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4 effective ways to survive competition at work

Last updated on: September 23, 2011 17:16 IST

Is your work life getting competitive by the day? Harnoor Channi-Tiwary suggests four effective ways that will help you cope with competition, better your prospects and secure your future. Read on.

Gone are the days when one was satisfied with a promotion every couple of years, perks such as magazine allowance and bonuses that gave ceiling fans instead of hard cash. Today's employee is in a race -- not just with the entire world but even with himself.

If he got a promotion in 12 months last year, a double promotion in 8 months must follow. General Manager by 32, Vice President by 34, CEO by 38...such are the expectations today.

Which is great but do you pause and think -- then what? When your children have just started school, you are already at the peak of your career.

How are you going to sustain it for the next 20 years? Unless you're backed by old money, retiring at 35 is not a feasible dream.

Yet to enable yourself and your family to live well and retire early at 45, there has to be a game plan with clear career goals that go beyond annual designation changes.

Harnoor Channi-Tiwary is the founder of Journey My Way, a personalised travel advisory firm

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1. Study further to leap ahead

Photographs: Illustration by Uttam Ghosh
When you realise that you have risen fast and furious but everyone above you now is more experienced or better placed for you to grow, it's time to go back to school. A late MBA is fast becoming a popular norm.

It helps you leap ahead of competition after you have gained a certain position. One must ensure though that the MBA is done from an Ivy League college to have the desired impact. Management courses today can be done part time as the Executive Programme. This ensures that you don't even need to quit your job to pursue them.

Most courses also offer scholarships or else you can ask your employer to sponsor you (they may ask you to sign a bond).

"Adding to your education later in your career helps you relook at things with a new and enhanced perspective" mentions Deepak A, having done an Executive MBA on the side with his travel intensive job in an IT giant.

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2. Change tracks

Photographs: Illustration by Uttam Ghosh
Often we choose our line of work too early in our lives.

By the time we realise that this is not really what we want to do with our lives, we feel that we're stuck and must stick to this.

If you feel like this, remember one thing. You live once. No one is holding a report card to your performance in life.

If your work doesn't make you happy, quit. Find something that does.

There is so much one can do but taking that step into the unknown abyss scares off most. Plan your finances, talk to your spouse and go ahead.

A marketing professional by education, I realised that my passions lay in writing and travel. With my husband's support, I quit the corporate life that I detested and today am a freelance writer and a travel advisor, I work at my own pace.

I realised that if every Sunday night if I was going to bed with tears in my eyes, at age 27 I was dying way too soon.

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3. Start your own business

Photographs: Illustration by Uttam Ghosh
If working for another person is not your cup of tea, think up of business ideas and start your own business.

Choosing what business to do is the most difficult part. You must keep in mind the following:

  • Choose a business that is relevant to the demand environment around you. If you love French food but there isn't a market for the cuisine in your town, there is no point in opening a French Bistro.
  • Choose a business that interests you. If your second career is also not of your liking, what is the point?
  • Work out the business plan. Understand how many years it will take for you to break even and how you will manage the start up and working capital.
  • Market yourself well. If your proposition is sound, the entire game is letting people know. Brand. Brand. Brand.
  • Use all the contacts you have made in your corporate and personal life.

Dipika Biswas was a successful marketing professional when she decided that her little baby demanded her work times to be flexible. Thus, she quit corporate life and started her own advertising firm Debi's Advertising Pvt. Ltd. and today juggles home, the firm as well as her classes at Management School -- all on her own terms.

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4. Invest wisely

Photographs: Illustration by Uttam Ghosh
To do all this and more, it is important to plan your finances well. You can't really live on love and fresh air.

Invest from an early age. Have investments which reap you periodic benefits like property rent or pension schemes.

If planned well, you can retire early and have enough money to sustain your current lifestyle. Then you may pursue other interests like Golf or volunteering at an NGO.

Agrees Rasna Arora, Owner, DeeRas Investments "Living like there's no tomorrow will ensure you have nothing left for then!"