I was 21 years old, working for one of the biggest and best employers in the world — IBM — and all I wanted to get my ThinkPad. To me, getting my work laptop signifies ‘I’ve made it.’
3 years after, I did get that laptop. I walked around the office looking like an extremely important, busy person and it felt like I was on my way to success.
That success never came. I couldn’t find it. It was elusive and even if I worked many hours, did my tasks for the day, received an award, I still left the company to move on to smaller ones.
I made more impact when I was working for a start-up co-managing a team of young tech support professionals. That was the job that I wanted and I genuinely saw myself working them for a long time. For a while, I knew I was making a difference.
Later, I got into a long-distance relationship with a guy from Seattle who I am very much committed to. 6 months into meeting him, I decided to get into freelancing so I can visit him more often. So I can travel longer. So I can start my own business. So I can be liberated from the cubicle and the boss and the limited vacation days.
Am I getting the same income that I was getting from my last job? No. Not yet. But I know I’ll get there and I plan to exceed it. It might take me the next 6 months or 1 year or even more, but I am willing to work for it.
My career plans have been permanently crossed off my list and these are the reasons why:
- Today, the real wealthy people are those who have the freedom to work or play at the time that they choose. Tim Ferriss, in the book The 4-Hour Workweek, said that having options — the ability to choose — is real power.
Although I loved working with a team in a nice office, I felt limited with the amount of time that I get to spend outside of it.
Life is waiting to be experienced and it’s right outside the exit door.
2. Working for a career is the path that I don’t want to be in anymore. I can work for that ThinkPad and be busy with meetings and emails but what does that mean?
So here’s the script: You get a job, enjoy it for the first 6–8 months (or 3 years, depending on your tolerance), then it gets shitty. You want to move somewhere else. You move somewhere else and get higher pay. Expenses increase as well. You get a nicer looking car, eat more expensive food, get deeper and deeper in debt and the list goes on. When the job goes away (you resign or get laid off), your identity & your self-worth go away with it. You get anxious about your future. You get on a job search engine and apply for the next job you can get.
One of the best, and shortest advice that I recall whenever I feel it’s the right time to quit is this:
If you don’t like something, change it! You are not a tree.
Thank you, Mr. Jim Rohn.
3. It was, from Tim Ferriss that I received permission not to have long-term goals. I thought I was crazy NOT to have 5 to 10 years plans because it seemed like everyone at work had them! Or at least, everyone talked about them during training sessions and workshops. I realized that I work better with short-term projects with long-term impacts just like changing a company culture or creating systems for efficiency. I thrive with turning my ideas into reality.
Every day, I look at my quarterly objectives, take one step each day to get closer to completion, and plan my next move from there.
Things that I value the most and what I want to spend my time on are:
Reading books, writing stories, consuming awesome content by writers that I learn so much from here in Medium, spending quality time with people I love and respect and admire, making my relationship a happy one and closing the gap between Seattle and Manila in the soonest possible time, practicing Ashtanga yoga and working towards being a certified teacher.
If you are 21 years old, starting with your career and optimistic about your future…that’s great. This is probably the right thing for you to do. Do your best, be a good colleague, cover your ass at all times, and make the most out of the experience. You will grow immensely if you let yourself.
If, one day, your preferences change, and you decide to move (because you are not a tree, remember?) to where your heart and mind are leading you to, face it with courage. It will not be easy but never let fear dictate your decisions.
Mistakes will be made, regrets might surface from time to time and you might even question yourself many times over. ‘Am I really doing the right thing? Everyone else seems to be progressing in their careers except me.’
Life is short, my friend. If you fail, so what? Shake it off and try again. Know that whatever you throw away, you do for the right reasons and intentions.