Listen. Risk. Help. One woman’s thoughts on how to do career.

Photo by Aiste Lei ©

I eavesdrop a lot, my ears are like antennas picking up conversations that I’m not supposed to hear. It might be indecent but hey, it’s fodder for my craft.

So the other day whilst enjoying a coffee at Starbucks, I pretended to read an article on my ipad, but in reality I was occupied by a conversation being held between two friends sitting adjacent to me. Not only was I listening to their dialogue but also to the pauses, the chuckles, the silences; brief moments that are subtly filled with essence.

One of the women announced to the other that she had decided to quit her day job. She would move in to a smaller apartment with her child, and pursue her dream to become a textile designer. A decision, which the other friend thought was a tad risky and irresponsible.

To me, taking (well-thought out) risks is actually quite responsible. I am convinced that life is not about having everything mapped out, sometimes it’s sensible to do things that make us nervous and that we even some day might regret.

That’s why I find mainstream career advice so off-putting. It seems we are always encouraged to endure, to ‘climb’ the ladder, basically to kiss someone’s ass so that we too eventually can get our asses kissed. Hearing such career advice is quite depressing. It makes it feel laborious and tedious to succeed and that in return often results in people not challenging the status quo. Unless they are very competitive by nature. Being competitive in fact, is what often seems to be urged by career advisors. Furthermore, this might be a disadvantage for women, as research suggests that women are not as competitive as men. Go figure.

The truth is crafting a career is fun! Your career is part of your life’s journey, not an end destination. Yes, it takes time but if you have an idea of what you want to do you don’t have to challenge the odds to reach your goal, rather your challenge is to realise that the goal with a career is to see it as a way to improve your self. In other words, returning to the ‘ass’ analogy, success is not about having your ass kissed but about keeping it toned.

Most importantly, I want you to consider this. Many people don’t have the privilege of career choice, in the same way some don’t have the option to vote. Neglecting this privilege is the same as not voting. Doing a job that you hate day in and day out if you have other options is not giving thanks to the gift of choice that you have been given. The reason I say this, is because people that do what they love tend to have higher self esteem and that in return makes it easier for them to help others. Of course the more we can help others, well, the better societies we all can live in.

I’m not suggesting people should quit their jobs without a back up plan, (although this is what I did), but start taking steps towards what you really want to do.

The succeeding question is do you know what you want to do? And if so, are you doing it? Do you agree that self-esteem and job satisfaction are linked?

  • POTO

    It is time to make an investment in real assets. Different kind of aspiration! I see 😉

    • POTO

      Happy Monday fam! Let’s start making our dreams come true today! I am starting an Securities Exchange! :)

  • teachermrw

    I agree that self-esteem and job/life satisfaction are connected. The better that one feels about herself, the more likely she is to not remain in situations that are unsatisfying.

  • chomy

    Hi Sis!!
    this is a very informative post and i certainly agree that self esteem and job satisfaction is linked. i think the first step is always finding out exactly what you want to do (knowing that definitely raises your confidence level. with that you can start mapping out your route and figuring out how to get there. the reality of my generation is that we want to do it all, and now more than ever the internet assures us that we can by connecting us to a new world of realities and possibilities. but in between figuring out WHAT you want to do and HOW you are going to do it , there is the issue of means and access , back school loans and rent money right? lol

    unlike before when you had to have a ‘back up plan’ , these days what might be missing is the financial security or stability. unlike before your backup plan isn’t even another job but could just be something as simple as not having rent money or someone to spot you while you ‘go for it’ i think these days with jobs being scarce and companies steadily refusing to Pay up, what happens is an individual knowing what they want to do, knowing how they can do it but lacking the immediate incentive to do so because they are more worried about how they can ‘afford’ the journey toward their career.

    the way around that is to start from somewhere and not be discouraged. you are so right that the whole thing doesn’t need to be mapped out to make that start so the idea isn’t to figure every tiny detail out from day one.i find that knowing what you want to do first before jumping helps to pad the initial fall and certainly helps you keep ‘the dream alive and not give up’ .i agree with you about mainstream career advice being off putting.i also don’t like the position such advice places on individuals…. i think to some extent you can do conventional work and still work on making your dreams a reality, the trick i suppose will be in knowing when to dump the former to concentrate on your dream 100%.the idea that it has to be one or the other regardless of circumstances, that working a 9-5 while also working on your dream means you are not following your dreams can be very discouraging to some . they feel the only way to do it is always to jump first and think later. and while this works for alot of ppl, i think individuals need to figure out their own limitations , what they can live with and what they can’t live without.if you believe that there is a difference between a job and your career, what you do to get to where you are going should not affect how dedicated you are to getting to where you want to be.i also think that knowing what you are skilled at earlier on helps alot, because i think some individuals possess certain innate skill sets that simply can’t be taught or taken away so that skill in a way remains regardless of situation or hardships. so if someone is naturally good in Sales, that skill will be there even if they have to work nights as a nightwatchman initially…Some people just need the opportunity to show what they can do, some need the inspiration to find where to start, some need a hand or a kind word from a total stranger to ‘GO for it’ some just need capital to set up or a couch to crash for 6 months after they’ve quit their day job to chase their life career.
    the idea sometimes is to recognize which stage you are in in your personal journey and adding to it as you go…

    ok i am shutting up now lol. but will bug you laterz:)
    love you!

    • MsAfropolitan

      yes to what YOU want being key.
      and YES to that not necessarily being something ‘creative’. In fact what creativity means is doing something you want and love and for some people that might be microfinance, right?

  • chomy

    OOO and you look totally gorgeous as per usual !!! Afropolitan Chic as always:) always inspiring!

    now i am really going!hehe

  • POTO

    Sis, to be honest, starting a securities exchange is not really what I want to do, as in dream about. But I think it could be helpful. I was just talking with my father though and he mentioned I should do something in communications but I don’t have any real experience there. I always sort of been in finance field but I’m very creative and need to do something cool! Thing is, with an exchange I could move assets around where they needed, better access. If you move assets around any other way middleman gets half.

  • Val


    This blog was recommended by a friend, and I must commend you on its pertinence. I’ve been grappling with the very issue of risk versus security, and it’s so hard to come up with an answer. Your post sheds much-needed light, as it advises that risks should be taken for fulfillment…Thanks for this.

    • MsAfropolitan

      hi Val, I’m so pleased that this post was useful to you.
      I hope you find the right balance moving your career forward. stay in touch!

  • MBA

    You always seem to say the right thing when I need to hear it. My four month stint here in Geneva was supposed to be just that as it had a particular slot in my career path that was not meant to be static but a way to gather information and learn intensively to be able to to move on. For some reason people think I am nuts and not living up to my potential because they don’t see what I do but I get money from somewhere and I’m able to go here and there. I will send them this post every time they say something to me until they get the message.

    Keep being you,you’re awesome possum and even more so for sharing :)

    • MsAfropolitan

      Thanks love! I completely relate, people ask me all the time (shaking their heads) why do you blog, why gender studies, why this that or the other. I say as long as it makes sense in your head, then it’s a match. lol.

  • Vickii

    I like this Minna and I totally agree with you! I just think life is too short, and we spend so much time at work that to spend all that valuable time doing something we hate is just a waste of life.

    On the other hand, I think people have different priorities. Mine is to be happy, content, do something I love, do it well and hopefully be recognised for it. For other people, their priority is money and they’re happy to do something they hate as long as they can make lots of it! I’m not saying it’s wrong but it’s definitely not the way that I would do things

    I’m not In answer to your questions, I think I know what I want to do. I’m doing them on a small scale but not making a living from them but I believe that I am making steps towards a time when they’re all I do :)