I am sitting in this new business class of Cathay on my way to San Francisco. I am heading to Portland for yet another SAMM (don’t ask what this stands for. It wastes your brain space). These seats are great for a short and tiny person like me. It is 100% claustrophobic. It has all the high tech goodies one would ever need, from a wide screen TV to a remote control with a 3 inch color LCD screen to massage chairs and Bose noise cancellation headsets. It also has in flight power supply. Oh, did I mention that the seat can lie perfectly flat, and the heavy duvet that would put you soundly and safely to sleep? Right now, I am listening to Mozert Piano Concerto No 21 in C, sipping hot coffee, and feeling on top of the world (sorry I don’t know how else to express myself).
When I first got out of college, I had goals. I had them not because I wanted to steer my life in any specific direction. I had these goals because that’s what the career office suggested. You ought to have a plan, have goals, and that you need to show the recruiter that everything had a purpose, that everything was part of the plan. Alright. Sure. And everything was part of a plan, from why I chose to go to the UK (To work on my English so then I would be better prepared for college overseas), then to the US and Michigan (US’s college system will allow me to have a much broader exposure into different subjects, unlike in the UK where the curriculum is a bit more defined the moment you get into…) …. Anyway, you get the idea. So, I had career plans too. Yea, me, just like the communist party leaders back in 1949, had 5, 10 and 15 years plans. My goals, back then, were simple. In 5 years, I would become a manager, meaning, specifically, I would start to have managerial responsibilities. And by 35, I would be responsible in managing multiple functions, and, childishly, I wanted to also make at least 100K USD or 1million HKD per year (before tax, or I didn’t really think about that back then. 100K just sounded sexy.). I never really thought about it as I progressed through my career. I never, also, really did anything to work towards these so called goals. I guess out of the 10+ years I worked, there were a few years that I was completely lost, and then I really didn’t have much to think about but to try and get a freaking job. Anyway, those goals, were for interviews, and nothing else.
Yet, today, as I am pretentiously sipping hot freshly brewed coffee (brought to you by, let me check the fancy ass menu, oh, starbucks. Argh.), I looked at these goals, and I have to be honest, I feel good. I am 33, I am a director, managing 3 functions (3 that really matters, not the mailroom, the strategic planners and HR), and I am earning more than usd100K (before tax!) a year. I have reached all my goals, 2 years ahead of schedule. So, here I, perhaps the stupidest looking and shortest and most babyface business class passenger on this flight, am now wondering about life again.
What’s next. What about the next 10 years? What am I going to do?
One thing I learned, from my last 10 years, is that I don’t really need to think too much about my career. I believe I have learned the basics of getting a job done and surviving in a corporate world (nothing to be proud of, really). Instead, I ought to think about life outside of work. Therefore, there are two really simple goals in the next 10 years of my life. One, is to build a family. I am not going to say too much about this, because I think it is easy to know what it is. I believe if I put so much effort in my work life, my family only deserves even more. My second goal, is much harder to achieve, but also very simple. I will have to do something I would consider as constructive to the world. I instinctively know what those are, and I am not going to spell them out here. It is like gender equality, or gay rights, or protecting the environment. I want this thought to stick to everything I do. I want to make sure that whatever I do or choose, I have to ask myself the question “Is what I am doing contributing anything to the world?” and then answer it honestly.
So there you go. My two goals. I don’t really care if I ever get to sit in this fancy ass slaughter house business class again. I don’t like to travel anyway, and it is completely a waste of … everything. With everything that is available nowadays to enable people to collaborate remotely, we are still flying excessively. It kills the planet everytime we fly. (No, I support sustainable living, and I am not going to hug trees.) More importantly, it gets me further away from my new goals: I am away from my family, and I don’t think this is constructive. Plus, the fucking turbulence is making me dizzy. I don’t really care if I don’t earn as much in the future. I know that I am moving up that developmental pyramid thingy that I learned in psych 101 (basically at the bottom of that pyrimad you live to look for food and sex, and at the very top you are Gandhi.). I have found my food (salary) and sex (or earthly desires), so I think it is only meaningful that I start looking for something else.
Let’s see where this leads me to. Actually, I think by now you probably realize that this is also a rally call to you to be bold and take your first baby step to do whatever you think is right. Coz I know what you believe is right, is … right (shit this is weak as hell). Oh, and to make it a bit more convincing, there are two more reasons why you should not be afraid and shouldn’t wait: One, because you are not at the bottom of that pyrimad. You are not supposed to be looking for food in your life anymore.
And two, you have me, right here, right next to you, working towards the same goals.