What can you do with a 5 pence? Not much I think. You can’t even buy anything with just a 10 pence nowadays. But Sharon Palazzo, a speaker of a seminar I attended yesterday, who is also the Managing Director of Managing My Career (http://www.managingmycareer.org/), managed to find a good use of a 5 pence. The topic of the seminar was “Career Plan in Five Simple Steps”.
This is the first free seminar I attended “paid” by the speaker at the end of the talk. She gave each of us a 5 pence! Whilst the nominal value is somewhat low, the meaning behind her gesture is definitely priceless! It is the main point or gist of her talk that she wants us to imprint in us after we walked out from that room. In fact, it is a very powerful and impactful small gesture left a big print in me.
So what is the message that she wants us to remember? She is using the abbreviation of 5 pence, i.e. 5 Ps. Not the 5 Ps marketing theory, but 5 Ps in career planning.
“Perfect Planning Prevent Poor Performance!”
“Planning” is not a foreign theory to most of us, we may plan our journey on a daily basis, plan what we are going to do in our job, plan what we are going to eat, plan our wedding, plan our holiday, etc. But how many of us plan our career? I planned my career based on what I don’t want to do. I use the elimination method rather than selection. For example, when I did my internship as an external auditor with one of the accounting practices, Deloitte, more than 10 years ago, I ended the internship with a conclusion that I don’t want to be an external auditor. At that point, I was already doubting myself whether Accountancy is something I want to do for life. So after graduation, instead of planning what career I want to do, I followed the usual route most of accounting graduates would do. Apply Big 5, the top five accounting practices, i.e PwC, KPMG, E&Y, Arthur Andersen (prior to the collapse) and Deloitte. I managed to secure myself in PwC, but absolutely had no idea what I was going to do. It wasn’t external audit for sure, but somehow I was mesmerised by the job nature, in particular the investigation. So I joined without any clarity what exactly the job entails. But after 1.5 years, I started to doubt myself again whether this is really something I want to do. And so I left and since, I jumped from one company to another, but never far from what my I did in my first job. That is my comfort zone.
So I never really plan my career based on what I want to do. I discard what industries I don’t want to do. There are some points that I did choose what I want to, such as international travelling in my job. But I realised I didn’t enjoy the travelling as much as I thought I like to. Perhaps age is catching up, or my priority has changed. Or maybe because I have managed to achieve this dream of travelling even prior to landing myself with such a job.
The key messages that I carried away with me yesterday after the seminar are:
a) Career planning is not just about planning what I want to do, or where I want to see myself in 5 years time. It is a process of stock-taking of what skills I have, what experience I have, what I enjoy doing or what motivates and encourages me, and where my self-satisfaction comes from. She has given us some series of thought provoking questions. Some of the questions are asked during interviews, which I normally don’t take it too seriously and answered based on the standard answers or what the interviewers may be looking to hear. In another words, I didn’t answer the question from my own perspective.
b) Writing it down will not only remind me of what I enjoy doing, but also helps me to keep track where I am and what is my next step. It is useful to avoid waking up every day and wondering what I should do for that day. And day by day basis, I am sure I will be so demotivated to wake up clueless of what my plan for the day !
c) I am on the right track. For the last few weeks, I was doubting too about this decision. I almost want to go back to my comfort zone, i.e. what I have been doing for the last 10 years. And repeat the cycle again and resign every 2 years. As I mentioned in my last post, What’s Next! , I am ashamed of myself for jumping from one job to another. Every time I reach that peak and have the urge to resign, I’ll think about the interview cycle and have to explain myself why I moved from job to another for the last 10 years, I then dreaded the thought of resigning. Yet, I suffer internally wanting to get out of the job. Surely this is not healthy for me and I channel it incorrectly to people around me. Going back to comfort zone, means that I won’t feel motivated and definitely worthless. Sharon advised us to always stretch ourselves, i.e. move out of that comfort zone, take a baby step. Just stretch yourself 10% or 20% at most. Do not chew what you can take. Do not take an elephant step. Start small, and does not always have to think of that final destination. Enjoy the scenery on the way.
d) Finally, it is ok to change career! In fact, there is a survey that on an average, there are people who have 3-4 different careers in life. Obviously the question is whether you are willing to start from scratch again. Whether you are willing to drop from earning at the top or mid-tiered salary to the rock bottom again. If you can pass this psychologically, you may even have 10 careers in life! I attended another seminar about clinical psychology as a career the other day. Whilst I know that I won’t be in that field, but I am happy to learn that one of the speakers who is doing a doctorate in clinical psychology with NHS, has done all sorts of different jobs for the last 10 years. He is a psychology undergraduate but he never really got into this field until 15 years later. He has been to South America to teach English to less fortunate children, he has been a DJ, he has done some sales and marketing job, etc. But these experiences that he has had equipped him with all sorts of skills and life experience. In fact during that talk, most of the psychologists who delivered their speech are so uptight and to a certain extent, boring, but only this speaker with different life experience have managed to crack laughter from the floor. I don’t want to be that uptight bunch of psychologists and I definitely don’t see myself being a clinical psychologist. (Note, I am considering of taking psychology course based on my interest and one of the things that I want to study when I was younger back then. I am still assessing whether I still want to do psychology.)
e) Note that in (d) above, I am again using the elimination method to choose what I want to do. Interesting enough, Sharon pointed out yesterday to avoid using any negative connotation. I.e. what I DON’T WANT to see myself to be like, because our brain will then applies the reverse psychology method. What you don’t want to see yourself in will end up seeing yourself in. For example, I don’t want to be like that person, because he/ she is miserable. So more often than not, we will be acting like that person. True or false? I am not sure, but I think the idea is to channel some positive thinking in your mind rather than negative.
f) Finally talk about your plan. Like my younger brother’s advice on my Facebook, talk about your plan. Tell people about your plan. Let people question you and then only you can realise where your plan needs more tweaking or readjustment. Preferably find a mentor who has been through what you want to go through and give you the right direction and idea. Now where to find this mentor? I am still searching.
One last thing I learnt yesterday, in fact a very valuable lesson for me is, I have not thought thoroughly of my plan. Well I have a very vague idea of what I want to do, but I haven’t started to write it down, plan in detail and thought about how to sell it or myself. I may have found some business yesterday but I blew it away because I didn’t expect to “sell” myself in that manner. Opportunity may have slipped but I am going to re-think my objective of attending networking session in the future.
Until then I will continue to refine my plan, refine my strategy and soul searching!