What’s next after what’s next?

Since I have written my first blog on what’s next after I have resigned and now in unemployment, I have been searching and searching. I did search externally by attending few talks and trying to find out what or more importantly how I could find my next moves. I have attended a career planning seminar, which I have also written about it on my blog (, an entrepreneurs networking session, a career fair which targeted at women and moms, etc. Mind you, all of these were free events and I didn’t have to pay a penny, except my transportations and coffee.

I also borrowed a lot of books from my local library and did a lot of research online, reading etc. A lot of these provide good advises, practical but definitely require a lot of actions. When I resigned from my last job, I gave an excuse of wanting to pursuing study. Well not quite an excuse since it did hold to a certain extent the truth of my intentions. What do I want to study? Where do I want to study? These are the few questions my last boss asked me. I told him proudly “Psychology” but not quite decided where to study. I told him I needed to do more research. I want to do something completely different to what I have done for the last 10 years.

But why Psychology? Do you want to work with people with mental problems?

Not quite exactly what I intended to do. Obviously when I declared that I wanted to study psychology, I thought I knew about the profession. The fact is I didn’t. I have no idea what exactly how the career world is like for those who have done psychology.

So I started to research. Of course the first step would be the universities. It was a pure intention to enrolling to courses, Master degree as I don’t wish to waste any more time to start all over again. But all Master courses require a foundation degree or diploma in Psychology. I don’t have any of those.

So I took myself back on the journey of how I started to become an Internal Auditor without following through the traditional route, i.e. doing a Chartered Accountant. I still survived today in this profession although not without any hardships.

I went to a talk organised by The Institute of Internal Auditor in Malaysia one evening after work when I was still working in PwC in Malaysia. That talk changed my life indeed as I was determined to enrol and take the Certified in Internal Auditor exam. Is that a short cut for me? Maybe but more importantly I always like to be different or to be the minority. So in this psychology route, I was wondering whether I could do something similar?

I looked at the syllabus of the psychology courses offered in most major universities in the UK. To be honest after reading the content, I was less motivated to study Psychology. It sounded boring to me and I did wonder whether I really want to study that? I wasn’t sure, in particular when I was told that I have to either spend 3 -4 years in Bachelor’s degree in order to gain an entry to the Master degree. I am not young anymore and definitely not prepared to be out of job for so long. Then to my aghast, I have to spend another 3 years in order to be able to gain myself into that uptight psychology profession. Do I want to do that?

I went to a “Clinical Psychology” talk in March without knowing what exactly the talk was about. In a way, it was similar to the Internal Audit talk I went to many years ago, which helped me to decide to go into that route. However this talk was different. It didn’t quite have the same impact on me. It was in fact on the contrary, I wanted to get out of the room almost immediately. The presenters were from NHS working as a clinical psychologist. Whilst their work is undeniably demand respect, they are to me somewhat uptight. And I really can’t envision myself being one.

There was only one clinical psychologist to-be who has all the charms a normal human being have. That was because he has had more than 10 years of odd jobs life experience. He decided to try himself out in clinical psychology eventually. He graduated with Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology but decided to do something different apart from the psychologists route. He has a breadth of life experience, facing and dealing with people of which he must have acquired some other soft skills that other conventional psychologists don’t have. Then again, I don’t know anyone who works in that field. So I can’t quite conclude that psychologists lack the normal human nature. Would they?

I wonder if psychologists will view all human beings as a subject of study? I think if I am one of them, I would. Would I then lost that normal human touch? The normal human interaction without passing any judgments consciously or sub-consciously? Then again, even when I am not one, I am a very judgemental person and I would boxed people up in different categories. So I guess it is not to do with the profession, but more so of my own restrictive knowledge of human mind and mental and behaviour.

Now after having done some research of psychology discipline, from what I thought I know about to a confucious state of mind due to the number of schools of thoughts to different associations in the UK market, abd to varying degrees of specialisation, I can only conclude now that I am ever more confused than before the research. I wonder if it is me who is just being so green in this field or that discipline itself is so diverse that opens to interpretation and practices? Do I want to be in that field that I couldn’t even understand to begin with?

So I am back to the basic question. Why do I want to study Psychology? Can I really work as a psychologist? There are a lot of not so glamourous about this profession and practice. Can I afford to do that?

Why do I want to study psychology?

The first thing I thought about was I wanted to understand human and in that process I can only do so if I study the discipline and the subject. But most importantly I want to help people to solve their problems. Or could I? I don’t aspire to work with those with serious mental illness. I guess I only want to work with people with mental health problem. It is a big difference as mental health problems, to my limited knowledge, are what we are facing in our normal life, i.e. stress given either by ourselves, society or perceived demands. I could be having mental health problems and so is anyone around us.

But I am more interested in helping people to unleash their potentials and optimise it. That brings me to career counseling. I do enjoy doing that. When my friend and I were choosing for our universities and programmes many years ago, I knew instantly what I wanted to do or where to do it, with the restrictions I have. I managed to decide that on my own and on top of that, helped my friend or rather pushed my friend to go for her opportunity to study abroad. That gave me a sense of satisfaction as  if she was living my dream of studying abroad.

Then later in my breathing years, I also helped another newly acquainted friend to steer his direction of study and eventually choice of career. I did so by the combination my observation and analysis of his personality, behaviour, thinking method, etc. He is now doing that and fingers crossed that I have given the right advice.

So what gave me the nerves to do that? I have no idea but just pure gut feeling. So I must be either good in this or people just basically need some push in order to pursue what they think they want or they really want to pursue.

But is that really what I want to do then? I don’t know but that sense of satisfaction is definitely there.

I bought a book “Jung” many moons ago and only  now I have the will to read the book. It is about Carl Jung, his early days in the profession, his relationship with Sigmund Freud, etc. More interestingly, I could associate with him or more specifically he had done something what I am doing now. No surprise as he was in the psychology field, you may think. But what I didn’t know was when he was in his late 30s, he had withdrawn himself from the world to do some internal search. Exactly what I am doing now. Mid life crisis he labelled that. Not so much of because of menopause, or because of old age. More so of what exactly my life is about.

He explored his own unconscious mind, through his dreams and fantasies. So I am following this now. All of sudden, I realised that it wasn’t a change of career that I am looking for to satisfy my own self existence. It is searching internally, what exactly am I looking for in a broader context. What does my “mask” tell me about me or what is my “persona”, my animus, my partner choice of me as his spouse, etc.

The journey of within continues……

Categories: Career, Life, Mind | Leave a comment

What is your thinking style?

I am reading a book entitled “The Thinking Person’s Guide to Happiness” by Ruth Searle. One of the chapters is “Discover your personal thinking style”. When we are referring to the thinking style, it is more often than not associated with whether you are a left- or right-brainer. From young up until now, I am fairly certain I am a left-brain thinker, i.e. my thinking process is more on “the logical, sequential, linear and rational, organised, verbal expression, writing, and reading” style. I always like to expand my right-brain as well, i.e. to become more creative, intuitive, abstract, random, feelings, etc, because I am dead certain I am not much of a right brainer person. But at least I know I have brain!

In the book, there is a test to help the readers to ascertain if you are a right- or left-brainer . 20 sets of words or statements are listed and all you have to do is to choose which best describe yourself. I chose based on what I thought I am and surprise, surprise! The test results actually indicated I am predominantly a right-brain thinker! How bizarre. Here is the 10 2 sets of words/ statements, and choose which one best describes you.

Q1: A) Studying/ Reading B) Warm

I chose (A) – Column 1

Q2 A) Imaginative B) Analytical

I chose (B) – Column 1

Q3 A) Sensitive B) Precise

I chose (A) – Column 2

Q4 A) Feeling B) Speaking

I chose (A) – Column 2

Q5 A) Science B) Intuition

I chose (B) – Column 2

Q6 A) Factual B) Arts

I chose (A) – Column 1

Q7 A) Untidy B) Organised

I chose (A) – Column 2

Q8 A) Numbers B) Thinking

I chose (B) – Column 2

Q9 A) Creative B) Cool

I chose (B) – Column 1

Q10 A) Competitive B) Spontaneous

I chose (B) – Column 2

I have 6 column 2 and 4 column 1. (There are only 2 columns, so if your answers differ from mine, then yours will be on the opposite column). With higher total in column 2, this indicates I am predominantly a right-brain thinker, random, creative, and intuitive. Although it is just by 60/40 mark, the result definitely gave me a big question of how much do I know myself. Before taking the test, I thought it would have been a 90/10 or 80/20 mark, which both would have indicated I am a predominantly left-brain thinker.

So maybe I should start working on my left-brain to make my brain more balance? Or should I continue to work on the right-brain to strengthen my skills? Ironically I thought I have been working in a profession which requires more of a left-brain than right-brain thinking.

I am so confused now! Is this why I always self-doubt my performance at work? Should that be the case, I have been working my left-brain for the last 10 years. I do hate numbers although ironically I study accounting. Again, it was a wrong decision to do that, and I definitely think the career choice back in my schooling days weren’t great. They always associate an accounting profession with mathematics or solving problems. Let me stress that it is not the case! In fact accounting has nothing to do with the fact that you can calculate well. You can add, subtract, multiply or divide. You just have to know how to punch the calculator or computer in order to get the equations. Interest in mathematics or statistics does not mean you have interest in accounts! And I don’t deal with numbers! Why I like math is because the logic, the equations, the fact that if I can solve a problem that gives me a hyper level satisfaction! Whereas accounting, you can only do so if you manage to balance the balance sheet or trial balance. Both does not require any problem solving skills, but you just have to be conscious what has gone into the debit or credit. It is a balancing act, and to a certain extent, creativity! Ok, creative accounting is not quite encouraged from auditing or perhaps legal point of view. So I wouldn’t go into details anymore and in fact, I have diverted the topic.

Back to the thinking style. In the book, there is another table to suggest how to develop left- or right brain once you have identified with the 10 of 2 sets of words or statements earlier. So for me, I should be developing my left-brain more by doing the following activities:

a) Keep a diary of my daily activities and organise my week 

Ok, I don’t really keep a diary of my daily activities and organise my week. Well I like to be a bit more free – (Ok, it is the first indication of me being a non-left brainer) 

b) Read newspaper and factual books

I do read factual books and newspaper. In fact I have lost interest on fiction novels now. – so that is one tick! 

c) Put together a speech or presentation on my favourite subject

Public speaking?? That makes me legs jelly! 

d) Organise your finances on a computer spreadsheet 

Ok, I am an accounting undergraduate, but I hate to manage finance. I have my own “finance manager” at home, so I wouldn’t need to do that myself!  

e) Make a list of items you need in order to redecorate a room, or a list of plants you would put in the garden

I may do this if I have my own house later. Would I make a list? Erm…maybe not. I think I would just see what decorative items are easy to clean but pretty at the same time. Why would I want to put a list of what I need to decorate the house? And plants?.. ermm… 

Right I should be doing these if I want to develop my left-brain! Keep that in mind. 

f) Make a “Mind Map” of your goals and plans and list ways you would achieve them 

Yup I was supposed to do that too after attended the career planning seminar. I started to scribble something, well, not quite finish yet. Mind mapping may be a good way to continue it. At least that is more fun than just answering the questions. Well those are thoughts provoking questions but I just haven’t had the quiet moment to do that yet. Quiet internally. 

g) Write a list of all the new experiences in life you want to try out 

I like this exercise. I could be listing all sorts of experiences that I like to try out. In fact, I have been doing that, well not quite writing it down but thinking about doing it. But whether I have done- or will do it or not, that is another set of questions! (Why can’t I commit??!!!) 

h) Go to the library and explore the internet to find out as much as you can about an interesting new hobby 

Surely I can do it at home? I have internet at home. Sorry, I think the key words are “new hobby” and not where I do the research. Ok, I will think of a new hobby later on. Then again, I did pick up a new hobby 2-3 years ago, i.e. photography and purchased 1 DLSR camera (well 2 actually as the first one was stolen). So how is that going to help with the left-brain activity? Where is the element that is going to help me to develop my left-brain? In fact when I started this hobby, I thought it is a good way for me to expand my right-brain as it requires creativity and artistic eyes to certain extent in order to capture that beautiful moment. In fact, I felt it is a powerful tool for me to express my creativity. It may not be to the professional standard, but I do feel satisfied with the results. And I insist on not “photoshop” them as it will not be “natural” anymore. I may do some colour adjustments to enhance it but will definitely not anything more than than. 

i) Write plans and lists of things to do every day 

I again have some vague idea of what I want to do every day especially this time of my life. Waking up clueless of what I am going to do for the day is suffering. So before I went to bed yesterday, I thought about what I want to do today. Which I did, just haven’t started yet. It is only mid-day and I should be doing it later. 

There you go the whole long list of to-do to develop my left-brain. My reactions to each of the activity did somehow indicate I am a right-brain thinker. How stupid am I?  So let’s look at what activities to develop the right-brain and whether I have the same reaction I had with the left-brain thinker activities.

1) Keep a diary of your feelings 

That is quite accurate. I would rather write about my feelings than what my daily activities are. 

2) Write a short story and read more fiction

I love writing short story, although not quite successful, as I don’t have good juicy stories or ways to play with words. I always think that will be a good read if my vocabulary is better. And I have been reading fictions since young although as I mentioned earlier, I prefer to read non-fiction now. How ignorant am I not to realise that this actually indicates I am a right-brainer?!! 

3) Learn to paint and draw

When I was young, I did take up art classes, although only lasted for a month or less. In fact, I hate art classes in school. I didn’t quite enjoy painting or drawing as I think I don’t have the talent. I would love to draw though. I remember when I was young and free, I would take a poster of my idol, Tony Leung and drew his portrait with pencil. I thought I did quite well. But I don’t know where that drawing is anymore. 

4) Make something with clay

Ok, I haven’t tried this one before. But then again, I did want to make something out of plasticine but it always left my hands with oil or sticky feeling. I guess plasticine in my era wasn’t as good as what it is now. I am quite amazed with the play doh nowadays. Very creative. 

5) Redesign a room in your house or your garden

Similar to (5) in right-brainer activities, I would do so when I have my own house. I do day-dream what kitchen I like to have. With an island in the middle of the kitchen and a big work top so that I can do whatever cooking there. What colour I like? Doesn’t matter as long as easy to clean. Which means I wouldn’t want my stove to be near the wall at all!

6) Make a “Mind Map” of your feelings  about your life and how you would feel if you changed things

Again this is something I always do although not necessarily “mind mapping”. Just thinking abstractly but never really put things in place. 

7) Write a story of yourself and your life and what you want to achieve

I have written a few postings here already!

8) Visualise yourself doing something new and exciting

I am always doing it. Again, I only visualise but never really got to doing it. 

9) Daydream more often

Right, day dreaming! I don’t know if I realise I do that or not. I do think that I don’t day dream too much. Maybe I should. Hmm… 

Right, after having done this last exercise, I think I am indeed a left-brain thinker than a right-brain thinker than I always thought I was. Very interesting exercise! (I wonder this exercise would help me to develop my right brain).

And I wonder if that could help me to steer my future direction, regardless in my current profession or in a completely different profession? I hope I can figure out very soon!

Categories: Career, Life, Thinking Style | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

What can you do with a 5-pence?

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 (, 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!

Categories: Career, Life | 2 Comments

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