Archive for the ‘finding career’ Tag

Guiding My Career Choices: From Soldier to Worker

Temporarily caged?

Random Observation/Comment #242: The month-long gap of writing was a test to see how much I could get done when I didn’t write.  The answer, surprisingly, is that I didn’t do anything – well, that’s not true, but I didn’t get as much as I wanted done.  I didn’t know this before, but writing in a blog about what I’m going to do is actually the thing that starts me doing things.  I needed to read that sentence over again to make sure it was right.  Yes.  I am dependent on this writing to clear my mind of all the woes in my ever-growing mind, and basically do a core-dump of my random ideas on how to improve my life.  Without this, I just think about doing things, and I never make the first step to do them.  Knowing this, changes everything… I will address this in the next entry.

For the past 6 months, my underlying belief of this life has been challenged.  The philosophy that I had so desperately formed to make sense of this world – the guidelines that kept me under control and tied to a close-knit community – all of it was shaken by the foundation by a different perspective.  It was a perspective that I had remembered so clearly, yet since I had once looked at the world this way, I had to lean in closer to make sure my choice was right for me.

Let’s start from the beginning: I was a soldier.  I followed orders from my parents and made them proud every step of the way.  From honor societies in high school to graduating as an engineer, I always performed for that greater purpose: my parents’ pride.  All I wanted was for them to accept my strides forward and tell me I was doing a great job.  All I wanted was to see their eyes welt up with tears of joy to see their son achieve great things.

The base for all of this still holds true to my roots, but the difference is: I am no longer a soldier.  You see, my parents had graduated me from that status and told me to follow another goal.  They told me to do what makes me happy, always stay healthy, and remember the importance of community.  As a soldier taking orders for 21 years, I felt confused and lost without a path to follow.  I had perfected the act of following a path, but I had never learned how to make my own.  In fact, the goals for me all sounded strange because none of them mentioned money or success.

They didn’t want me to be a soldier, yet I knew no other path so I tried different things and always just looked back to see their reaction and approval.  Everything I did was accepted with a nod and a smile.  So… now what?  The pressure to meet expectations for reaching the best of the best had faded.  So, I did what everyone else in my situation would do: I looked at my peers to seek their advice and their opinion.  As I asked them, it seemed that my level of acceptance had shifted to another party. Now, all I wanted was their acceptance and their envy.  I wanted a level of respect from them and an overall higher status in this stratified society.

This view of life is what drives our economy.  We see shit we want because other people have them.  I can’t deny that I still don’t follow this line of thought when I see new gadgets that come out every month (I just want to pimp out my daily routine so badly!).  Yet, the things I want are actually not that expensive.  It also makes me wonder what I would do if I had everything I wanted.  I don’t think I would feel complete at all.  There would probably always be something more that I needed to complete my collection.  Plus, my neighbor would probably one-up me with that bigger screen TV and make me wonder if it were about time to get a new one.

This key idea troubled me:  I needed to make money because I wanted to buy things that I thought I needed because I was hanging around other people that made money.  Climbing the status tower is fine, but your expectations keep rising to reaching the status above you.  This vicious cycle makes me believe that one day; you’ll find yourself alone at the top.  Well, you’re either at the top, or you’re disappointed that you can’t reach the next status.  Hopefully, you’ll be happy and you’ll stop, but greed is not something you can fulfill.  The more you feed it, the more it wants and the more you’ll sacrifice to get it.

What I’ve found with wealth (in the sense of monetary wealth) is that people tend to spend money on things they don’t need.  Of course, what I think they need and what they think they need is very subjective.  Some people think they need to own three houses while living in a small studio in NYC and working 80-hour weeks to afford the mortgages: fantastic.  What I wonder is: what if I just need less?  Will that make me less ambitious?  Will I be ill-motivated to reach any higher?  Does being content make the mind stale and boring?

All of these questions formulated into a philosophy that actually fit into my parents’ new goals for me: happiness, health, and community.  So many people objectively see success by salary, the size of their estate, or the number of cars they own.  That’s so… old school.  I would think in our modern day and age, we would measure success differently.  What about overall happiness, health, and community?

Your career can be selfishly geared towards making money.  Many people do it because they associate the money with happiness.  There are some careers that sacrifice happiness in the short term in order to benefit in the long term with money or status.  You may be surprised at this next sentence: I don’t think there is anything wrong with this thinking at all.  I fully support making short term sacrifices for long term goals, but one criterion must hold true: You must believe in what you do.  If you just do it for the money, you’ll never make it.

What my parents really wanted to tell me is: Do what you’re good at and do what you love.  If this makes you happy then your career is not work.  If you constantly need a work-life balance, it means you’re trying to escape work.  If you’re learning new things everyday and you believe your sacrifice will be worth it in the end (which is also very subjective), take the risk – we’re so young.

~See Lemons Love Work

Engineering Pre-Crisis Rant

Chasing time

Chasing time

Random Observation/Comment #195: I feel like I’m always trying to stay ahead of my age. When I saw that Tony Stark video from Ironman, it made me wonder why I didn’t do all the awesome shyt that he did.  Realistically speaking, I’m not smart enough to graduate from MIT at the age of 18, and neither is 99.9999999% (I might need more 9’s) of the world, but I’d always like to think I could be that unique flower (that genius unique flower).  I don’t remember very well, but I’m pretty sure it was the elementary schools that fed me all this false hope that I would be some exception.  Whatever happened to just being normal?  I guess striving for normality seems strange, and seeing how stupid normal people are gives me some discouragement.  Anyway, it was in the second of year of college when I realized that this age barrier disappears and becomes replaced with experience and stories.  I’m not in competition with Tony Stark or even the guy sitting next to me.  We’re all just enjoying the little pleasures of life while contributing to our respective communities.  Happiness is actually quite simple.

Competition drives our economy and creates this motivation to win with better innovations and marketing plans.  I’ve always thought it was a good thing to join these contests because it promotes teamwork between students and gives each school a representation towards a common goal.  I found these projects (other than kicking ass and wrecking the competition in every event) was also about teamwork and strengthening the core of how we advance.  I always thought that “best team spirit” award was bullshyt for schools that didn’t win any other awards (and it probably was), but I think it’s actually quite important to fortify the idea that individuals, by themselves, do not change the world.  To make this place better for the generations to come, we must become a team and fall into our respective specialties.

Competition mixes nicely with motivation, but fails when it’s taken without the community and teamwork required for reaching the goal.  I originally thought that I would be against comparing people to each other and looking for the most exciting story and series of adventures, but now I feel a bit different.  Without the normal (or at least my vision of a normal life), then how would I then actively become different?  It sounds like I’m just being purposefully difficult and going against all normal activities – and in a way – I think I am.  Why not?

It seems like I’ve fallen into some Engineering pre-career crisis.  Based on the working engineers I’ve spoken to, I see this stereotypically boring engineering life style with their second lives lost in some social network.  Their 9-to-5 just sounds excruciating and I will do everything I can to prevent this from happening.  I want to mold the enjoyable aspect of engineering with the excitement in random hobbies.  I feel like I’m trying to be my own psychologist for a possible future-Clemens based on every decision I make.  It’s quite challenging figuring out how you’ll react to certain unknown environments, and maybe this over-thinking is making me hesitate that choice that will help me move forward.

Getting to know yourself is an interesting thing.  It reminds me of these theories I’ve heard about finding the right significant other.

I guess I’ve been putting so much thought into finding a career that I’ve related it to finding a spouse.  I should be dating around to see different types of personalities, but I can’t have such a long list that it just becomes disgusting (especially if you are required to show this list with your responsibilities in each relationship to your next relationship before the first date starts).  I wouldn’t want to date me if I’ve jumped from girl to girl trying to find myself and what fulfills my financial and intellectual stimulations.  What I look for in a career is complicated (almost as complicated as how I react to different types of girls).  There are obvious deal breakers and things that would make my pants come right off, but the most important part is looking for the right package.  It must be a balance of all of these things, and the perks of the career must outweigh the negatives.  For example, I could deal with a tramp-stamp (technical term) if it were above a beautiful booty (also a technical term).

If I apply the same logic with girls as I do with a career, there is one thing that I should realize.  Even though I pretend to know myself and how my ideal girl looks and behaves, there will always be something completely outside of your comfort zone that catches you off guard and sweeps you off your feet.  It sounds like some cheesy, cliché line from a chick-flick, but I think it reminds me to keep my eyes and mind open to seize the opportunities (that pass by in a mini-skirt) and just keep following the path if it keeps you happy.

Life does flash before our eyes before we die – it’s called living.  I rather spend it doing something instead of waiting for perfection that will never come.

~See Lemons Date Around

Falling Deeper

Falling Deeper