First posted on Dev Letters
The more I go through trying to build my career, the more I realize finding your dream "career" is way simpler than it looks.
I will give an example.
Almost everyone wants to be startup founders, you know, running a million/billion dollar business like Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerburg.
But do you really want to be like them?
That is, are you ready to take the 16 hour work days their work requires sometime?
Are you willing to be hated by millions of people for a slip up you did (/cc zuck)?
Are you willing to be in a position that shares just too much of your personal life with the world because you are such a popular person?
Another example we can take is of Hollywood celebrities and Instagram models.
Are you okay with sharing your body for money as part of ad campaigns?
Are you okay with dealing with long shooting sessions, from 4 am to 10 pm, where they might ask you to shoot the same scene 30 times? (this can be quite frustrating, trust me, I know it first-hand)
Are you okay with your life being too much in public?
THINK ABOUT these questions for a moment. Think how your life will be like if you are there.
I believe most of you would have a problem with at least one or all of these situations.
And yet, you still want to become the next Zuckerberg or the next Robert Downey Jr.
Now, I will explain why you find a conflict of interest in what seems like such a shining career.
It's because you are unique, and you have certain priorities in your life.
That's where this article on Wait But Why - How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You) helps. I know I have recommended it before but it's so good that I am here recommending it again.
Take out an hour of your life and go through it. Then perform the exercise that is mentioned and come back.
I am waiting.
Done for real?
So you should have a set of priorities for your life by now.
And it is also possible that you discovered some dark, not-so-civil things about you in the process. And that's fine, and a good thing for everyone's overall well being.
How? Let's see my list of priorities.
- Good food and life security (tentacle = practical)
- All the free time in the world, quality lifestyle (tentacle = lifestyle, somewhat personal)
- Social respect and recognition (tentacle = social, somewhat personal, somewhat moral)
- PRIVATE CAN'T SHARE (tentacle = personal)
- Moral duties like making the world a better place (tentacle = moral)
I know, you might be thinking Avi, you are so selfish. You have social recognition at #3 and making the world a better place at #5, below your own needs like good lifestyle, food, and security.
But I will still stand by them.
And here's why?
Let's assume that I do change this order, making moral duties at the top position.
Will it make me happier? Most probably no.
And will I have a major positive impact on the world?
I might have some but do you think this is the best I can do?
Suppose I stay intact with my current list of priorities, make myself a good lifestyle, and when those needs are met, I go on to saving the world and making the world a better place.
Now since I have a quality lifestyle, social respect and all, you can assume I can make a good amount of difference with the position I am in. No?
Let's take an example. Is Bill Gates making any less positive impact on the world than your local NGO? Obviously, no.
Bill Gates has probably satisfied all his priorities and so is going all in on his moral duties for the world. And he is doing quite a good job.
Same with a person like Tim Ferriss. His free podcasts are a huge knowledge base for many people (mostly entrepreneurs) of the world.
Do you think if his #1 priority would have been starting a podcast from the start, he would have been able to make such an impact? Probably no. But here he is.
I can go on and on but I think I have made my point.
Following your own list of priorities rather than the one installed in you by popular society will be good for both, you and everyone around you.
You will be happier, more successful, more impactful and more "a lot of other good adjectives".
PS - I know most of you might have skipped reading that article so here you go again. Read How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You).