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I am hesitant to write you for help because I’m no longer working and have no career to speak of.   I am 68 years old, retired for the past 8 years, and a widow with three adult children, all of whom are married and have families of their own.  I had worked for many years in a government corporation as administrative assistant and later as secretary to a department head.  My problem is that I’m in financial distress and have no more source of income.  I don’t have any savings at all.  I have used up my and my late husband’s entire retirement funds because, prior to his death, he had required long period of hospitalization, expensive medical procedures and medical specialists’ services.
I don’t know how long I still have to live and am so anxious from day to day, knowing that I’m just waiting for any of my children to take pity on me, remember me, and give me money for my monthly living expenses.  Sad to say, not one of them, including my youngest son who is earning much, takes care of me on a monthly regular basis which I can depend on.
I had to sell my and my husband’s house three years ago so that my youngest son could take a 2-year full-time master’s course which helped him become successful in his career.  The rest of the proceeds I divided among my children (including my youngest son), with me taking only ¼ of the proceeds from the sale of the property.  This is a big mistake I made but it is too late now to cry over spilt milk.  Now I live with a daughter, and her family, sharing a room with a teen-aged granddaughter who wants the room only for herself.

Do I have a chance to earn so I don’t have to be dependent and feel so helpless?  How can I go about it?  Please help me.

Mrs. Unhappy Retiree


You feel despondent about your financial dependence on your adult children who enjoyed equal share of the sale of your and your husband’s property, rather than just ¼ of your late husband’s share.  You feel hurt that they are not sensitive to your needs and don’t show their compassion for you.
I suggest that you don’t dwell on your feelings of self-pity and helplessness because doing so will only make you feel miserable.  You CAN and you DO have the capability to do something to earn money for your needs so that you don’t have to depend on your children.
The first thing you have to do is to have a can-do attitude, that you can have a source of income, and that God will bless your efforts to earn a living.  Repeat this positive self-affirmation to yourself everyday:  “I can have a source of income and God will bless my efforts to earn a living.”  Remove from your mind thought of being old, of not being able to do things, of being weak, of people not being able to appreciate what you can do for them. Instead read and know about elderly people who continued to be productive in their 70s, 80s, etc. Fill your mind with positive thoughts of “I can”, “I will”, “They will like what I have to offer”, etc.  When you are about to fall into your self-pity syndrome, repeat these positive affirmations.
The second thing to do is to list down all the job positions you have had and your membership in civic, religious and other volunteer organizations.  For every position, list down what you did (the tasks required of the job)  and then list down all the skills you used to accomplish these tasks.
As secretary, for example, what were your major tasks and what skills did you use?  Examples of these are:  composing routine letters, writing minutes of meeting, printing and preparing powerpoint presentation, photocopying, managing incoming and outgoing calls, arranging meetings, etc.
List down also all your hobbies such as baking pastries and pies, growing ornamental plants, cross stitching, decorating interiors of homes, sewing, etc.
Which skills do you enjoy using most?  The skills related to your interests can be the source(s) of livelihood for you.  Advertise your skills and/or your products thru your community and parish newsletters.  Ask permission to post your ad in bulletin boards in your barangay, village or parish halls.  There may be people in your community  who can hire you to do some printing jobs, prepare powerpoint presentations, etc.
You did not mention if you have a computer or have access to one.  Offering your computer service requires you to have your own computer.  If you have no money to buy one, ask your children, especially your youngest son, to give you a computer so you can earn and be self-sufficient.  Prepare a script that you can deliver to your son and his wife.  Example:  “I want to have a good computer so I can offer my skills to people who may need printing services and pay for them.  In this way, I can be self-sufficient and not have to wait for any of my children, like you, to provide for my needs.  I have already told you that I have no savings.  Since I had spent on you more than I did on your sisters, I hope you will give me this computer.” What do you think of this message?  How do you feel about it? You are honest in expressing to them what you need rather than wish they can second-guess you.  Your other option is to get a loan from them or from others.  The importance of writing a script is that this will give you time to choose the words you will say, and deliver your message with self-confidence.
Additional sources of income can come from cooked or baked products you can make, or crafts you can produce. If you are very good in baking some pastries like chocolate chip cookies, ensaymada, pastilles, tarts, etc. or pies, like apple or peach cream pies, etc. or preparing a variety of pasta, you can advertise your products, price them and have your prospective customers call you for orders.  The usual practice for food order is an advance of 50% upon ordering, with the 50% balance to be paid upon delivery.
Spend time developing your network of customers by being members of community or parish organizations.  Tell your fellow members about your products and your services.  Give them free small sized samples of your baked products or pastas you churn out, and ask them to order from you and to refer your products to their friends and neighbors. Call them up and tell them about your products.  The important thing is for you to sell products that you can do well and which have fast turn-over.
Can you write? What is your writing style?  How is your grammar?  You can write for magazines and newspapers.  You can offer to take down and write minutes of meetings of your village association.  Be aware of all your skills and abilities.  Listing these down will make you feel good about yourself and grateful to God for giving you these gifts.
Just as important, hone or enhance your skills so that you can improve your services and your products by enrolling in short courses.  I suggest you look up short courses offered by Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) at telephone #s(02) 637-4018 ; (02) 637-4108.  Also, take a course on setting up and managing a micro-mini business from your home.
By doing all these, you will have no time for self-pity, to feel anxious and miserable.  Your self-confidence and inner peace will add many more years to your life, and more life to these years.

God bless you.


Josie Santamaria

I am already 28 years old and have had a total of nine jobs but not one of them interested me enough to make me stay in one company and build my career there. I only stay five months in a certain job and then I either resign or I just disappear. The longest I ever stayed in one company was eleven months. I don’t know what I like. I don’t have any direction in my life. My friends are already rooted in their jobs and succeeding in their careers but I continue to be a rolling stone that gathers no moss.

I’m a graduate of BSBA, major in human resource management. I had three shifts in majors in college and eventually went along with my friends who were majoring in HRM. I have no problem getting a job; I pass entrance tests and succeed in interviews. I’ve tried some of the HR functions but nothing appeals to me. I’ve tried selling jobs but I don’t like the pressure that goes with having to meet quotas.

I don’t know what career to go into since nothing interests me. My parents are frustrated with me and had refused my request to take up graduate studies. They made it clear to me that they were no longer financing any further studies. I know I must decide on a career but I don’t know how to go about it. Please help me.

Ms. Aimless


You feel pressured to make a career decision but you don’t know what you want despite having had nine jobs and how to go about choosing and deciding on a career. Your parents are right in their refusal to finance your graduate school education. If you don’t have a career goal, a master’s degree will not help you.

I hope that what I will suggest to you, you will do, and that you will find them helpful. The first thing you must do is to decide that you want to make a career choice and set a career goal, and that you will undertake the suggested process seriously.

The second thing to do is to list down all the jobs you have had. Make three columns. In the first column, list down the things you did in the job that you liked/enjoyed doing.  In the second column, list down the activities that you disliked or bored you.

From this initial activity, a pattern may emerge. Dr. John Holland classified careers into six categories: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. Realistic careers require that you enjoy using manual and mechanical skills in handling objects, tools and equipment; Investigative careers require that you are data-oriented and that you enjoy gathering and analyzing data. Artistic careers require preference for  unstructured environment and enjoyment of activities related to language, art, music, literature, music, drama, creative writing, etc. Careers that require interaction with people are either Enterprising or Social. Enterprising careers involve leading and influencing people to achieve team/organizational goals or to pursue economic gain. Social careers are those related to helping other people: teaching and training; healing and curing; informing; developing them. Conventional careers require following a set structure; they involve the precise and ordered use of data such as keeping and filing, computing, printing, etc.

Go back to the list of jobs you have had. In the third column, write the career area of the activity that you like. For example, teaching is Social and Investigate while training is Enterprising and Social. Computer skills are Realistic and Investigative. There are no careers that involve only one set of activities.  If you take an interest test, the results will give you your major career area, followed by two others. An example is an ESA combination, i.e., Enterprising, Social and Artistic. This means that a person’s interest has to do with leading people in creative activities that will be economically beneficial to the organization and to those being helped. Managerial, marketing and selling careers are examples of an ESA interest combination. You can take an interest test in testing centers, in workbooks on career planning, or even on-line.

Perhaps your career interests do not require a corporate setting. An AIR (Artistic, Investigative and Realistic) interest pattern is one that prefers an unstructured environment (where there are no rules and policies to follow, no boss to please), enjoys freedom of expression, is imaginative and creative with the use of things such as a computer, crafts, etc. If you have this kind of interest combination, you could be your own boss and operate a business right in your own home. But this means you will have no fixed and regular income. When you have projects, you make money; when you don’t, you have none.

Once you have identified your combination of career interests, look up sections in newspapers such as the Sunday Inquirer’s Job Market for corporate careers/jobs advertised in line with your career interests. Or you look up business opportunities or entrepreneurial careers in line with your interests.

It’s very important for you to know that interest alone does not determine your career. There are other important factors you have to consider: your skills and aptitudes, your intelligence and opportunities available in the environment to pursue your career interest, and earn in the process. There are eight human intelligences, perhaps more: linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalist. Each of these is expressed in particular interests or preferences. One with Enterprising and Social interests need to have interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. Both interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence comprise Emotional Intelligence (EI) and measured by Emotional Quotient (EQ). IQ measures logical-mathematical and spatial intelligences.

You can also validate the above findings by doing a creative visualization activity. Take time out from your activities for the day and go to a quiet place where there are no distractions (no people to call you, no telephone and cell phone to ring, etc.). Take a comfortable sitting posture, either on a chair with your back leaning at the back of the chair, or on a mat/carpet. Close your eyes. Start breathing exercises to relax you. Once relaxed, mentally focus on a white light in front of you and then see yourself 3-5 years from now. How do you look when you are happy?  See your face and physical appearance. Visualize what you are doing that you enjoy immensely and where you are doing them. Embellish the vision with details. Be creative. Hold this vision for 5 minutes.  Then end the vision with breathing exercises that bring you back to the present. Write down the enjoyable activities and compare these with your career interests. These should be congruent.

You can also participate in a career planning workshop or avail of the help of a professional career counselor. My Life/Career Planning Workbook, which is available in National Bookstore, may help you. This workbook provides a process-based guide to help you explore career options, decide on the right career options from among these options, and set a career goal. It also guides you to decide on the right career path according to your personal mission in life.


God bless you.


Josie Santamaria