I haven’t posted anything in a long time (despite having 5 drafts sitting on my WordPress account that I’m just not ready to share yet) but in the past couple months a common topic popped up in multiple conversations, so I decided to put something down in writing. It’s easy to write when you feel strongly about the topic.
In February, my bruv Pete popped in for a long overdue visit (he lives in Mauritius and I hadn’t seen him in 3 years) he is busy planning his new future and we had some deep discussions around planning a career, making tough decisions when the way isn’t clear. He has multiple options on the table and no clear feeling which way to go. Then shortly after his visit another mate called me and told me he had pulled the plug on his job of 4 years to go in a completely different direction. Then another mate. same story. Then my favourite blogger Tim Urban, of WaitbutWhy ,who hasn’t blogged in literally 1 entire year, releases his latest post “choosing a career” which was kind of a strange topic for him, because he usually writes about space, the future, and artificial intelligence…. but he has also dealt with these changing times and it was a common problem in his circle of friends.
And then just this week, another mate called me asking for advice on how he should change up his career. Okay, maybe I need to write this out.
So this discussion has been a frequent one, and I had a secret weapon I had used in my recent career change, was this the time to share it? I was a little embarrassed at the thought of including it in this post, then I thought well nobody is probably going to read it, so what do you have to lose!
I guess my last 2 years have been a vindication of my decision to change my career and re-balance my lifestyle. it has been bladdy hard, and there have been some serious moments of self-doubt, even still when cash flow gets tight, and I’m struggling to pay bills I lie in bed and wonder if I’m being stupid. but then I revisit my “WHY”. why am I doing this, what is the alternative, everything becomes clear, and I know what I have to do, just press on.
So my ‘Why’ is obviously brought about by the experience of losing my wife to cancer and the perspective of time that came with that experience, time suddenly had a new value and became my most valued commodity. How could I spend my time in a way that I would never regret?
First, you need a value system, a hierarchy of what is most important to you. Everyone is different, and only you can answer the question, which usually requires some pretty deep reflection and/or a life-changing experience to make it clear. If you don’t have that clarity yet, Tim Urban’s post is a fantastic place to start! He systematically breaks down how we reach a place in our lives where we are suddenly at ends with what we planned, and following a few of his pretty cool, fun exercises, he helps you find your core motivating values. If you need this help, set aside the morning, read this post and follow the instructions.
Now look, I’m a little strange, I LOVE spreadsheets. They are like little fortune tellers. You put in info, create a formula and a Blam! The answer is there! It can tell you how much money you will have in 20 years time! It can tell you where you are making mistakes and it can even help you pick a career. I built one to help me remove the emotional elements of job choices and find a career that best suited my value system while leveraging my skillset.
It’s pretty simple:
- rank your values
- list your job opportunity or potential career paths
- answer 9 questions
- Check your answers!
This exercise does something I thought was really interesting, by focussing on very specific micro questions about certain elements to a job position, and scoring those questions according to a weighting for your values, the answer you get at the end is somewhat surprising.
In my case, my skill set of marketing, leveraged with having a big network of friends and my highest priority value being flexibility to spend time with Kimmy and my kids, the answer was so far ahead of the others, I literally couldn’t believe my eyes!
A real estate agent? Again? I had some really negative emotions with regards to being a salesperson, and there were other cooler jobs I imagined myself doing. I really couldn’t picture myself putting up show boards on a Sunday in formal clothing. but none of the other options scores close to it:
- Relationship manager at a tech/online gaming company in SA (decent flexibility) 43 points
- A senior position in the surf industry (years of experience, knowledge) 40 points
- Marketing department for a cutting-edge tech company (with a great salary) 39 points
All of these scored less than half of a position I had been offered at RE/ MAX, with zero salary ! hahaha, my value system was definitely a strange one. 83 Points! But it ticked most important boxes:
Flexibility, I needed a job where I could come and go on my own terms. I need to fetch kids, watch their extra murals, buy groceries, and once in a while sneak a surf.
Big Earning Potential , its definitely not for the faint-hearted, but real estate can pay out big if you are good at what you do.
Leveraging my network, I like people, I like talking to people, I think I have a decent reputation and I’m honest and genuinely care about what people think of me.
Time to build a side hustle, not many jobs allow you as much freedom and personal time management as property. I was going to make the most of it.
The downside was the lack of a salary , but because the weighting made that not a priority (yeah i know, not the smartest call) The other scores made the answer clear. RE/MAX it was!
Ladies and gentlemen I present to you…….. the Magical Decision Maker (click here and you can download it and give it a try)
IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS ! See bottom of the article!
Numbers don’t lie! I had to trust the spreadsheet. It was simple math. So I took the job. I decided to make it for me, rather than become a typical Sunday arvo agent, I would be me, and also sell property. I love working with people, I love catching up with old friends, I pride myself on my ethics and honesty, and I figured this would all be a pretty good base. I would learn to be an expert in the market but these other elements would be a natural starting point. Besides, I figured most homes sell themselves, you’re either feeling it when you walk in the door or you’re not, I just had to listen well enough to make sure I was showing my friends the right properties.
The first-year was hard!!!!!!! My cash flow was non-existent, and I went heavily into debt to cover my monthly expenses. But I was committed. I trusted that spreadsheet! I stayed committed to my plan of building quality relationships vs. selling the most property anyone has ever sold. I just wanted to be recognised for doing a great job, and being trustworthy on the few deals I did.
Fast forward to 2018 and I’m happy to report success and happiness! I won Rookie of the Year in 2017 (highest total commission for a new agent). It was double the earnings I had ever made in a calendar year, and I was still far off the potential (i think I was like 20th in my office!) But the best part of all of it, I had lived a balanced life. I had fetched my kids from school every day, I had time for myself (small amounts, but they were on my terms, and made me feel like I was in control and not just a cog in some wheel of life).
Another big goal of mine was to build an app in my spare time, I love tech, and I have about 3,000 ideas floating around in my head at any given time, I just wanted to bring one of them to life. Starting at RE/MAX you are put into a series of fantastic training seminars that help you build yourself up to a highly motivated and successful individual.
During one of these courses I stumbled upon an idea that I thought was relevant and turned into a conversation with a friend, which turned into a couple sketched out ideas, which turned into a spreadsheet (did tell you? i heart spreadsheets!) which turned into a meeting with a developer which turned into a year of development, and TA DA!
www.supapro.com is born. ( It’s a task management app designed specifically for salespeople with big client databases, and it syncs with your calendar which makes you really efficient at not dropping the ball)
I have some other projects, most of them I’ve been terrible at starting, but overall I really feel like my time and energy has been focussed on the right things over the last 2 years. You can’t do everything you want to do, there has to be a sacrifice. To give more energy to one thing means taking energy away from something else. The spreadsheet is designed to help you understand where you want to spend that energy and choose a career that supports that.
My cash flow is still very strained, and I’m far from what I would call comfortable, but I feel like I’m getting there, and enjoying the journey too, which after all is the most important thing.
I hope the Magical Decision Maker finds at least 1 person and helps them make a hard choice clearer! Please let me know if it does, I’ll be delighted to hear your story!
TAB 1 – ONLY fill in the corresponding number in the GREEN block
TAB 2 – LIST YOUR POTENTIAL JOB OPPORTUNITIES IN THE GREEN BLOCKS
TAB 3 – ANSWER the 9 questions relating to each job. ONLY FILL IN THE corresponding number. Different jobs can get the same score eg. Question how is the starting salary?
Astronaut – 5 , Lawyer – 5 , Street sweeper – 1
GO BACK TO TAB 2 FOR THE RESULTS. HIGHEST SCORE WINS.
Message me if it doesn’t make sense!