Defining your Career in 2019

Wisdom for work or business, made contemporary for changing times

Young workers and new entrepreneurs alike constantly mention the 'tough market' that we are in. They may be right: The Ministry of Manpower (of Singapore) released figures in July that showed the worst total annual employment growth since the year 2003. Meanwhile, National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU) shared in February that in a joint survey, the number of fresh graduates that secured full-time employment within 6 months of graduation dropped to 80.2 per cent, compared to 83.1 per cent in 2015.

Credit: Business Times
Find your centre in a changing world that tells you to 'hustle' blindly every day.

Houston, Do We Have A Problem?

So what should we believe? Is this the end of times? If you're reading this... is your career or business doomed to fail due to 'bad economy'?

Let me propose a concept - that there are winners in every economy, good or bad. Let's ask ourselves which camp we want to be in, the 'winners' or the 'losers', and how do we control the result?

Simple & Actionable Principles For Long-Term Success

Whether you are looking for a job or starting your own business, I see these to be true:

  1. Work to learn, not to earn. Those that are hungry and improve every day, win in the long run.
  2. Be patient. People overestimate what they can do now or in a year. They severely underestimate what they can do in a decade with discipline, dedication, smart thinking and some luck.
  3. If you follow the motions, don’t be surprised to be caught unaware. You have to start WAY WAY before you need it. Execute and learn like mad even if it means multiple internships, jobs, competitions, volunteering and side projects concurrently.
  4. Find the person who is at your success point and do WHATEVER IT TAKES to learn from, work for, reverse engineer success, even if it means approaching them when you’re scared, working for free or even paying for it. Trust me, this saves you YEARS, MONEY and HEARTACHE.
  5. Please, please, work to sharpen your craft, practically, not earn certificates and points. Those don’t matter 99% in the real world.
  6. Work with PASSION. Not pick and choose what you’re ‘passionate’ about. You want greatness, then be ready to take the s*** and responsibilities that come with it!

Simple Does NOT Mean Easy

Mythical success stories from Jack Ma (who is a famous serial failure) to Ho Kwon Ping (who was jailed twice and lived destitutely in a fishing village for several years) tell us that this is true. Anecdotally you can look around - for example a friend of mine who is a successful in-house corporate lawyer was once, homeless and sleeping in the university school store room, all while studying hard to get valedictorian, scholarships and working side jobs.

Don't fall for the hype and surface-level glam. Look deeper and understand the mechanisms, hard work and trade offs necessary to succeed in your path, because there always will be.

If you’re caught in a rut NOW, be PATIENT, and start where you are and work for the Long term. If you expect overnight recognition or pay-off, your expectations are wrong. People who started in a worse position, who are better qualified, who are hungrier than you, are putting in the grind for probably a worse immediate payoff because they have the end in mind.

In Conclusion, A Quick Reflection On 'Success'

The good news is, when you pour yourself into a life's work that is meaningful, beyond financial rewards, accolades, you also find yourself enjoying life more, surrounding yourself with good people, and sleep better at night. And ultimately, that's a life truly worth living.


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Imran Mohamad, based in Singapore
I help businesses grow online profitably with our done-for-you marketing services. Featured in Tech In Asia, Sunday Times, Sg Business Review
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