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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

The right career decision can lead to financial freedom

For one jobseeker, choosing between his passion for journalism and a more lucrative PR role comes down to money

Illustration by Gary Clement
Illustration by Gary Clement

“The money is much better, but I’ll be bored."

I was being asked for input: should this person - a journalist, in his present role for 10 years - take a job offered by a bank to be their PR person or stick with what he knows?

His concerns include:

- being fired by the bank – which means he would end up with egg on his face, and going cap in hand to his previous employer for a job. Reasons could include a nationalisation drive;

- losing his current network – he is known and respected within business circles and among his peers;

- having to learn a new system and work-culture, and figure out new colleagues;

- being bored by the role;

- and a reluctant admission that his title would indicate it to be a side-step at most and definitely not a step up the ladder of life

On the plus side, the significant pay hike is coupled with much shorter work hours.

What would you say he ‘should’ do?

I say: let’s take a step back and see where he’s headed in life.

His older child is off to university. His younger one has three more years to go. The bank has told him they will pretty much guarantee the position for five years. He wants to head back to his home country once his time as an expat is up. His measure of this is when his younger child starts university.

My thinking is that the increase in earnings, if he takes up the position with the bank, can be socked straight into a financial freedom fund. This assumes he already has funding in place for children, and his current life. If the job is indeed a five-year stint, he will have put one child through university, with a year or two to go for the second. He can relocate back home without a money worry to be had. Mission accomplished.

But what about his network, his journalism roots and passion for his existing profession?

Personally, I have always had more than one job on the go, not through deliberate design, rather due to my interests, and possibly because I am a habitual hermit in some respects.

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I put it to the journalist that he could capitalise on his network and reputation, and start providing content for outlets back home. This scores on many levels:

- he retains the journalism feather in his cap;

- he leverages his business contacts and creates work that interests his homeland. It could be profiles of fellow countrymen/ women, a ‘how to do business in the GCC’ and so on;

- he creates an extra income stream;

- he builds a network back home, ready for when he’s moving there for good.

Or he could just stay put, within his safety zone, with his colleagues, known system, and credibility, and have to plough on for many more years to earn the money the bank job would provide. Not have time or energy to create another income stream, or leverage his knowledge/ network as a result, and have to start from ground zero when he stops being an expatriate and moves back home.

Even when an answer stares you in the face, it’s tough. Why? Because it’s about needing to be brave - while being scared.

This person has a great work environment where he is, along with coveted autonomy, and respect. I usually advocate these things are much more important than the dollar sign.

But, he’s also in his comfort zone. He’s not growing, and can do his job with his eyes closed.

Stagnant is how I’d describe his current situation.

Yes, there is a lot at stake if he jumps ship and the bank folds soon after. But if he makes his inroads with his home-nation, and leaves his current role on great terms, who knows - other doors could open as a result.

There’s also a lot at stake if he stays where he is. What if he loses his current job - the whole company might go under, for example. But that’s not all. At stake are years more hard graft chasing financial freedom.

His opening line was that he was worried he would be bored. He must arrive at his own decisions – but I would encourage him to swap his B-word for brave. To dare to be brave. He’ll know what to do then.

Nima Abu Wardeh is a broadcast journalist, columnist and blogger. Share her journey on finding-nima.com