a solution. In my life I have always seen challenges, milestones and every single day as a process. You find problems, you find their solutions, you celebrate, you enjoy and you find another one to solve. But all this sounds great!

It gets really stirring when there are things in life that you can do nothing about. You can’t decide or predict when and who you will meet, or if you would fall sick or recover, or if you will fall in love with a place or person, or change how someone thinks or feels and you can’t change timing of things… It is most difficult to wait for things to pan out not knowing how they would; waiting for destiny play out!

What we can learn from the Gentlemen…


From time to time, I self-evaluate myself, my life and everything around me which I can have an impact on. So that I could try and be my better self every single day. I have been observing and thinking and I came across some striking and very constructive habits, predominantly possessed by men, don’t get me wrong, some women do too, but I believe it comes naturally to men while women have to strive to develop these habits, like myself. While these habits have constructive implications for most things we do in life, I see them as vital for career progression and growth, especially in a work force which is more or less a ‘man’s world’ (Its changing!). So here’s the two of my favourite ones:

Solve the problem
They say sometimes when women talk about their problems, they don’t want solutions, they just want to be listened to. That’s alright as long as the one you share your problems with is limited to a trusted, close few. But we do this at work and in social circles excessively, women or men neither is it appealing nor constructive. Infact many would see it as a waste of time. If you can appreciate that there is a problem, don’t just leave it there – Take it, twist it, shake it, break it – Do whatever until you make peace with it. If it happens so, that there is nothing you can do about it, then is it really worth your time to discuss it?
Having said that to even understand or recognize a problem you must hear and say – but excessively complaining about things doesn’t seem like the most productive use of time, when you could rather be changing and shaking things.

Be full of yourself
It’s an absurd thing to say but I have seen way too many women shy to own their successes and achievements. The idea is: If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? You have got to start believing in your abilities and your decisions. And above all you need to know that you deserve what you are striving for. Sure, you learn from others, you need the luck, prayers and blessings, support from others etc but in the end YOU need to make things happen. Self-awareness is a gift, you need to know your strengths and your weaknesses, and especially when it comes you career you have got to build the former and manage the later. Personally, I find power posing to be an excellent help in this department.
Both of these habits, I believe, would make us more constructive, productive, happy and successful individuals and professionals. But these, with everything else, need to be adopted in moderation. No one wants to know or work with an arrogant bully or a complete bore.

On that note, keep learning from everything and everyone!

Wrecked with gratefulness


I always thought to myself that when great things happen in life, there is only one way to react to it. To do more, work harder, give more back.. But then there are moments in life when that is no longer sufficient. And words cannot describe how lucky I feel to be able to feel that way, may be just now, may be for a moment, but I am eternally grateful.

 

And I found this feeling not in but amidst of my milestones, not on an occasion but only on a walk back from home when a kind gesture from shopkeeper just made me stop and realise how life has showered me with blessings so much lately. Everything I was worried about is starting to fall in place, things I was sceptical about are starting to make sense, things I wanted to do are finally working out and I am among people who are ever so kind.

 

But moments of realisation like this bring a weird sense of helplessness, there is not even the urge to want to give back and work harder (but I shall try), because you can never ever do so much that would be enough and then all you can do is thank and thank and thank. I am so grateful!