Today’s a bonus entry because I am penning my reflection about my last day at work (which was yesterday), and the valuable lessons I have learned after quitting my job at the correctional institution. Therefore, I will be very informal with my entry for this week.

The journey for me had not been very smooth sailing, but as I looked back with nostalgia, I am pleased and grateful to realise how many lives I have impacted and influenced throughout my career as a counsellor, trainer, and coach. I had been providing counselling to offenders and I trained correctional staff in micro skills and behaviour management techniques. These were the things I did.

Of course, there were plenty of setbacks before there were even small successes along the way during my stint at the correctional institution. All these became learning points for me in my professional and personal life.

Moreover, I am proud to say that, had I not serve in this profession, I would not have experienced the setbacks that transformed my mindset and my worldview, and also developed the motivation to strive for my own personal development.

This four-and-a-half year of bitter-sweet experiences pushed me beyond my limits to learn to become bolder and forward looking. All these opened up my mind to embrace Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Enneagram, Self-Development, as well as the world of Business, Marketing, Branding, and Financial Technology.

It all started with a wake-up call which cautioned me against being too complacent with where I am, because the world is rapidly changing. With that, I picked up the courage to get to know people outside my industry and workplace. What I did was to simply move out of my comfort zone. And the rest was history.

The drive towards excellence and the spirit of never-say-die stayed on with me even till now, as I leave my workplace with some sense of triumph and achievement. I am also grateful for the opportunities that motivated and inspired me to grow and excel as a professional and as an individual.

Here are 5 valuable life lessons I learned after quitting my counselling/coaching job.

1. People will never change

I know this will sound controversial because counsellors/coaches are the ones who believe that people will change for the better. There is a difference between the notion that “people will change” and that of “people will do things differently”.

I believe that people will only change or get their act together when the going gets tough for them. Apart from this, many will choose complacency over making extra effort to improve themselves. I have not met many people who chose to improve themselves because they want to, but rather they do so because they are required to.

2. Create your own opportunity

Do not wait for opportunity to come to you at work, but create your own opportunity. If you want to further your studies, do not wait for sponsorships unless you are the cream of the crop, or you do not mind serving a bond that will glue you to your organisation for a good period of time. Go and pursue your higher education or simply upgrade your skills at your own time and expense.

3. Show up often. Offer your help.

Show up often. Offer your help. This is the best way to become more visible within your organisation. Show up at meetings, offer suggestions or feedbacks, and offer your help and contribution to the project that your company is involved in. Do more of this if you want some advancement in your career.

4. Clarity is key

Be very clear with what is expected of you, your roles, your responsibilities, and your expertise. If unclear, ask until you are certain of what you need to do or have to do. This is more relevant to fresh graduates or newcomers who are new to the job scope and expectations within the company. Do not be afraid to ask until you arrive at your answer.

5. Take care of yourself

Be kind to yourself. Know your limits. It is okay to admit that you do not know certain things. Take time off when you are not feeling well. Do your best but do not be too harsh on yourself when things do not turn out as planned. If you find yourself not being appreciated for a good period of time and that the work culture feels unhealthy, do yourself and your mental health a favour — QUIT!