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Category Archives: Career
I know I talk a lot about money and being financially independent as soon as possible but having a career, and having a life is not about living for the money and working like a dog.
(Unless you really love doing that, then by all means….. would you mind sending me a cheque? )
You have to enjoy the job you are doing as well, seeing as you spend 40+ hours a week at it.
There is no point in having all of that money in retirement if you suffered, and felt miserable through the majority of your life to get it.
Be happy with your lot, or change and find something that may pay less, but will make you 10X happier.
This is why Harvard Business Review’s Top Five Career Regrets struck such a chord with me. I’ve taken quotes from each regret:
Career Regret #1: I wish I hadn’t taken the job for the money
Lamented one investment banker, “I dream of quitting every day, but I have too many commitments.” Another consultant said, “I’d love to leave the stress behind, but I don’t think I’d be good at anything else.” Via
Career Regret #2: I wish I had quit earlier
Said one sales executive, “Those years could have been spent working on problems that mattered to me. You can’t ever get those years back.” Via
Career Regret #3: I wish I had the confidence to start my own business
Even Fortune 500 CEOs dream of entrepreneurial freedom.
Admitted one: “My biggest regret is that I’m a ‘wantrepreneur.’ I never got to prove myself by starting something from scratch.” Via
Career Regret #4: I wish I had used my time at school more productively
A biology researcher recounted her college experience as being “in a ridiculous hurry to complete what in hindsight were the best and most delightfully unstructured years of my life.” Via
Career Regret #5: I wish I had acted on my career hunches
In 2005, an investment banker was asked to lead a small team in (now) rapidly growing Latin America. Sensing that the move might be an upward step, he still declined. Crushingly, the individual brave enough to accept the offer was promoted shortly to division head, then to CEO. Via
Via Harvard Business Review: Read the entire Top Five Career Regrets in detail here.
Pretty powerful, no?
Here’s my take:
DON’T JUST LOOK AT THE INCOME
Instead of focusing your energy on getting more income, why not focus it on seeing how LITTLE you can spend for a comfortable life, so you can have a wider range of career possibilities?
If you spend a lot of money, like $80,000 a year because you have a house, 2 cars, and all the trappings of a middle-class existence, then you will be forced to stay in that job forever.
But if you change your spending habits and only spend about $30,000 net a year, you only need to make about $48,000 gross.
What jobs and careers open up for you then?
BEING YOUR OWN BOSS IS NOT ALWAYS THE ANSWER
Not everyone wants to do it, so don’t focus on it being the solution if deep down, you know you don’t want to be on your own.
It is NOT an easy life to be your own boss, to own your own shop or business and to be the only person accountable for every damn thing including making sure you have enough money to survive through the tough years.
It is a Feast or Famine lifestyle.
I know at least 2 freelancers who became their own boss, rather liked it for the money at the time, but then re-joined a company at the end of it all for various reasons:
- Had no idea how to create a budget and stick to it
- Had no savings & spent every penny they earned & when the famine hit, they starved into debt
- Preferred a stable career with a manager, a structure, colleagues and the whole 9 yards
- Didn’t want to be a Lone Wolf (many freelancers are fiercely independent Lone Wolves…a hard life)
NEVER SAY NEVER
I can safely say that I’ve avoided turning all of the above Career Regrets into Lifetime Woes.
Hit all of them.
At school, I didn’t work THAT hard once I got into business school, partly because I was working 2 full-time jobs to stem the pain of student debt, so I sort of enjoyed those years (Avoided Regret #4).
Then I literally took the best-paying job for the money to clear my loans (Avoided Regret #1), and by luck, ended up loving it.
I couldn’t take dealing with managers any more, so I quit after a few years (Avoided Regret #2), and found my own way in the industry by starting my own business (Avoided Regret #3) by acting on my career hunch (Avoided Regret #5).
It is never too late to change, but it will always be too late for regrets.
Someone recently asked me if I felt guilty that I could charge so much money per hour as a consultant, and I could basically making in a month or two what some people make in a year on minimum wage.
I paused, and said: “No, why should I? I worked hard for it.”
This kind of answer surprised them I think, because I was being honest (a little too honest?), seemingly arrogant (I like ‘confident’ instead), and it was a rather harsh answer for a society that tends to try and put the guilt trip on those who make good money, and to not be so selfish with it.
(For the record, I don’t think I’m selfish with it. There are plenty of people who make the same amount of money but don’t donate any of it. I have some inkling of a conscience.)
I’ve already talked a bit about those who inherited their wealth rather than having worked for it here: Imagine if you were Born Rich (documentary) of heirs and heiresses, and Nietzsche had it right when he said ‘guilt is a useless emotion’.
MAKING GOOD MONEY IS ALL RELATIVE TO OTHERS
There’s always going to be someone else making more money (or less) than I, so it’s relative to my perception of how much I make.
That’s great news to me, because I can control what I feel and think, which lets me have a rosy, shiny attitude on my life, rather than a dark, grumpy grey one.
See, beside someone like Beyonce, who pulls in double my average salary in a day ($140K), I’d feel downright poor if I chose to feel poor.
(And she looks .. incredible to boot, with perfect hair and symmetrical features. Of course she does.)
It’s easy to think: It’s not fair. She has more than I do.
..until you realize what she did to get to that fame and stardom.
Example: I can’t imagine going on a crazy fad diet of just drinking cayenne-laced water with lemon and maple syrup just to lose weight — that is some serious dedication to your craft, albeit unrealistic and unhealthy.
If I was told to do that diet to keep my job, I’d find another job.
That’s the lazy and rather ridiculous way out, saying how people with more, should share it freely with people who haven’t done jack squat to earn any of it.
It also depends on who you end up socializing with that colours how you look at money.
I’ve never really felt guilty about making a lot of money, although I can understand (somewhat) the people who do feel like they don’t deserve it.
I MAKE MORE MONEY BECAUSE I TOOK THE RISKS WITHOUT A GUARANTEED REWARD
I started making that kind of cash at 26, because I did a few major things that no one else in my profession did at my age:
- Took the risk of not having a steady paycheque to become a freelancer
- Quit a very solid company only after having been there for a year or two
- Learned very quickly how to budget my irregular income as to not let it go to my head
Can others say the same? If you don’t take the risk, you can’t get the potential reward.
(Please don’t liken this to buying a lottery ticket so you can be in it to win it.
That’s not even close to what I’m referring to.)
A bit of luck was on my side because I quit at the right time, but luck is what you create for yourself, by putting yourself in front of a wide range of opportunities, and seeing what sticks.
I could have just as spectacularly failed with my little strategy, but that’s the whole point of risk versus reward.
WORKING HARD IS ALSO RELATIVE TO WHAT YOU DO
If I worked hard for it, I deserve it.
Maybe your idea of working hard, is that you have to be there at 5 a.m., work with only a short 10-minute break every hour or so (as dictated by your union), and then punch out at 3 p.m., free to go home, put your feet up and eat a can of beans, forgetting and putting aside the entire day you just had.
It’s more physical than mental.
You absolutely deserve every penny of that paycheque you got.
(Assuming it’s fair wages…)
Mine, is that I have to (as part of my job) basically put up with people for long hours, who don’t care about their jobs enough to do a good one.
I have to step in to fix it, cajole them into working properly and make sure that they can’t do weird (or illegal) things to sidestep putting in the effort, and screwing their colleagues around them who are expecting Result A, but get Result X2471 and end up creating a company snowball of crap that spreads everywhere like a disease.
It’s more mental than physical.
I have to try and convince everyone to do their jobs correctly for the sake of their colleagues, but I can’t be there, babysitting them for every minute of the day.
I always tell them I WILL be leaving at the end of the project, which means they can’t just say: Oops, sorry. I need you to come and fix this. Again.
I may not seem like I’m “working hard” because I’m not getting down and dirty in the furnaces and come out with a sore, aching back, covered in soot, but I am equally as (perhaps more) exhausted at the end of the day.
On top of it all, I am unable to switch my brain off after work because I’m trying to figure out how to solve the 10 problems I ran into this morning in an efficient manner without costing more money in the long-run, or making people’s workload heavier for no reason.
The physical job is in some ways, a lot easier, and dare I say that most people wouldn’t be able to handle the mental part of it, or would choose NOT to?
(Yeah, I said it.)
So I too, absolutely deserve EVERY penny of the paycheque I got.
SOME PEOPLE FEEL GUILTY BECAUSE THEIR PARENTS MADE FAR LESS
Another way that people choose to let themselves feel guilty is because they don’t know anyone else around them who makes that kind of money.
It’s a limiting world view.
My parents made near to nothing for most of their lives, working mostly at minimum wage, half the time.
They accepted that they weren’t good enough at that point in their lives to make more money (or were just downright lazy and delusional about winning the lottery.)
I too, have accepted that I have less of a net worth from the past 2 years because I didn’t work.
I’m not mad about the situation because I chose it for myself. The key is to choose these things, rather than have them chosen for you.
I am not my parents, and they are not me.
It’d be like comparing a raspberry to an orange. They’re two different things.
They couldn’t imagine quitting a steady job just to give something a shot, with a 50% chance that it would stick.
My mom almost cried and pleaded heavily upon hearing that I wanted to quit, but now she’s just mollified and proud that it worked out so well in the end, because I took the risk to do it.
She freely admits that the whole idea of quitting one’s steady job is the antithesis to how she has been raised to think about life and work. She didn’t get it then, but she does now.
Instead of being jealous, she’s thrilled.
OPPORTUNITIES ARE MISSED EVERYDAY
It’s also a question of opportunities you come across, and I don’t feel guilty because I tried to take every chance I had presented to me.
I took on some strange jobs for a kid, but as Steve Jobs would say, I connected the dots in hindsight:
- Paper route as a kid (then I corralled other kids into working as a group while I took a small cut)
- Selling virtual items for real cash on eBay (story coming up on this)
- Selling thrifted clothing but putting in the hours to present it well on eBay
- Freelanced in high school on weekends while working a minimum wage job flipping burgers
- Worked as an assistant superintendent of a building to get subsidized rent & deal with cranky college students…..while attending the same college as these tenants
All of the above (to some extent) let me see clearly, and craft an opportunity out of what I was given once I started working.
I saw that jobs were not black and white, neatly typed titles in companies that came with “roles” and “responsibilities”. They were what you made them out to be, if you chose to work differently.
Even today, some people have the best job in the world (mine, obviously), and can’t see the forest for the trees because it is a job they are not meant to do, but they can’t quit because the money is holding them into a job they hate.
I’ve always thought: “What an awful way to live your life, chained to your job only because of salary.”
If you don’t love your job, it is an awful way to live, just to work for the money.
Why would you do something you aren’t meant to do?
You are meant to do it, if you love to do it, would do it for free and most importantly: are good at it.
We always gloss over the last part of being good at something we love to do.
I can understand that not everyone can become a singer, songwriter, dancer, actor, chef or fashion designer, but they aren’t meant to do those jobs either.
I love playing the piano, but I am not as good as people who are naturally talented. I got to where I am just from hard work, but it’s not enough, and my passion is not there.
Those are hobbies, not careers, if you don’t have any recognizable talent. It means you haven’t searched deep down inside yourself and honestly said: I suck at this. Maybe I should do something else.
(Yeah I said it again.)
You’d be surprised watching reality shows how many people think they have talent.
The ones who do have any scrap of talent, don’t understand that they don’t have AS MUCH talent, relative to others, and should stick to it as a hobby and find something else to do as a career.
They are mediocre in the face of those who are simply better than they are at their chosen field.
Even the ones who win those singing competitions — do we know who they are?
Are they as famous or more famous than singers like Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Rhianna, and other solidly A-or-B-List vocal powerhouses?
I think not.
(And those are the ones who “made” it, and won the singing competitions or other talent competitions!)
They’re good, but they weren’t meant to sing for their bread. (Literally.)
REALLY LET’S JUST CALL IT WHAT IT IS — LAZINESS & DENIAL
I chalk that up to sheer laziness and denial, actually.
Denial is a strong, effective drug that most of us are happy to drink in, and coupled with laziness, it’s a perfect cocktail for doing nothing.
They’re too lazy to get up off their asses, go back to school, find another job, quit, start a side business or do anything that could potentially change their life for the better.
Do that singing, designing bit as a hobby.
If it takes off, it takes off and you were just an undiscovered diamond in the rough, but don’t bet your whole life on something that probably won’t pay your basic bills, and then moan about how you are SOOOO freakin’ talented but no one sees it.
If you can’t do the job (sing, dance, write, cook, design, etc), then you should be the one trying to teach and help others achieve greatness.
Be the agent, the broker, the coach, or the in-betweener.
All the hard work in the world will not make up for the lack of natural talent, especially up against someone who has natural talent in spades and who works hard. They’re wasting their precious energy and time on something that is not meant for them.
You will reach a level of competence from hard, HARD work, but you’ll never surpass those who are simply better than you are.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE EXCUSES I HEAR:
Other people, can’t even see the opportunities in front of them because of a number of reasons:
- “That’s beneath me and I deserve a better job than that”
- “I have no clue what I’m doing in that field”
- “It sounds so hard / I don’t have the money” (Read: I’m lazy and I don’t want to change)
For those who think a job is beneath them, maybe the hard truth is that it isn’t.
It’s exactly the job that you deserve.
There are people who start out at fry cooks at McDonald’s, and after 30 years, have worked their way up to Director at a company.
It was exactly the job they deserved, and they saw the opportunity in rising in ranks, doing something they enjoyed and were good at.
But if they started as a fry cook with the mentality moaning about how they don’t deserve to flip burgers, they’ll never see the missed opportunities in front of them, and will work there for the rest of their lives as a fry cook.
Or maybe that’s just what they deserve for all that whining and lack of action.
I can understand people who freak out because they have no idea what they’re doing in that particular field and think they need years and years of experience to do it right, but the reality is that NO ONE knew what they were doing before they started.
Are you smart enough to learn and figure it out in a short amount of time?
I’ll let you in on a secret — about 50% of the time, I encounter things I can’t remember or have never done before. I make lots of notes, obviously… but still.
I can’t remember everything all the time.
Instead of freaking out or saying: I dunno, I dive right into learning all I can about it, in the shortest amount of time possible, and I usually come out of the situation to realize that I know more about that subject than someone who has been doing it for 25 years.
I have a lot of confidence (obviously) in my ability to figure things out, and to deal with unknown circumstances.
The last group of folks that don’t want to change, can just refer back up to my paragraph about being lazy.
So as this long-winded answer comes to the same end I started with at the top of this post:
No. I don’t ever feel guilty for what I make as an income.
Why should I? I worked for it and I’m good at it.
(Incidentally, women are always the ones who feel guiltier and less deserving than men.
Stop thinking that, it’s a stupid way to limit your income-making potential. You are no less deserving than anyone else.)
DO YOU EVER FEEL GUILTY? WHY?
(I AM GENUINELY CURIOUS, NOT TRYING TO BE CONDESCENDING)
Do you ever wonder what the point of all this is? What the purpose of our lives are?
Personally, I believe we all have a purpose in life, and that’s to live.
Breathing in one breath and out, sleeping, eating, waking, and other bodily functions.
That’s living at its core if you think about it from a purely physical standpoint.
Ah but there’s more! The emotional.
Our purpose as human beings is really not to hoard money like some Scrooge, but end up all alone (perhaps divorced) and regretting all the moments you missed out in life because you were sitting on your great big pile of money.
I know, it sounds so strange with a PF blogger saying this, but it really isn’t the whole point or motivation of why I save money.
Our only purpose is to live in the Today, and in the Now.
I’ve already long accepted that I set my own little human-sized goals to reach $250,000 in net worth, and eventually a million before I retire, but ultimately, it is actually an insignificant accomplishment if I were to drop dead the day before I go to use that money.
But wait — it’s also not an excuse I can use to say:
Hey living in the Now means I get to go on a big shopping spree like the world is about to end tomorrow.
I still have to consider and plan carefully for the other very real possibility — that I will live beyond my retirement age, and perhaps well into my 90s.
IT’S NOT DEPRESSING IF YOU ALREADY DO WHAT YOU WANT
So is this depressing that you would have to save your whole life, but then imagine you die before you get to use that money?
It isn’t to me, because I’m already doing what I want to do today, and that includes saving enough for my (high) probability of living well into my 90s.
I couldn’t imagine a happier overall existence for myself, all things considered.
Sure, some days really suck and I wish things didn’t happen, but it’s just one day in the grand scheme of my life.
It’s like saying you’re angry for 3 seconds because you didn’t have any milk for your tea this morning, and it ruined your entire WEEK.
Now doesn’t that sound ridiculous?
PEOPLE SPEND THEIR WHOLE LIVES WAITING FOR THEIR LIVES TO BEGIN
The other day BF and I sat around talking about what happens after people win the lottery.
I won’t bore you with the details, but we came to the conclusion that many people probably spend their whole lives:
- going into debt
- dreaming of hitting it big in the lottery
…all so that they can finally start living their dream life.
Reality Check: You won’t get another life.
This is already YOUR DREAM LIFE that you have been dealt with, and the longer you put it off, the longer your Older Self will regret it.
The writing is on the wall. Photograph I took in the Beijing Museum of old Chinese characters.
Seeing as the odds of winning the lottery are extremely slim (it’s so slim, I can’t even see it), it’s sad to imagine that we’re all putting what we want to do on hold before we can start doing what we want.
All because of money? How ridiculous is that?
You can change your situation, because it’s YOUR life and you are in control.
Start budgeting, track your expenses, and get your ass into gear to do what it takes.
Or if you tell yourself: I’d love more free time so I can travel, and read books which is why I work so hard, so that I can have a secure financial future to do those things.
Are you kidding me right now? Go read a book NOW.
You’re probably wasting time reading this blog when you could be immersed in your dream activity, instead of waiting for the right or the best time to do it.
WHAT WOULD MORE MONEY CHANGE FOR ANYONE?
Then we turned it back onto ourselves as a self-reflection after we thought about people who win the lottery:
What would we do if we won the lottery?
BF said he’d have grand plans for that cash, and it would involve…… wait for it…. putting it into the bank and waiting for the best day to use it.
Not only is it extremely boring as a grand plan, but I realized that I would do exactly the same thing.
So then we asked:
What’s the best day then, to use the money?
For that, we had no answer.
Most people would quit, and find that to be the “dream of a lifetime”, but I can tell you that from my past 3 years, there’s no way I’d go back to just sitting around all day long, doing jack squat, and being bored out of my skull.
Quitting your job or having a job where you don’t need to work a lot, and doing NOTHING ALL DAY is not all it’s cracked up to be.
It really isn’t.
I for one, am extremely excited to go back to work, no matter how politically-incorrect that may sound.
I am excited to challenge my brain again, make money (yes, it gives me great satisfaction to make a lot of money), and to have something to fill the empty hours of the day of what I have as a life.
So then we talked about perhaps opening a business.
Or doing something that would occupy our time and our empty hours that we’d enjoy.
Open a restaurant. No, too much work, and it’s hot in there.
Okay, open a store.
A business. But selling what? What could we sell??
We sat that racking our brains for a good half hour of ideas before I said:
But if we wanted to do something other than what we’re doing now…
… shouldn’t we go and do it today so that we’re happy NOW?
And that ended the discussion because we realized that we are already doing what we want to do with our lives.
I ONLY HAVE ONE THING I WANT TO DO: VISIT JAPAN
I only have ONE thing on my list for the rest of my life, and it’s to visit Japan.
I know everyone tells me that the radiation is not a problem, and I even agree with reading the studies (rationally speaking). I KNOW I just have to stick to Tokyo and other areas far away from the radiation…
….but I’m a very young Worrying Wendy, I don’t want to screw my chances of living to a long ripe age just because I can’t wait 20 years or so to go see a country.
Nor do I want to screw my chances of not being able to have kids.
Or worse, passing anything toxic on to them.
In addition, I’ll be closer to death (theoretically speaking), and radiation won’t be that much of an issue for me by that time.
But it is something I get to look forward to when I get older. I almost can’t wait for 20 years to pass!
SO ASK YOURSELF:
ARE YOU LIVING THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE, TODAY?
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
It’s really crap that men aren’t allowed to take time off to be with their newborn kids.
Yes, they aren’t the ones who carried them for 9 months inside, gave birth to them or are able to feed them for the first little while, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair.
I think it would be great to give men the choice if they wanted. No stigma attached, only encouragement.
It would take the burden off women having to sacrifice their careers, just because they’re biologically able to reproduce.
Something like the first 6 months for the mom, and another 6 months for the dad sounds fair to me.
(In an ideal world, which also assumes you have money saved or a wonderful government and company who supports such things.)
THEY DO IT RIGHT IN SWEDEN
In Sweden, home of where one of my favourite authors lived (Stieg Larsson), not to mention being one of the most memorable cities in the world to visit, men take paternity leave.
From trendy central Stockholm to this village in the rugged forest south of the Arctic Circle, 85 percent of Swedish fathers take parental leave.
Those who don’t face questions from family, friends and colleagues.
As other countries still tinker with maternity leave and women’s rights, Sweden may be a glimpse of the future.
Can you believe it? Those who DON’T take paternity leave, are asked why.
Then you read this:
…laws reserving at least two months of the generously paid, 13-month parental leave exclusively for fathers — a quota that could well double after the September election — have set off profound social change.
Not only do women get 13-months of paid parental leave, men are entitled to 2 months of it, possibly 4 months by now.
IT WAS SOMEWHAT EASIER IN THE PAST, STRAPPING A BABY TO YOUR BACK
It was so much easier in the past. Women who worked in the fields, would strap that baby on their back or to their front, and go on with their day.
It was definitely not easy having to tote around a squealing, fragile, bundle of joy, but in terms of being able to work and have children, it was better.
Today, women would get weird looks if they brought their newborn babies into work… or would they?
Check out these pictures: Licia Ronzulli with her daughter at work.
She started when the baby Vittoria was just 6 weeks old!!
“The working mum took advantage of relatively relaxed rules allowing women to take their babies to work by cradling Victoria in a sling during the debate.
But while Mrs Ronzulli juggled being a mum and an MEP with ease, baby Victoria was clearly worn out by the lengthy discussions, sleeping throughout the experience.
Since then, the 37-year-old, who is a member of the environment, health and food safety commission, has brought her child with her to many voting sessions.” Via
This is a more a recent picture taken of Licia and Vittoria. Don’t they look adorable!?
I am down for this!
The only thing is that her job is probably more silent than mine would be.
I talk and work a lot with other people in meetings when I work, whereas hers seems to involve headphones and silence, and that would not bode well for babies, I think.
What do you think?
If you live in a country other than the U.S. or Canada, how does parental leave work there?
I read a few interesting articles over the past few days that I thought would segue nicely with my previous post: Who really needs a college degree anyway?
A college degree was and is still used as a filter of sorts
College used to filter out who were the cream of society — usually, they were rich and smart.
When you look at college photos in the past, they had VERY small graduating classes because almost no one could get a degree without money, connections and/or brains.
The entire graduating class of 1907 from The University of Delaware
The entire graduating class of 2011 from The University of Delaware; You can’t even see all of them!
Yes, there are more people on the Earth today than before, but the proportion of graduates has increased like crazy.
Today, they serve the same purpose for companies to figure out who is better than someone else as an employee, but it doesn’t work quuuuite as well.
We all know this is partly crap, because I could have gone to an awful school and have been smarter than someone else who went to a very expensive school but was just average.
Still, that’s how it works today.
It’s imperfect, but it’s the only thing companies can really use to try and figure out who might fit best into the company and have the skills to do the job with little supervision or training.
Yes, I know, we don’t want to think that anyone can be considered smarter than anyone else, because we’re all amazing, super smart, fantastically unique angels who can do nothing wrong because we’re all #1 (!!), but it’s true.
The college degree is now the new high school degree
A college degree today, is what a high school degree was in the past — something everyone thinks they should have as a basic education. I already wrote a post on this: Who really needs a college degree anyway?
Something that is now taken for granted as a necessary thing to have.
I read a stat somewhere that said 45% of people aged 18-24, go to college.
How can almost half of people in a society all have so-called good jobs at $100,000 a year?
Do you think in any average multi-national company, you’ll find that 45% of those people are in good jobs?
It’d be impossible — it would be “too many chiefs, not enough indians”, as the saying goes.
I think a more accurate percentage should be 10% as the maximum of people that end up going to college and using those degrees in good jobs.
In France, I am told it is 5%. Only 1% of that 5%, are people who go to really GOOD schools.
That seems a bit severe to me, but it’s certainly better than lying to your children and citizens by telling them that EVERYONE can have a good job.
(And maybe they’ll even hate their ‘good job’, and want to become something else entirely. Read: Who really hates their jobs?)
A good job for most people is making $50K a year, working 40 hours a week in an office.
That doesn’t exist for 45% of the population, and this is exactly why we have a problem with education today.
Likewise, members of the general popuation were twice as likely as college leaders to say that college isn’t worth the price: 80% of U.S. adults agreed that at many colleges, the education students receive is not worth what they pay for it.
Only 41% of college leaders agreed with them.
Read: Higher Education Poll
College degrees are not created equal and they aren’t your hobbies (unless you’re very lucky…)
With that in mind, I also believe two other major things:
- Not all degrees are created equal (not everyone can be a successful fashion designer)
- Degrees should not be taken as a way to do your hobby for money
This means that the ‘hard’ degrees that involve math, science or any kind of technical brain work that people tend to squeal and say “OMG I just don’t get it“, are the degrees that generally make the most money.
We also call those STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) professions, which women are not really represented in.
See, given a choice between fashion design or science, I can guess where most girls (for instance) might gravitate towards, for reasons we are all already aware of.
Anyway, the real problem with college degrees being a filter, is that the filter is broken — just about ANYONE can get a degree now, if they want to pay.
Ergo, having a degree doesn’t necessarily mean you have skills that companies want any more.
A college degree is useful only if you plan on using it
If you plan on working in advertising, then get a degree in it.
Sometimes it’s just dumb luck that you end up in a job totally unrelated to your degree, but are you going to stake $25,000 of student debt plus future interest payments of dumb luck that your degree which you took just because you like the subject, will land you in a nice, cushy job?
Didn’t think so.
It’s also partly why I refuse to go back for an MBA — it’s a waste of money in my profession even if someone paid for it.
In my field, they couldn’t care less if you had 18 MBAs and 5 PhDs with a Partridge in a Pear Tree.
Either you know how to do the job or you don’t.
Otherwise, college is a waste of money
45 percent of today’s college students show no significant improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills after two years of college.
More than one-third fail to improve after four years of college.
It was a $60,000 investment for me, which thankfully paid off.
For others, it’s on average a $25,000 debt they will never be able to pay off in a reasonable amount of time.
For the most part, college in general is all a big scam in my eyes for most people.
The poll noted that the average debt load for college students who took out loans and graduated in 2010 was $25,250.
Three-quarters of college leaders (74%) said they thought this was a reasonable amount of debt for a college degree, but only 38% of the public agreed with them.
A majority of the public (55%) thought this debt load was too high, compared with 24% of college leaders.
Read: Higher Education Poll
Yes, it worked out for me, but I was in the right place, in the right degree, at the right time. It’s partly luck.
I also happened to choose a rarer industry to enter based on my interest in that industry, rather than because I thought I could make a ton of money. (I had no idea.)
What I find the most appalling in our current education system is how much money is just being greedily taken without nary a thought as to the damage they’re doing to taking advantage of students who can’t find a job afterwards.
We simply don’t have enough regulation around such practices of just paying for a degree, and we have too many colleges and people becoming so-called “college educated”.
The worst, are colleges that hand out certificates or “diplomas”, and call them degrees.
Why don’t you just call them as they are? Certificates!! It’s far more valuable.
Certificates aren’t bad at all if you can use that knowledge and the certificate in your job.
Otherwise, it is a big scam and a waste of money.
A company I worked for, paid $20,000 for me to obtain a certificate which is STILL helping me attain contracts and credibility to this day.
Consider trade schools and other professions instead
I feel like I’m flogging a dead horse here, but white collar jobs are not all they’re cracked up to be.
Electricians, Plumbers, Construction Workers, they can all make more money than someone who sits at a desk getting an apple-shaped belly.
It just depends on if you have any mechanical or technical aptitude to do the job and love it so much that you become really awesome at it.
Above all, forget online degrees
(This means you Vanessa… )
Online degrees to me, are places where you mail away 3 cereal box tabs and you receive a paper in the mail saying you’re now an “Engineer” [of Fairyland].
From Time Online: Can an online degree really help you get a job?
…a November 2011 report by the Babson Survey Research Group found that more than 6.1 million students took at least one online class during the fall of 2010, a 10% increase over the previous year and nearly four times the number of students taking online courses a decade ago.
66% [of HR managers] said candidates who obtained degrees online were not viewed as favorably as job applicants with traditional degrees.
One executive was concerned about how students were graded and assessed, while another worried about the reputation of online universities and believed that online classes were generally not as challenging as traditional college courses.
Basically the article is saying that online education is great way to get a lot of people educated, but it is something that many companies are wary of due to the reputation of such online degrees.
I’d be suspicious too.
There are things you CAN learn online to some degree (computer science), but there are things you cannot (medicine and treating human beings).
I know it’s a great way to deliver learning, but it’s just all too easy for schools to scam otherwise well-meaning students who think it’ll help them obtain a job.
These students just end up paying for a piece of paper.
Online learning is fine, in conjunction with in-person training. That’s it.
Don’t think that college is the ONLY answer.
It’s the answer for many people, but it may not be the answer for you.
College-educated folks are already saturating the market to the point (some just buy their degrees) where the degree is no longer a good filter, and no longer as valuable as it once was.
College education and higher education in general is also not worth the price if you aren’t planning on using that knowledge in your job later.
Least of all, DO NOT run to graduate school or get another degree just because you have no idea what you want to do in life.
Think about what you want to do in your career, research whether an advanced degree will help you or just set you back 4 years and $100,000 in debt, and think about it.
Even Bridget agrees.
In addition, people who make it without a degree and become billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, are one in a million, even a billion.
You probably won’t make it if you think you’ll be the next Zuckerberg. More than likely, you’re not.
You’re part of the average group of folks, where 99% of us reside.
So what can you do?
Traveling to see the world and taking on jobs as you go on a visa, or learning another language can open up opportunities otherwise hidden to you.
Don’t rule out trade schools or places where you can get training and certification to do something else that doesn’t require a degree like electrician, real estate agent, massage therapy or becoming a dental assistant.
A society doesn’t only run on managers or white-collared folks working in companies. It runs on people needing services and general help in life.
You will probably save $25,000, 4 years, and end up making more than most of your college-laden folks around you.
I’ve always wondered what the benchmarks were for saving, net worth and retirement numbers by age.
It can be so hard to judge all of that, seeing as our income varies over our lifetime, and we don’t know how long we’ll live or how much we will really need.
According to Fidelity, here are some numbers they tried to pony up for us:
By age 35, your goal is to save an amount equal to your annual pay.
By 45, you will want to have saved about three times your salary, rising to five times your salary by 55.
Typical wage earners should aim to save at least eight times their final annual pay to be sure they can afford basic living expenses in retirement.
Naturally, this is assuming that you will eventually get promotions and climb that proverbial ladder to earn $75,000 by the time you’re 55 or so.
Let’s say you get a 3% raise per year as an average, and you started working at 24 for about $30,000 a year.
Here are your numbers:
35: Saved $41,527 as your net worth (1 time)
45: Saved $167,426.51 as your net worth (3 times)
55: Saved $375,012.05 as your net worth (5 times)
65: Saved $806,375.74 as your net worth (8 times)
These numbers are not terribly realistic, as not many people at 65 will reach $100,000 as their annual income, but they’re a start for people to see where they’re at.
So if I made a chart for myself, it’d look like this:
- 35: Saved $221,377
- 45: Saved $750,000
- 55: Saved $1,250,000
- 65: Saved $2,000,000
(Adjusting for: 1) I’d DEFINITELY max out at around $250,000 a year for an income, and 2) my average income has actually been around $75,000, accounting for the fact that I’ve been working 2 out of the 5 years.)
I’m on track then.
I am also aiming to save $1,000,000.
I don’t think I need $2M, and it’d be nice to have, but I’m not going to kill myself for it.
What about you? What do you want to have saved by the time you retire? Are you as freakily obsessed about having enough money at retirement as I am?
I am noticing an odd trend in my circle. It’s tiny and not indicative of all my awesome friends, but it’s enough to make me whip my head around when I hear it.
A friend I have, started pursuing an MBA so that she wouldn’t have to work in the real world any more (she worked for a year and a half.)
Before getting accepted into a college for said MBA, she took a year and a half off, and traveled on her husband’s dime around the world (with him, of course).
Then she got her MBA, and decided she really didn’t want to work.
What did she do? She got pregnant.
Yes, she seriously told me all of the above and why she has a cute little baby boy right now.
She told me she thought it would also make sense to wait a few more years as a stay-at-home mom, and either take a PhD to avoid working, or have another kid.
I had to pick my mouth up off the floor at that.
Luckily, we were talking on the phone and not Skyping, so she couldn’t see the look on my face.
BF’s friend, just recently told us that his girlfriend whom he refuses to marry (French people aren’t hot on marriage in general), is getting in vitro fertilization soon to have a baby (or two, as twins are common!).
I oohed and aaahed over having a baby (or babies), and thinking of all the wonderful things (ignoring the searing, burned-alive-pain of childbirth), a baby or two would bring for the both of them, and how great it would be for them.
I was already thinking of their future and cute moments like this one: Twin Baby Girls Rock out to their Daddy’s Guitar
He gave me a strange look and clarified that he wasn’t too chuffed at the idea of having a kid (he could do without one, he said), but she had flat out said she only wanted a baby so she could stop working.
The worst of it?
He’s actually okay with all that… although ‘resigned’ is the word I’d describe him, but for the life of me, I don’t know why he doesn’t just tell her to get out of his house where he pays for EVERYTHING, even though she works a few days a month here and there, and doesn’t spend any money except on herself.
To clarify, she hasn’t really worked her whole life, so she’s not used to it. Lame excuse, I know.
She grew up spoiled, her parents cut her off from the fortune, and she now lives on her boyfriend’s dime, and I’m fairly sure it’s to “secure” him so he doesn’t leave her, and to use the grandchild as a bargaining chip with her parents to get back into the will, all along with not having to work any longer for the rest of her life.
Women have come so far since getting the right to vote, fairer/less sexist treatment in the workplace, and then you hear of 2 bad apples who pretty much set back huge chunks of what we’ve fought for so far.
It is one thing to be a stay-at-home mom, to really enjoy it and to WANT to be a SAHM who is the head of the household and a true supportive half in the relationship.
It’s another thing altogether to state bluntly that you want to quit working forever, and having a baby is the only solution.
It’s like an Early Retirement Card that will burp, poop and cry for the first 5 years of its life, and then possibly disappoint you because you’ve heaped too much on them in terms of expectations.
Me, I am not going to quit my plum career.
I want kids, but I want my own adult life too, and I do NOT choose being a SAHM. I think I’d tear my hair out and murder Dora the Explorer in my dreams.
You heard it here first.
In the (free) newspaper 24 Hours, they posted under Your Career on Monday November 19th 2012, the occupations who really hate their jobs with data taken from Payscale.com:
Biggify by clicking on it
Even if the money is good, if the nature of the job itself is hard to deal with and not in line with your personality, it is not a good job.
Money isn’t everything!
MINIMUM WAGE SUCKS
This is the #1 reason for people hating their jobs — the money. These are the jobs I am sure where they don’t make more than minimum wage (if that):
- Fast Food Worker = 38.40%
- Bartender = 6.70% (although we should note that they get tips)
- Fashion Designer = 4.90% (could be lower; not everyone is rich & famous)
- Retail sales associate = 3.70%
Working for minimum wage will suck the life out of anyone, although we have to keep in mind it is most likely students who are working these jobs, so it is not necessarily their career.
In Canada, minimum wage is on average $10.10/hour across all provinces and territories.
That works out to $20,207.69 per year as a gross income.
In the U.S., minimum wage on average is $7.39 an hour, with the federal minimum wage set to $7.25/hour as a bare minimum.
This works out to $14,788.40 per year as a gross income, or a full $5419.29 less per year than their Canadian counterparts.
(Did I also mention there is no universal healthcare in the U.S. either, and from my own personal experience, it can cost up to $1000 – $2000 USD/month for a single person?).
BEING REQUIRED TO BE MEAN, MAKES YOU FEEL BAD
No one wants to go into their job and have to take money away from people who can’t pay their bills.
Yes, they got themselves into that credit card, line of credit MESS, but you still can’t help but feel bad for them:
- Gaming dealer = 17% (they must see a lot of desperate folks trying to strike rich)
- Loan collector = 4.90% (if any job sucks the most, it has to be this one for me)
- Senior Attorney = 4.40% (you’re fighting all the time & you have to be tough)
- Credit/Collections Supervisor = 4.10% (again, you have to take money they can’t give)
- Claims adjuster = 3.10% (can you imagine telling someone they have less money?)
It is a requirement of those above jobs to be mean to people. It’s not a nice thing when you’re trying to make a pay cheque, and people are crying, screaming or generally ALWAYS mad at you.
SUPER HIGH-STRESS JOBS THAT NEVER LET UP AREN’T HAPPY ONES
- Telemarketer = 9.40% (constantly getting the phone slammed down on you is nasty)
- TV news director = 8.10% (you get blamed for everything but credit for nothing)
- Investment banking associate = 4.60% (exactly the reason why I didn’t join banking)
- Legal assistant = 3.40% (you must get yelled at all the time to be faster by attorneys)
- Advertising account executive = 3.30% (there’s a lot of pressure to make it rain)
Dealing with problems all the time does not make you a happy person. These are jobs that are 100+ hour workweeks and don’t let up.
You’re constantly thinking about your job, and if you aren’t a workaholic, it takes a toll on you and your personal life.
In addition, some of these industries are highly competitive (including Fashion Designer, above), which makes it hard to be recognized or to gain a foothold in the job market.
There are times where my job is somewhat high stress, but it isn’t 100% of the time, which gives my brain a much needed break.
ENVIRONMENTALLY-UNFRIENDLY JOBS ARE UNDESIRABLE ONES
The last one that doesn’t fit the above is Petroleum Engineer (3.10%). It stated in the article that 75% of people would not take a job if it harmed the environment, and this is probably the main reason why.
Maybe people get mad at them because they blame them for things like BP’s 2010 Oil Spill Fiasco, and they’re just trying to make a living.
Although if we’re being honest, there aren’t that many jobs out there that are 100% ecologically-friendly.
Almost every job I can think of (including mine), harms the environment through use of technology which releases toxic chemicals into the environment, selling food that has been the result of over grazing land to grow more cows to feed the world’s insatiable appetite for meat, and a whole host of other indirect and direct threats to the environment (we all take cars, use gas or fly at some point of our lives don’t we?)
SO WHAT ARE THE BEST JOBS OUT THERE?
Obviously, the opposite of the above:
- Low stress
- Reasonable-to-High paying
- Not directly tied to harming the environment
- Jobs where you aren’t dealing with problems
- … or people aren’t yelling at you 24/7
I think most of all, the job has to be something you enjoy doing.
If you enjoy your job, no matter how much pressure or stress it puts on you, it can make a big difference, but if you hate it, it’s game over.
For instance, I love my job, but I know at least 2 out of 10 consultants who hate theirs, and we do exactly the same thing.
Money makes no difference to them other than chaining them to their current profession because they just don’t like it.
DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB? WHAT DO YOU DO?
Yes. We’re human and biologically wired to look for beauty (in everything).
Being attractive is not necessarily based on your actual looks.
It means you are dressing well, taking care of your appearance and trying your best to look good, rather than giving up completely, wearing clothes too big with holes in them, and not bothering to take care of your appearance.
Ever hear of the French term jolie laide?
It means literally “pretty + ugly” (not “pretty ugly”, as you might think of it in English), and it refers to stereotypically ugly women who are considered pretty because they make an effort.
It’s a French idea that even “ugly” women can be considered beautiful with the right clothes, makeup, proper grooming, and most of all, a good personality with a smile.
The most iconic figure for the term jolie laide (not meant to be used derogatorily), is Diana Vreeland.
Diana Vreeland was a noted columnist and editor in the field of fashion. She worked for the fashion magazines Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1965. (Via)
No one could truthfully say she is a beautiful woman with her more masculine features, but she is considered pretty because she knows how to dress and present herself at her very best.
In addition, being attractive can also work against you if you’re a woman, but not if you’re a man, mostly because women HR managers tend to penalize beautiful women for job roles out of jealousy, even if they are competent for the job.
YOU CAN MAKE MORE MONEY BY BEING ATTRACTIVE
“Investing in your appearance can grab you between 10-12 percent more than your dowdier colleagues for both men and women.”
This is what Catherine Hakim of Erotic Capital, calls the ‘beauty premium’ (a great read!!).
And Freedom 35 recently posted the following link:
According to an article from nydailynews.com:
“Handsome men earn, on average, 5 percent more than their less-attractive counterparts, while attractive women make 4 percent more.
Over the course of a good-looking man’s career, he will earn roughly $250,000 more than a comparable, yet unattractive, employee.”
Over a course of 40 years, it is about $6250 a year, or $3.12 an hour.
I will point out that there is also the fact that when you’re beautiful or handsome, you probably already know it from an early enough age (at least, before you start your career).
You know it enough to use it to your advantage, and as a result, you grow up more confident and perhaps more bold enough to ask for raises year-over-year.
Other less attractive folk may not grow up as confident in themselves, and are perhaps less likely to ask for said raises as a result.
As I always say: It doesn’t hurt to ask!!!!
HOW ANYONE CAN LOOK “ATTRACTIVE”
(Attractive by the conventional sense of ‘attractiveness’)
These are the markers of beauty in society for both men and women:
- Straight, white teeth (although very white teeth scare me)
- Clear, glowing skin with an even skin tone
- Neat and clean nails — Nothing yellow, long, or with dirt underneath them
- Lustrous well-kept hair — A modern updated haircut does wonders
- A fit and healthy figure — gives your skin a healthy glow
- Being tall (most advantageous for men)
- Wearing clothes that fit and don’t have holes or stains on them and flatter you
- Your posture is straight and healthy — No hunching!!
Notice a theme here?
Beauty has everything to do with looking and being healthy and looking neat and clean.
Eat well. Exercise. Sleep your required 8 hours a day. Smile.
For men, the above applies as a good general rule, so don’t forget that eating fruits and vegetables can really improve your looks.
For women, it also includes a little makeup (not a lot!!).
Wearing a little makeup can go a long way to making women earn more money by looking more attractive and competent – a little eyeliner, concealer and perhaps some tinted lip balm and you are good to go.