Day 1 of #10DBC #FreedomPlan: Challenges vs. Focus

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m participating in the #10DBC #FreedomPlan challenge. This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1.


Natalie starts off the 10 day challenge by asking us to list 2-3 challenges we are facing, along with potential solutions we may have for these challenges. The overall goal here is to provide greater clarity in identifying what obstacles are holding us back so that we may then have a clear focus on what we need to do to tackle these issues.

My 4 challenges are (as you may start to pickup, I’m somewhat of an over-achiever):

  1. Constant battle to prove naysayers wrong.
  2. Struggling to find validation in my work.
  3. Overcoming financial hardship.
  4. Gaining the experience needed to land the jobs I want.

The first challenge is that many people believe I am foolish and set goals that are too ambitious. In undergrad, professors didn’t believe I could learn chemistry, let alone get into medical school (I did both). No one thought I could earn 1 MBA degree in one year, and when they heard I was adding on another MBA degree and also a Bachelors of Arts degree in the same time, everyone thought I was destined for failure (I completed all with the highest of honors from the university within 18 months while working part time). Almost everyone thought I was crazy to walk away from medical school and pursue a career in management and administration instead (I still landed an internship and a job). And now, no one believes that I can start earning a 6 figure salary within the next 3 years or that I will ever have a 7 figure yearly income.

And so I continue working hard, hoping that my education, determination, grit, and work ethic will begin to yield dividends soon. I will write my own future whether the world likes it or not.

The second challenge is that my work environment does not reward based on talent or production. The only factor that influences promotions or pay increases is how many years you have worked at the company, and this is only reviewed once a year (if you’re lucky you might get a 1.5 – 2% raise). It’s an environment that is difficult for me as I know I am exceeding the performance levels set forth for my job description and pay, but I am repeatedly told I am under-performing and am not being rewarded for my production (more on this in a future blog post perhaps).

How to address this? There’s a lot that’s about to happen in the next 4 months. Those 4 months will dictate what happens over the course of the following 12 months. Will keep you posted.

The third challenge: with the high cost of living, I find myself living on (after taxes and an amazing deal on rent) less than $900 per month. It requires creativity to spread that between utilities, loans, all insurance types, gas / car repairs, clothes, entertainment, travel, and food (especially when milk is $8-10 a gallon, regular produce can cost 20% more than on the mainland due to shipping, and most restaurants in the area cost at least $12 for a meal). And yes, I’ve read about Elon Musk’s $1 a day for food challenge in 1988 and Business Insider’s Kathleen Elkins’ attempt to match the challenge in February 2016 (Kathleen adjusted for inflation and used $2 a day; you can read Elon’s response to Kathleen here).

How to address this? I continue to innovate and expand my creativity to make every penny count. Yes there are days where I drink more water than I eat calories, and yes I’m searching for every food deal I can find. I’ve always been told “You have to put in your time. Getting started is never easy.” I’m adopting the mindset that it can’t get worse from here. Always look upwards, always keep hustling, always work harder than the other guy and eventually doors will open.

The fourth challenge: Perhaps I need to meet a new breed of employers, but the ones I have encountered always say “Yes you have the academic background, but you have no experience, which means you’re only qualified for entry level jobs. You’re on a 5 year plan until you can enter the next level.” This always bugs me. If I can perform at an equal level to someone who has been in the company for 15 years, why should I have to wait 15 years before I can get to their level (remember the years of service mentality for promotions)? I understand and respect seniority, and I recognize that I probably won’t get the same benefits or pay as that person, but at least have me in a comparable situation / something that is in the ballpark. Since when did we start judging and limiting employees not based upon their talents or potential, but based upon their years of experience? Why do we focus so heavily on cutting costs / what the impact is on the bottom line as opposed to providing the resources necessary to help an employee person grow and explode with talent for the company as quickly as the employee wants?

How to address this? I’ve created a list of professional licenses that once I obtain, will enable me to break through these glass ceilings. I have already received from the Institute of Industrial and System Engineers (IISE) my LEAN/ Six Sigma White Belt and my LEAN Green Belt. I plan to obtain my Six Sigma Green Belt by mid 2017, and then once a work project avails itself, pursue Black Belts in both LEAN and Six Sigma. In addition, by January 2017, I am aiming to obtain licensure as a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) from the Project Management Institute. I will then be eligible to sit for the PMP License in early 2018. NEVER STOP HUSTLING!

BONUS CHALLENGE: My dream lifestyle is to live in the Greater Los Angeles area. I’m currently not living there because the job opportunity is here in Hawaii. Will continue to expand my network and look for opportunities in LA.


And that’s it for my responses to Day 1 of the Blog Challenge! I know this was a long post. When I find topics that I’m passionate about, length usually ensues. Don’t raise your hopes too much though: the likelihood of frequent posts of this length appears (at least for the time being) a low probability. Come back every day between now and September 19 to see what else we’ll discuss.

Finally, what’s with the picture of me at the top of this post? A month ago, my best friend called me up and said “I’m coming to visit you in Hawaii and we’re doing the Super Spartan Race.” I’ve never done an obstacle course race or anything longer than a 10k. The Super Spartan was ~10 miles of obstacles. I was more freaked out about the Spartan Race than I was of going skydiving for the first time later in the week (I’m scared of heights!). Here, the official race photographers snagged this photo of me emerging from the barbed-wire crawl. We conquered the race, and we’re now toying with the idea of training for the Spartan BEAST (13 mile course). Here’s to overcoming mental fears and challenges!

Ok, it’s Saturday night here in Hawaii. Time to go enjoy a beautiful sunset!


Have feedback on my post? Feel free to comment below! Be sure to follow along with us as we continue to explore Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1.

Be sure to check out the hashtags #10DBC #freedomplan on Social Media to see what others are writing about!



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