Getting Your Life On Track: Avoiding Regrets & Missed Opportunities

choosing a career

There come many moments in one’s life when he inevitably compares his own accomplishments.  Some of these moments occur while he is yet young but the ones that affect him or her most profoundly are those in the slightly later years, which could be between their mid- to late thirties until their fifties or even beyond. We inevitably compare ourselves to our peers.  This is human nature.  What we all have to take into account is that things happen differently to different people. Luck and opportunity do not strike everyone equally or at the same time. Furthermore, all of us react differently to events in our lives.

Change of Attitude

Also, our attitude towards life undergoes many changes as we mature and experience successes, failures, hopes and disappointments, not necessarily in equal measure. All ‘opportunities’ in life do not announce themselves or stand out in black and white.  They have to be recognized and tapped.  The potential of something as an opportunity sometimes occurs to you out of the blue.  Don’t waste time.  Note it down before you forget it. Pursue it relentlessly.

Get an Early Start

Skills and instincts have to be honed early.  Making friends comes easily to some, with great difficulty to others.  Leading people and organizing items, people and events is also a crucial skill that has unbelievable potential in professional life.  Some of us develop this skill while still in school. Many of us feel that job search efforts should be made through conventional, logical and straightforward avenues such as advertisements, jobsite listings and recruitment notices. One avenue people are reluctant and even embarrassed to use is acquaintances, family friends or other people they know.  Others pursue this avenue with methodical contempt and some even hit the proverbial jackpot.

When It’s Too Late

The level of competitiveness now is so high that people start pushing themselves at ages once considered young and carefree. Many of us do not take these potential breaks or opportunities quite so seriously when we are much younger and then try doing ‘too little, too late’.  There can be tens, dozens or more numerous occurrences which we potentially rue in life because we didn’t chase them up.  If only I had called that friend of Y when he mentioned that opening…   Beware that time of your life when you are left standing with a multitude of “if only’s…”.

Effort Is the Name of the Game

Some people are very, very thorough.  They are obsessed and single-minded. They chase and follow everything up at every stage.  They cannot rest until every aspect has been sorted out or ironed out.  No conceivable loose ends are allowed to remain. People’s natures thus vary greatly, the variations spiraling downwards till we come to the careless, extremely lazy, unconcerned individual who cannot be bothered about anything.  This tendency can make him rely very, very heavily on the efforts of others.  People could potentially mess things up to teach this sort of person a valuable lesson.

Luck Has No Logic

The interesting thing is that luck smiles at times even on this type of individual and we come across carefree people sitting pretty in lucrative positions.  They compensate for their weak efforts or lack of effort by finding shortcuts such as knowing the right people; using manipulation such as dramatics, coercion or blackmail; using secondhand tried-and-tested business ideas that require a minimum of original work.

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A Story of Four Friends

In this particular very brief treatise, we will not look at all aspects of past regrets but rather at career efforts made by individuals at the end of their academic courses.

Let us take an example.  Four friends A, B, C and D graduate together with a similar qualification.   They are momentarily at the same point in their careers.  However, their attitudes and circumstances differ.

A has been calling prospective employers as early as six months before the graduation, and he has already attended seven interviews and emailed his CV to twenty-six other employers.  B waited till two months before graduation to start his hunt.  He has had two interviews and has emailed his CV to fifteen other companies and organizations.  C started applying after his convocation.  He has an interview in three weeks’ time and has applied to nine different companies based on an internet search.  D has done nothing at all.  Whenever he is asked, he says there is still plenty of time.

Let us fast forward to six months in the future.  A has got a starting level position with a company in another town two hundred miles away.  B is still applying, but working part-time in a local supermarket to make ends meet in the meantime.  C is postponing his career and has applied for part-time admission to a postgraduate degree course while working full-time as a chef.  D is still looking and he is panicking now.

Let us now jump to a year in the future.  A’s company has suffered a loss and they have laid off sixty people, including him.  He is back to square one.  B has started working full-time in the supermarket and they have given him the option of applying as a management trainee. C’s family cannot afford subsidise his further education and he has starting working part-time. D has gotten engaged in a rich family and they have employed him in a lucrative and well-paid position.

You can see that luck and opportunity are not always fair nor are they proportionate to effort.  If D had not gotten that lucky break, he would still have been unemployed.

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