I grew up with a pretty traditional mindset about career paths, and I thought I knew exactly what I wanted. I put my head down in school and studied, went straight into a very practical degree and then threw myself into landing a job at the most prestigious professional services firm I could find. When I finally came up for air I started to question whether I really wanted to be a ‘Partner’ or whether I was sleepwalking all along.
I’ve since spent a lot of time reflecting and thinking about a ‘career path’ and most importantly, how I’d like to spend my time on this earth. I recently came across “How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You)” on the excellent Wait But Why blog and it is one of the best frameworks I’ve seen for introspection and analysis on this topic.
A couple of my favourite quotes are:
The real cause of tyranny of choice is accurately seeing the sheer number of options you have in today’s world while delusionally seeing those careers as the 40-year tunnels of yesterday’s world. That’s a lethal combo. Reframing your next major career decision as a far lower-stakes choice makes the number of options exciting, not stressful.
I think the tunnel analogy is excellent – I now view work experience and learning as cumulative and broadly applicable across different careers (outside of certain deep niche skills).
A better goal is contentment: the satisfying feeling that you’re currently taking the best crack you can at a good life path; that what you’re working on might prove to be a piece of an eventual puzzle you can feel really proud of. Chasing happiness is an amateur move. Feeling contentment in those times when your choices and your circumstances have combined to pull it off, and knowing you have all that you could ever ask for, is for the wise.
Great common sense advice.