You would probably be lying if I were to tell you that you assumed that your job isn’t bringing out the best in you. You feel almost enslaved during your working hours. Every day 9-5 you dream about getting a permanent off. You work so hard, yet you get paid so little, something between 30-40k.
If you can relate to what I’ve just mentioned, here’s something for you. Here it goes:
At age 22, I was managing my family’s Chinese restaurant in Boston. I just graduated from a fancy preppy college, and as my internships proved, I hated finance and any type of job-related to sitting in front of a computer screen working with Excel and analyzing meaningless data, while earning anywhere from 35k-50k.
In other words, I had no idea what to do with my life.
At the same time, my family was going through a tough time and needed me to run our family’s Chinese restaurant while they all took a gap year to pursue various business matters. I had to hold down the fort and I was not happy about it although it did give more time to find myself.
While I was lost in this limbo land, working for free for my family in a job I had no passion for, I knew that life had to be more than this. I started reading motivational and self-help books. Zig Ziglar was the first author who gave me hope. Steve Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was another book that worked wonders. I also started renting out our house’s rooms to Craigslist tenants, which foreshadowed my real estate ventures later in my life.
In those days, although I had to work 7 days a week for 8 months straight, I got an opportunity to manage the company and employees, thus I learned so many valuable skills that year including:
(1) People skills, customer service, patience, persuasion, emotional intelligence, and management skills. I had to manage people double my age, and continued to learn valuable human interaction, communication skills while I also managed our customers, vendors, marketing strategy, operations, and employees.
(2) Always stop to smell the roses – appreciate what you have and the people around you. Although by all accounts, I was doing something so unimpressive compared to my i-banking classmates, I still managed to boost my own morale and continue building my self-worth and confidence. I tried to continue doing the normal things a 22-year-old should be doing despite my crazy work schedule, like going out with my friends.
Sure, I smelled faintly of Chinese food, and everyone had to meet me at the restaurant while I got changed into party gear, but we always had a grand old time! None of my friends thought less of me because I didn’t have a fancy corporate job, and I made many new friendships that I still cherish today.
(3) Don’t be bitter about anything. Realize that you could have done things differently if you had the confidence within yourself. You’re not the victim. You actively chose whatever decision you took, no one else forced you at gunpoint.
I was always an avid singer and I won a chance to go to China for a special American-Idol equivalent contest, but unfortunately, couldn’t go because I chose not to abandon our family business; there was no one else who could help me manage the business while I go off trying my hand at stardom.
At the time, I felt so bitter, so mis-used, mistreated, and wronged by my family’s pressure and reliance on me to run the restaurant.
If it weren’t for them, I’d be famous already! Or at least would have a shot! The truth is, I realized that I never had the confidence to become a professional singer despite it being my favorite hobby and passion. My inability to join the contest was actually my own choice. I could have bought a ticket and abandoned my family if I truly believed I had what it took to be a famous pop star in China.
Ultimately, I decided not to do it. So it’s not their fault; it was my decision. My family felt guilty and I regret being angry at them when I should have directed the blame towards myself. Self-victimization is the worst way to treat yourself and others; it’s a delusion that negatively impacts your mindset and relationships with others.
Ultimately, year 22 helped me achieve freedom from self-judgment and self-deprecation.
I stopped putting myself down by comparing myself to others. I was doing the best for my family. I shouldn’t be ashamed of it! Even though I was not in a job other people would be impressed by, I was doing the right thing for my family.
I finally had a year to think by myself for myself what my strengths are which I discovered were PEOPLE skills. I didn’t even know it at the time, but my hospitality experience developed my people skills by leaps and bounds.
Furthermore, the books I read gave me confidence that if others can do it, I can too. Therefore, from ages 23 – 28, I jumped into the world of sales, becoming a top billing headhunter, who then learned about real estate, became a landlord, and early this year, I quit my corporate job due to my financial security through careful financial planning.
By age 28, I was able to retire off of my successful career and investments.
I live in an apartment in Brooklyn with roommates who help offset my rental costs. I now work to spread the knowledge I learned to help others achieve financial freedom through a career in sales, successful investing, and believing in yourself.
Nowadays, I work every day like I used to, but now it’s for my own business, on my time schedule. I write, teach, do motivational speaking, and coach others on the DANDAN Method to job search. I hire my own business partners and contractors I’m working with as I’m building my business.
All I can say is that the future is bright. Believe it, and bring your sunglasses along for the ride.
Also published on Medium.