More than a year ago, a group of graduating business students asked me if I could deliver a talk about career planning. It was in December of 2013. The event was supposed to happen early part of 2014. So I spent most of my Christmas break preparing for that event. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. The event was rescheduled until there was a conflict with my own schedule.
Since I have the materials already prepared and I might as well be delivering it for free, I decided a long time ago to have it published here in LEAP! However, I got pre-occupied with a lot of other things and so I almost totally forgot about it. Until I found it again this morning. So here it is – the manuscript and the presentation.
This is my unsolicited advice to all the graduating students of 2015, the new members of the workforce, the “hunters” for job and for every LEAP! reader out there.
Read, Watch, Learn and Enjoy. Feel free to share and comment.
P.S. Sorry for the long post. This was supposed to be a delivered talk.
STARting it Right!
Planning Your Career and Life
(BE EXCITED) Good morning everyone! How many of you here have plans for today? can I see a raise of hands – going to the mall after this seminar, watch a movie, go for a date or how about planning you future?
You asked me to give you a talk about career planning. I opt to give you a talk about “life planning.” What career advice can I give you? I am just starting out just like many of you.
Who among you here actually planned of being in this seminar? What?! Just me? Did you know that I’ve been preparing for this talk for the past 20 days? Yes! But in my mind, I’ve been longing for this opportunity for years.
Now, let me give you another chance. Who among you are excited to be here? Who among you actually believe he or she is going to learn something new today? Okay. The numbers seem good enough. If you actually believe you are going to learn something new here, can I see a show of pen and papers?
Ok, here’s a tip. When you leave this school few months from now, when you go out there in the real world, you would need to constantly equip yourself with new knowledge, new learning. Your schooling won’t stop on your graduation day. It is just the beginning of a life-long learning. That’s why it is called “Commencement Exercise.” Commencement means beginning. And when you seek further learning, always bring pen and paper with you. You will never know when you will be able to pick a statement that might just change your life.
Tell the person to your left, “Next time, dala ka ng ballpen.” Now, tell the person to your right, “Pahinging papel.”
I was overjoyed the moment I was asked by Joanna if I can be one of your speakers. I immediately asked for the date. I looked it up and saw it’s a Friday. You know I have a job. No work, no pay, you know. But who cares. This is something I was dreaming of for a long-time. I’ve been preparing for this even before I knew I would someday be asked to give a talk. I can’t say no. So I would like to thank you all for being the instruments in making one of my dreams come true. Or as I would put it, “Gamitan lang yan.” (Smile). I hope that by the end of this day, I may be able to give a spark to your own dreams as well.
Let me tell you my own career plan. That’s CPA. SGV. Partnership. Retirement. That simple. That vague. Didn’t make sense at all. I thought I had the best career plan then. I thought it would be that easy. Just 10, 12 years in the firm and I will be partner. But to my disappointment, it was too far from the truth.
I can never over emphasize the importance of planning. And I want to commend you all for taking that initiative to learn how to plan for your future. Why? Because you have taken the first step to have a great life ahead of you. Planning. Those who never plan will be run-over by those who do. One of my former many bosses once told me, “People with no goals will step aside for those who have.”
So how do we need to plan? Hope for the best but expect the worst. So, ask your self, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Because by understanding the worst and preparing for it, you can take on anything that will come your way.
Looking at the brighter side of things is always easy. Makes us feel good and all excited. But I am not here to tell you “only” the good stuff. I am here to tell you about the reality of life. The brutal facts. So you may want to ask me now, “what are these brutal facts?” Come on, ask me.
- Job is not a career. Career is a way of life.
You can have the best job in the world but you cannot say it is your career. Career, is defined as “a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement, a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling.” Job, is something that has to be done; a regular remunerative position…”
Career talks about progression. It talks about achievements. Job is about having something done and being paid for it.
Filing documents is the job of a filing clerk, right? Organizing, securing and making documents accessible to authorized persons in a systematic fashion is the career for a filing clerk. And I tell you, no filing clerk who sees his career this way will remain as a filing clerk forever. In one of my previous companies, a former housekeeping staff rose to become one of its vice-presidents. Not because he focused on his job, but because he focused on his career.
Being the president of a company is a job. Building people, meeting the needs of the society, and being an inspiration to others is a career for leaders.
You have to know the difference, or else, you may end up planning for a job instead of a career. If you are looking forward to do something and be paid for it, you are looking for a job. If you are looking for an opportunity where you can pursue and make progressive achievements and eventually make it your calling, then you are looking for a career. So you may want to listen to this.
- You don’t have to love your job.
When Confucius said, “Find a job that you love and you will never work for a day,” he didn’t say, “do not work until you find a job that you love.” But sadly, many young people get confused by Confucius. They don’t want to work unless it is the job that they love. Remember this, you still have to work even if you don’t love your current job. Because you don’t have to love your job. It won’t love you back, in the first place.If you end up cleaning toilets, you don’t say “I love my job. I love cleaning toilets the whole day.” But you say, “I love the opportunity that I have a job which can support my temporary needs until I find the job that I love.”
- There is no job shortage.
You may have heard about the rumors that every year, there are lots of fresh graduates who couldn’t land a job. People would tell you, there is a job shortage. But it’s ALL LIES. How can there be a job shortage? If it is people who creates job, then it is simply logical that, at the very least, there will be a job for every one.
The truth is, there is shortage of people willing to get a job. We are constantly being fooled by the terms, “unemployed” “under employed” “under qualified” “over qualified” “over worked, under paid” etc.
Let me tell you a short part of my journey. Remember my career path? CPA. SGV. After passing the CPA Board Exams, my mindset was, it’s SGV or nothing. I was hired right after passing the exams. But before I was able to complete my on-boarding requirements, I felt this sudden fear of the world that’s before me. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make it out there. Besides, we’ve spent all our money during my six months of review. I got no money to start with. Have I told you that I wasn’t able to attend my oath-taking ceremony because we cannot afford to pay for it?
To cut the story short, from October to February the following year, I was “unemployed.” Not because there were no available jobs, but because I wasn’t willing to take any other job. I had offers from different companies, but those were all in Manila. Then I realized that I was becoming a burden to my parents. A C.P.A. without a J.O.B. Thinking that I could save a lot faster if my expenses would be lower, I decided to look for a job here in Baliuag. With a pay half of what I could get had I worked in Manila, I accepted an offer and became a New Accounts clerk in a bank. Now, that’s what you would call “under employed.” And true enough, I was able to save faster. So after two months, I quit my job. Again, I went unemployed, but this time I now have the courage to venture in the scary jungle of the big city. After two months, I finally got the job that I dreamed of. I was again hired by SGV. Now, that was the start of the phase of being overworked but underpaid.
- It’s a jungle out there.
The “employment world” is a terrible world. It’s like a jungle. There are lions who always keep an eye on their prey. Ever ready to devour the meek and the weak. One sign of weakness and they will eat you alive. They are the ones who love to powerplay.
Then there are the snakes, the cunning ones. They will trick you to do every thing and takes the credit for it. They constantly look for your vulnerabilities, your being naive, and then play you with their tricks. Watch out for them for they make no sound even when they are very near.
Then there are the rabbits. Comforting, friendly, nice and cheerful. They love to be with you and will make you feel appreciated in every single way. But when the going gets tough, they will be the first to run and hide in their rabbit holes.
Oh, there are monkeys too. They just hang around there, making others laugh with their antics and humor. They are often the noisy and the loud ones. But other than their tricks, they are just part of the big jungle craze.
Then there you are, a young eagle about to venture into the world. This will be the first time you will step-out of your nest, your comfort zone. How is it gonna be? Will you let your self fall to the ground and be preyed upon by the mighty lions? Will you be too naive to be tricked by the snakes? Will you be too comfortable to be with the rabbits even if you know you will be left all alone when the going gets tough? Or will you be fooled by the monkey to just wander through your days?
I know what you want. I know you want to spread your wings and fly far and high. I know you are willing to do whatever it takes to soar beyond the clouds – far from the reach of the predators, away from the tricks of the manipulative and fools. That’s why you are here. That’s why you want to learn how to plan your careers. That’s why you want to STARt it Right.
To be able to start it right, you have to be a STAR. Yes, a STAR!
S – SET your goals
T – TIME each accomplishment
A – ACT on it everyday
R – REVIEW and revise, if needed
- Set your goals
You may have heard this a thousand times before, but hearing without doing is a waste of time. Set your goals that are anchored to who you are and what matters to you the most.
Your goal should be your own goal. Is it your own goal or is it someone else’s goal being imposed upon you? A lot of people set their goals on to something other people wanted them to do or have. “Anak mag doctor ka. Anak mag abogado ka. Anak mag teacher ka. Anak mag accountant ka.” Maybe it is because these people only wanted what’s best for us. But is it really the best for us?
Or even worse, many of us let other people set goals for us, as if we don’t have a choice. “Mag do-doktor ka sa ayaw at sa gusto mo. Mag aabogado ka o mawawalan ka ng mana.” Now, that sounds like a telenovela but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Ask yourselves. Who among you took up his or her course because that is what you wanted? Then good for you. But do you know what waits for you on the other side? What’s there for you after you received your diplomas?
Many of us set goals this way: finish college, find a job, get married, have children, retire. And in between, work, work, work. If that is your goal, then change it. Scrap that. Because you failed miserably. But it’s okay. At least you have something to start with.
To set your goal, you have to find your purpose. What’s your purpose in life? Why are you here? What is your heart telling you to do? It may not be the most noble thing to do like to bring world peace, to end hunger, or to discover the fountain of youth. Your purpose is the inner most desire of your heart that will keep on burning no matter how much you try to suppressed it. Find your biggest “WHY.” Why do you wan to succeed? To help your family. To support your aging parents. To provide for your siblings schooling. To provide a luxurious life for your future family. Whatever it is, it’s got to be the fuel to your passion.
Your career is not your PURPOSE. My ex-girlfriend, now my wife, taught me this: Your career is not your purpose in life. It is just a mean to an end. It is a path on which you will travel through life to meet your divine appointment. Who knows, your career might not even be to become an employee all your life.
I wonder why you even need me here. You know how to set goals. SMART right? Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Time-bound. I am here to tell you that being SMART isn’t enough.
- TIME each accomplishment.
We all know that goals need to be time-bound. But what time? Look at this figure (slide). You will see that it is a cycle. That’s because career as we’ve mentioned earlier is a continuous pursuit of progressive achievements. It never ends. People telling you it has an end, like, the “end of my career” “end of your career” “end of his or her career” is telling a lie. What ends is his or her job. But to a career person, it just never ends. It simply shifts.
When you set your goal, set specific time for each accomplishments – for each phase – not just the ultimate end.
Question: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, right? Same with your goal. Chunk it into bite sizes. Piece by piece. You cannot set a career goal with a 20-year timeline and then do the evaluation at the end of the 20th year. It doesn’t make sense. What if at the end of the 20th year you realized it doesn’t suit your purpose at all? What a waste of time.
Look at your college days. You don’t take your exam at the end of your 4th year. Four years are divided into eight semester, each semester is divided by four or three exams, each examination is even divided by several quizzes. Imagine taking just a single exam for all your lessons in the past four years. How many do you think would pass?
When you create your career plan, set specific time line for each phase. How long will it take you to set it up? What is your timeline until the next cut-off to evaluate your progress – six months, one year, two years? When will you do the review and evaluation of your career plans? How long will it take you to revise it if necessary?
Give your self at least two years in whatever you do, if you are not growing, change it. Not necessarily your job, but whatever it is that you are doing. Because it is not helping.
- ACT on it everyday.
I know a lot of people who would say, “I want to be this or that.” Or “I want to have this or that.” But they never do anything about it.
You cannot go to the soil and say, give me flowers or give me fruits or give me grains. That’s not the way it is. You have to bring a seed with you, dig the soil, place it there, water it, protect it from the weeds and the bugs and take care of it until it grows and bear fruits.
The same is true with your career.
You have to act on it single everyday.
Seek and Knock as well.
You know what, if you are desperate enough to get what you want, you will start believing everything that other people will tell you even if it doesn’t make sense. There are people out there that will tell you how blessed you are and that all you need to do is ask and the universe will conspire to give anything you want. They would even quote the Bible to fool you. They would say, “ask and you shall receive.” Sad thing is, they deliberately drop the next line which says, “SeeK” and “Knock.” These are action words. Seek and Knock tells us to Act not just ask.
Accumulate competence, not years.
I’ve met people who used to say, “oh, it will just took you two years to get promoted. You will get that promotion if you will just stay long enough.” And I believed them. But life doesn’t work that way. It is not the years that you accumulate, it is the skills and the competence. And you don’t accumulate skills by sitting all day long wishing time would fly. You accumulate skills by being better at what you do, every single day. In short, I wasn’t promoted after two years. (smile).
When you wake in the morning, ask yourself, how can I make my work better today? Because your career is your responsibility. You will hear or even get hired by companies that provide constant trainings to their employees. But those training are not without a price. You are expected to perform better after that so that these companies can recover what they’ve spent on you. I know of people who cannot leave their current jobs because they have training bonds which they will have to pay if they leave before their agreement with the company expires. But nonetheless, make use and take advantage of these trainings.
Career seldom exceeds personal development. You have to keep on developing your skills and competence because it is not your company’s responsibility. It is your responsibility. You should strive to increase your “employability” rather than your “employment mentality.” Employment mentality will tell you that you should be employed all your life. Employability means you can be employed anywhere, anytime. It means not being worried about being unemployed because you have the skill sets that every employer would want from their employees.
If you want to keep growing, invest in your self. Read books, attend seminars, join in discussions and conferences, seek mentors. You will never regret every centavo you will spend in harnessing your potential. If you will just grow yourself 1% better everyday, you will be 30% better after a month. Just let your efforts compound.
Soft skills are hard skills. You may have heard of soft skills already, but not so many people, especially the ones who are in the workplace, are interested on it. They think it is just a waste of time. But let me tell you this: you can easily solve for “x” in an algebraic expression, but you can never truly find the meaning of a handshake.
Soft skills matter. You may be the editor-in-chief of the college newsletter but when you go into the workplace, how competent are you in delivering your presentation materials. How good is your public speaking skills? You may be very good when it comes to oral recitation, but how good are you in making negotiations with other people.
You may be the most beautiful person in this room, but do you know how to dress appropriately for different corporate functions? How’s the tone of your voice when you talk to your superiors, to your subordinates, to the janitors, to the guards…? These people matter in your organization, how do you deal with them? Never ignore the power of the unspoken words.
- REVIEW and revise, if needed.
What would you do if you cannot achieve that which you want? Will you keep on doing things that don’t work or will you just change your goal? The direction of the wind has nothing to do with the direction of the boat, it is all in the sail.
More often than not, when we seemed not to get what wanted, instead of evaluating our actions we just change our goals. Instead of pursuing our big dreams, we just shrink it to fit the image we created of ourselves.
When things don’t go the way they should, then it’s time to review what you’ve done. Here is where good planning and execution would come in. If you have carefully thought your actions and laid out your plans carefully, then it would be easy for you to determine which of your action steps are working and which are not. Then you can revise if necessary. Normally, it is the action step that needs to be revised and not the goal.
If you will keep on changing goals that you were not able to achieve, you will end up with nothing but empty basket of start-ups with zero accomplishments.
Use a journal to track your action steps. Let me tell you something that I didn’t do when I started but wish that I did. Buy and USE a planner. It will be one of your best investments. But of course, you have to use it everyday. “What you cannot measure you cannot control.” And “If it is not written, it is not done.” These are the words the I’ve learned when I first did my audit field work. I never thought it could be useful in life as well.
So, there you have it, STAR.
S – SET your goals
T – TIME each accomplishment
A – ACT on it everyday
R – REVIEW and revise, if needed
In any aspect of our lives, especially in achieving our dreams and goals, I always say, you have to follow the steps: BE. DO. HAVE.
First, you have to BE the best that you can ever be. Then you need to DO the best that you can. Only by being and doing the best, you will HAVE the best. If you try to do it in reverse, you will end up in frustrations and disappointments.
Here’s a word of caution: If you fail to follow the BE – DO – HAVE approach. You might end up with a very high expectation of the world but when you see the reality – your skill sets, your competence, your acquired knowledge, your inherent abilities – you may end up being disappointed. So before that happens, before you “Ask” to HAVE the Best. Be the best first, then Do your very best.
T – to Complete your START
Oh, before I end, let me share with you this last slide. If there’s something I would want to leave you with today, it is this.
You can be a STAR. You can have the best career plan there is, but without “T” how would your STAR even become a START?
In everything that you do, from identifying your purpose, to laying out your best plans, to evaluating and revising, you need to Trust GOD for the outcome.
We can only do so much. It’s all for GOD to decide how it will turn-out to be.
“Trust in the LORD with all you heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. (Prov. 3:5-8)
God bless you! and See YOU at the TOP.
STARting it Right_LEAP101