Monday, February 2, 2009

The Great Expectations

We've heard it perhaps a thousand times, since the beginning of the credit crunch. In any case, this is actually a familiar word somebody must have told us at some point of our lifes. The keyword is... Managing Expectations.

This is however more relevant in times today where people are losing their jobs by the minute, if not second. There is an estimation of 6 million unemployment in China, 8% in USA and on our sunny isle of Singapore, a 3% high. No one has the answer to when this tsunami may end. Finland's government has collapsed. Hence it is far more important for us today, to be able to manage expectations. Expectations of our life, of our job and our desires.

If man was ruled by needs and not wants, if greed was replaced by gratefulness, the world will not see itself being washed into these great big waves, a deja vu of the Great Depression, where Karl Marx once observed that history will repeat itself. As he said, the first time was a tragedy, the second is a farce.

I ran my own food business for a short period of 4 years. And as an employer, I made a very interesting observation. In contrary to common beliefs, I realised that age nor qualification is an obstacle to getting the desired job. Usually the people who manage to get a job, always gets a job, no matter how many times they have job-hopped. And the people who fail in getting a job, will never get their hands on that ideal job. It is all a matter of attitude and managing of expectations. As they all say, to change your life, first change your mind.

There are always similar traits in people who carry a positive attitude. They are polite, full of smiles, able to express themselves well, sincere and eager to contribute. The people who tend to fail in an interview are usually self-absorbed, mr-know-it-all, mr-know-how, rude or it may seem to pain them to say an additional word when questioned. They are almost too eager to ask what the company can provide than to ask themselves how they can add-value to the organisation. Usually, I like to judge my first impression of people from a handshake and if they will put the chair back. I think it tells alot about a person, about his/her attitude , upbringing and interest. A firm handshake and putting the chair back in its original position lightly will definitely get in my good books quite immediately.

Returning to the topic of managing expectations. There are alot of adjustments to make and it's all in the head. Firstly, don't expect the same salary and job comfort. There will definitely be alot of intensity and adjustments in salaries. Especially for fresh grads waiting to embark on an exciting career, I'm sorry to say it may not sound too exciting afterall. For the mid-career change, who has just got retrenched or terminated, it may not be easy to find a job in the same capacity in this period. Take the best use of this time to upgrade skills and get yourself intouch with the industry. Opportunities are only for those who are prepared for it. Hence, make sure you are always prepared, always on your toes. When the economy rebounce, you don't want to be caught left behind.

Manage expectations in your lifestyle. Man has always been in a neverending pursuit for luxury and material wants. In unforeseen weathers like this, cash is king. Keep that dollar for a rainy day use, be very very careful with spending on credit (actually, don't even try), manage and plan loans with delicate care and read investment products thoroughly to understand your risks before attempting to outwit the market. Understand that you may not be dining out as often, cut down on that monthly shopping spree and perhaps trade in your BMW for a Toyota.

Be grateful about the things you have in your life and not the things you seem to be losing. In actual fact, we lost nothing. We had nothing to start from anyway. If we all rule our lifes with our needs and not wants, we will see a lighter side of life.

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