I chose a career in Engineering, but unlike most engineers, I never had a passion for understanding how a machine works or found joy in disassembling things and putting them back together. I was also one of those students in high school that didn’t know exactly which career they should pick to build a successful future.
I preferred a career that involved more math than science, because I hated memorizing scientific terms. But my report cards showed that I had better marks in science than math. This was confusing for me when deciding which career I should go with. Go with what I’m better at? Or go with what I wanted?
I wasn’t sure exactly which field of Engineering I wanted to get into, but I knew I had to pick a field that would allow me to make money as soon as possible.
That thought made me feel a little corrupted. It was against the belief I had way back when I was a kid: Money is the root of all evil. Greed is what destroys a person’s life. That belief was also reinforced by the TV shows and movies I’d seen when I was growing up—where the rich take advantage of the poor.
It wasn’t all about the money. There was more to life than money. But then why was it that everyone else around me (rich and poor) went out of their way to acquire it? Again, I was confused.
I ended up doing a paid internship in college. Because the thought of making money while learning was like gold to me (I was hungry for that money).
I grew up believing that the reason why my parents wanted me to do good in school was so I could get good education, get a good job, make good money, and then use that money to experience a life that was better than theirs. I believed that, the more money I had, the better my life would be.
But that skewed belief was changed when I left a company that offered good pay, good work benefits, job security and less stress. Working for that company made me feel like I hit the jackpot in the career lottery. But I ended up leaving because the lack of career growth slowly tortured my enthusiasm to work. Boredom became the enemy I had to face every single day. Most people claimed that leaving that company was a stupid decision. I didn’t care. If I stayed, I would’ve never understood exactly what other people meant by it’s not always about the money.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against making money. In fact, I wanted to make more money. The realization I had led me to another idea on how to attract more money:
- Learn as many skills as I can.
- Acquire as much knowledge as I can from people who are better than me.
- Apply the knowledge and skills I acquired.
By doing those three things, I could increase my value as an individual and as an employee. But that strategy took a lot of time and effort. Most people want instant results—I do too, but that never actually happens.
It would be nice if I could fast-forward in time to when I have already acquired all the skills and knowledge I need to get paid more. Working my way up the company ladder was an option, but that would take a long time and competition is often high. To hack my way into learning more skills in a shorter amount of time, I decided to jump from one company to another.
To expedite my progress, I consumed books on personal development. One that inspired me to focus more on learning (instead of focusing on money) was the book, Mastery by Robert Greene. The book showed the different ways to become a master at ‘some unique profession.’ This ‘unique profession’ is typically a combination of the skills, knowledge and experience we acquired throughout our life. But figuring out that unique profession is not an easy task. It requires a lot of time and self-reflection.
That is one of my current goals in life, to figure out what I’m really good at. I continue to learn and evolve as I continue the career path I’m on right now. Since it’s a continuous evolution of career, perhaps I’ll never find out what that something really is—it’s a never-ending task.
But if I do find whatever that something is, I can stand out from the crowd of other experts. How? I’m unique, which means I don’t have competition. It makes it easier for me to find another job. That is another way of creating my own Employment Insurance. Losing a job is not going to be a problem anymore, because I’m confident enough to find another job easily. That’s the goal at least. I’m not there yet.
I got laid off from a company I loved to work at before. Before that, I worked for four other companies where I learned different skills. That helped me craft a good resume. I know it’s good, because I was only unemployed for a month. I didn’t even get to receive money from the government’s employment insurance.
Within that month I had two job offers: One was with a large company with organized management, a good salary, and good work-benefits, but was low on learning opportunities. The other was a start-up company where pay was a little less and had “okay” work benefits, but was very high on learning opportunities.
Was it luck? Did my resume really look that good? Maybe those companies were desperate? I don’t know the answer to all of those questions, but the point is—I found a job in a short amount of time. I ended up working for the start-up company.
Making money is still a priority, but my new mindset made me realize that the money can come later. Money is not the end goal anymore. Money will come simply as a ‘reward on the side’—a ‘side effect’ of my pursuit of continuous learning.