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Tag Archives: Working
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.
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 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.
I had initially asked for $100,000 as my bare minimum salary for the job that I would be doing, with the experience I had and my skills.
What ended up happening was a bidding war between 4 companies, which essentially bumped my salary offer up to $130,000 with the expectation that I would have $20,000 in bonuses each year.
Note: I don’t really count bonuses as part of any compensation package.
If I get it, great.
If I don’t, no tears shed.
I just focus on base salary, and that’s it.
How did I manage all of that?
I knew what my bare minimum ($100,000) was, which was below the average market rate of $115,000 for my role, and I knew I would be a candidate that none of the companies would turn down.
When asked what my salary expectations were, instead of playing that game where you try and get the other party to blink by offering a number first and then topping it, I said: My minimum base salary expectation is $100,000.
By saying that, companies should have understood the following:
- I had a minimum, and trying to lowball me below $100,000 wouldn’t fly
- I had done my research, and I knew I was worth more, but..how much more?
- They knew I would be saying the same thing to the other companies
- They knew they would have to go over my asking offer to be in the game