Saturday, November 11, 2017

Before Happiness #2 : Mental Cartography

[ I am slowing down my blogging as I am 2 weeks away from my Bar Exams. It is quite harrowing as we have to complete 8 papers within 4 days. It will be a struggle to have one update a week with an exception made when I complete my next talk with BIGScribe. ]

The mental cartography component of this book also composes of three strategies.

First, you need to find your true meaning markers which is just another way of figuring out what your goal are in life. In my own example, a lot of engineers start out in their career wanting to solve interesting technical problems because this is something they are passionate about. Others may simply be hedonists and want to extract as much pleasure out of life as possible.

Second, you need to reorientate your map around these meaning markers. For this same engineer, this creates an interesting dilemma in Singapore because if he focuses on a meaningful career solving interesting technical problems, he would not be able to take on better paying roles in project management or leading teams. Singapore is just not a place for interesting technical problem solving although genuine effort is being made to correct that. I actually believe that if you solid coding skills, hedge funds may be the place to develop programming expertise because you might be able to work on issues like network latency when co-locating servers with those of the exchange.

If money is also one of his priorities, every engineer needs to ask himself whether it is worth sacrificing doing something meaningful and interesting to make more money. For me, I'd just go for the money because financial freedom is more meaningful to me than hammering out cool programming code. The books advises that you set your priorities right before you look at nitty gritty of career planning. Maybe I can hammer all the programming code I want after I retire from the work-force.

Thirdly, you should map your success routes before your exit routes. It just means that a person should be trying to live a life to attain their success and should not live their lives trying to avoid failure. While the scientific evidence is that people who more motivated and aligned with their personal goals get fatter pay-checks and promotions, things would not be as simple as it seems in a conservative Asian society. The books still has a point -  a lot of older project managers or team leads eventually regret their career choices as taking on a management role meant no longer working on interesting technical problems as they get used to higher pay after a couple of pay-checks. 

Singapore exacts a huge penalty on a person when he fails - A failed startup can cost a technical engineer about 7-8 years of his life as he pivots to a more stable career. Even if he can accept such an unpredictable lifestyle, the question is whether his parents will support him. Thereafter, there will be concerns from potential spouses and girlfriends who may just choose someone more stable financially. Even if the girlfriend is willing to make a sacrifice, his potential in laws will have concerns.

If you are a risk-taker, you have my full respect. Just don't underestimate the influence that an Asian society can exert on your penchant for risk-taking.

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