Picking careers

3 minute read

* Note: this is a backdated post from an email I sent to friends, lightly edited for personal content and context

Was recommended to follow this blog and it recently came out with something interesting.

It is far too wordy for its own good, but there’s a few points I thought worth highlighting:

“But before you can even address your general uselessness, there’s an even bigger issue—your pre-set path ended. And you’ve spent your whole life becoming a pro student, leaving you with zero experience as the CEO of anything.”

Particularly so for Asian educated people, but the transition from succeeding in school to doing well at work and life is difficult. You go from defined targets to an environment with no clear objective.

But even these people should pause and ask themselves, “Who actually drew this [career path] arrow? Was it really me? ” I’m pretty sure all of these people would benefit from a moment of career path reflection.

Everyone can always benefit from reflecting. Most people never stop to think why. Guilty of this myself sometimes - it’s hard, and I’m lazy.

[Ask why you desire something], you’ll usually discover one of three things:

1) You’ll trace the Why back to its origin and reveal a long chain of authentic evolution that developed through deep independent thought.

2) You’ll trace the Why back to an original Because that someone else installed in you—I guess the only reason I actually have this value is because my mom kind of forced it on me—and you realize that you never really thought to consider whether you actually independently agree with it.

3) You’ll trace the Why back and back and get kind of lost in a haze of “I guess I just know this because it’s true!” This could be an authentic you thing, or just another version of #2. Somewhere deep in you, you’ll have a hunch about which it is.

Frequently it’s hard to find out why we like something or are chasing a dream. It’s definitely important to do so and figure out if you’re doing something for yourself, or because you believe someone expects you to. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to do what other ppl expect, but you should at least be aware of the reason.

What makes someone slower or faster at improving at a career game? I’d say it comes down to three factors:

1) Your level of chefness. [ability to] look at the world with fresh eyes and build conclusions based on what they observe and what they’ve experienced.

2) work ethic

3) natural abilities

I’m not sold on the whole chef vs cook concept he throws out but it’s worth thinking about. I do agree work ethic and talent make a difference. The field you end up in is usually something you feel you’re talented in, so work ethic ends up making more difference on a relative skill basis.

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 agree that picking your first career doesn’t lock you in. That said, there’s certainly better and worse choices for the individual, depending on how much optionality they want to preserve. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you can be taken ‘out of the game’

Picking a career is very tough, and often you’ll feel tempted to change things up after a while. Understanding the reasons for changing, and not just going into something because it’s popular or the ‘thing to do’, should be a priority. As mentioned before I think ‘following your passion’ is usually inappropriate advice, and you have to put work into figuring things out.