Sports is a great teacher. Today we will use sports to explain a very important Career Concept. We have all played different sports as kids, many of us continue to play even as we grow older. So what is so addictive about sports?

When we play a game of cricket or football or badminton, we are happy. We forget all our worries and enjoy the moment. It makes us happy and happiness is a state of mind that doesnt depend on whether we win the game. On the other hand, if one of us plays a very important role in helping our team win, this achievement gives us immense satisfaction ! Satisfaction is the pride we get from contributing to the success of the team. So, happiness and satisfaction are two pillars of our mental state. One defines the state of mind (happy) and the other defines the state of achievement (satisfaction). However the key difference is, happiness gives us joy without being troubled by the consequences. 

Let us take this learning to career selection. Let’s take the example of two students who are studying to be doctors. Their ambition to become doctors is driven by parents, peers, society and other influencing factors. Though both of them like biology, Student 1 is very curious by nature and reads a lot about bacteria and viruses and how they attack our body. She always asks questions and loves to solve puzzles. Student 2, on the other hand, enjoys writing, is a good writer and has won several prizes in school in various writing competitions about the impact of environmental pollution.

Both these students are reasonably good in studies. Their professional goals, to become a doctor, is based on societal expectations. But will they be happy becoming doctors? Student 1 has a natural affinity for research due to her curiosity. Her personal goal should be to follow a career that gives her happiness and where she fits in naturally, in a lab, solving biological puzzles. Student 2 could be a Science Journalist because he loves writing and could combine his love for biology and writing to create scientific awareness through media. On the other hand, if both became doctors, though they met their professional goals, they still wouldn’t be happy because they have given up their natural tendencies (personal goals).

Personal goals are not just about sports, they are just about anything that we enjoy doing without thinking too much about our accomplishments. It could be reading books or travelling or socializing with people, anything that we gravitate towards naturally. The key is that a career is made up of both personal (happiness) and professional goals (achievement). Being happy doing something will definitely lead you to achieving excellence in that activity. But achieving excellence in something doesn’t mean you are happy doing it. Lions and tigers in the circus perform perfect stunts but they are seldom happy. 

Remember, our school life is 17 years, college life 6 years, but our career spans 40 years. So whatever career we pursue needs to be sustainable for 40 years. This is possible only if we have the right balance between personal and professional goals. Think of your career like a gripping suspense movie. You don’t know what comes next, but you enjoy the movie, for its twists and turns. In the same way, your career path would be unpredictable. But as long as you enjoy the path, you will figure out how to adjust yourself to face the unpredictability. And when you are happy doing something (personal goal), you will do it well (professional goal) and money will follow!

Rafael Nadal summed this up perfectly when he was asked about winning his 19th Grand Slam. He said he was definitely satisfied that he won more grand slams than he ever imagined, but what would make him happier would be to play tennis as long as he can because playing tennis (happiness) is bigger than winning grand slams (satisfaction). But he won all those grand slams because he loved playing tennis which made him a near perfect player. 

Nothing beats being happy whether it is sport or a career !