The most common mistake I see during my mentorship sessions is a conflict of being Process Oriented vs. Goal Oriented. Mind you, there is NOTHING wrong with being process oriented. In fact, I am personally very process oriented. One of my biggest passions is nothing but process: cooking. Yes, I love the process of cooking. In fact, mimicking gourmet cooking is one of my favorite processes -- particularly when there are many steps for a difficult and technical recipe. I absolutely relish the process of cooking and making a perfect dish.
However, when it comes to career goals, we have a problem. In many Asian countries to where the parents of Millennial Asians came from, the schooling-career pathway was much more connected. In other words, the process to care of itself. You took an SAT of sorts, placed with a school, took another test, placed with another school, took another test, placed with a college, and finally a career. It was a straight shot from school to grades to work. That's how it worked in the "motherland." Good grades meant good schools with high rankings. Good schools with high rankings meant good jobs. It was that simple.
Sadly, it is NOT that simple in many other areas of the world and is quickly becoming just as complicated back in the "home country." The school, the degree, and even the grades are not translating directly into stable jobs. It is translating even less when it comes to getting into those ranked schools.... when considering medical school or law school, etc? Forget it! There's an entirely different system at play which is NOT compatible with the old Asian culture's way of thinking. In fact, this has even spawned the formation of private academic and preparatory counseling companies which specialize in making their candidates LESS ASIAN! Why? Because it's more likely for the Millennial Asians to get into schools.
In all cases, the lesson remains: It's not what you know, it's WHO you know.
So how does this help us Millennial Asians? It helps us because we form an accurate and mutual understanding of the situation.
See, in business, a situation analysis is done before and after ANY strategic move. The same should be done for life, especially when it comes to career paths. If school is a prerequisite for further schooling, then it is very important. If a particular major, ranking, or certification is required for a job, then it is very important. However, if such things are not so important, then the precursors are basically worthless. And with the end goal in mind (ie. independent living, job, financial stability), we end up with different courses of action.
We commonly see this problem at hand:
- Oh, you're going to college? Which college?
- College XYZ.
- What's your major?
- What are you going to do with that?
What should be happening is this:
- What do you want to do with your life?
- I want to be a professional musician.
- So go practice every day, win competitions, learn from the best, get professional exposure. Aim for Juilliard, get ready to land in Open Mic.
- Okay! I guess we need to buy an instrument.
- Yep, I guess we better.
Yet, stereotypically, almost every Millennial Asian is a musical expert by the time they are a Freshman in Highschool, right? Yet, "Heaven Forbid" they try to make a living off of it. *sighs*
So! What's the End Goal? If your goal is to drive to Disneyland, a reasonable person would take a direct route. It would only be an unreasonable person who would first detour to some place (say San Fransisco) miles away only because everyone else did it... only because it was the cultural thing to do.
The most reasonable course for anyone is to take a direct route to their end goal. However, to do this, your end goal must be clear. If you wish to become a nurse, don't go get a 4-year-degree and THEN you're BSN. Just get your BSN. Don't just be a "Bio Major" because that's the thing to do. EVERYONE ELSE IS A BIO MAJOR. You think you're special? Of course you're not. No "duh" that no medical school will begin to look at you... you look like everyone else.
If you want a chance, you must stand out as unique, valuable, and innovative.
You must have the end goal in your sights, and, never deviate from that cause. How do we solve this strife that Millennial Asians suffer from when it comes to school, career path, and this existential shame?
Empower them to pursue their end goals DIRECTLY.
This requires that the millennial and the parenthood understand AND agree. It means that both sides need to drop their pride and sense of "duty" to the culture. The duty in life isn't to the culture. The duty is to EACH OTHER! After all, you're family, aren't you?! It's prime time you acted like it.