Want to travel for a year or quit your accounting job to become a concert pianist? Can! But first, you need to consider this...

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Want to travel for a year or quit your accounting job to become a concert pianist? Can! But first, you need to consider this...

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We live in an age when all we hear are success stories; Mark Zuckerburg dropping out of Harvard and starting Facebook being perhaps the most famous. But besides him, there are lots of people who seem to be making money off following their dreams – a quick scroll through Instagram is the easiest place to see that.

A wise man once told me that if you’re going to quit your job, you need three months’ salary in savings at the minimum, especially if you want to live at a decent standard and not have to deprive yourself of too many nice things. Oh yeah, that wise man was my father. So in addition to those words of wisdom, here are a few key no-bullsh*t requirements you’ll need if that’s the kind of job/life you want to have.

1 Money

As practical Singaporeans, this will be our first concern. “It’s advisable to set up an emergency fund that will cover you for six months of expenses,” says Vasu Menon, Vice President and Senior Investment Strategist, OCBC Bank. “For independent workers, they should probably set aside a larger emergency fund to help them fund 12 months of expenses, because with the economy going through challenging times ahead, regular jobs may be harder to come by and the dry spells could last longer.”

2 Skills

Take some time to figure out what it is you want to do and what skills are needed to pull it off. That can mean dedicating your weekends to honing new skills, or even going back to school. For example, marketing skills are going to be necessary if you’re planning to start your own business. When it comes to building your brand on a platform like Instagram, style influencer NC Wong believes it’s all about trying to set your product apart from the rest: “[My practical worries include] how do I push my limits and create more interesting content that is not only visually appealing, but informative too.” 

3 Know that you don’t know everything

Even if you want to start your own company, you might not have the know-how. When Google was first created, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin brought in Eric Schmidt, a much more seasoned manager, to help them run the company. After 10 years as the CEO, Eric stepped aside for Sergey to take control again. “Don’t forget the importance of work experience,” says NC Wong. “I cannot emphasise how much I learnt through my full-time jobs that can’t be learnt on your own.” Skills like management and budgeting can be learnt on the job, and are must- haves if you’re striking out on your own.

4 Patience

Success comes to those who wait, but in our Instagram-world, we feel we need insta-success. Remember that this doesn’t even come to influencers. “Never take things or people for granted, and stay motivated,” says NC Wong. “I do not think I have reached my dream goal yet, but I am grateful and thankful every day for being able to do what I do.” Adds Vasu: “The financial rewards for success can be substantial and, even if you fail, it’s not the end of the world because you still have time to pick up the pieces if you are young and try again, or perhaps become a salaried employee.”

5 Prepare for uncertainty

This is what NC Wong says is one of the hardest things about striking out on your own. “Gone are the days of having something fixed and stable. Every day is a new adventure and challenge.” Adds Vasu: “When your pay cheques are not regular, it is especially important that you spend your resources carefully. Save by looking for bargains when buying things like groceries, and eat at home more often. Be especially careful about spending beyond your means when using your credit card. Credit card debt is very costly – the interest rate charged for outstanding debt is very high and can hurt your finances badly and set you back.”

Images 123RF.com Text Karen Fong. 

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