November 14, 2020

How to Avoid Wasting Years of Your Life

There are very few thoughts that scare me as much as spending the rest of my life doing something I don’t want to do.

I don’t have my exact career direction figured out just yet, but I won’t rest until I’ve got a confident and complete answer to society’s favourite ice-breaker:

“So, what do you do?”

In order to do so, I figured that I needed a system to identify what to spend my time on and what I should be avoiding.

Here’s a strategy I’ve been subconciously using that could save you years of time pursuing the wrong career, degree or venture.

Observe the Person You Might Become

When we think about embarking on a new direction in life, we often build a mental picture of who we might become on the other side.

Our minds are completely free to conjure up a vision of the potential outcomes.

But, is this vision a close representation to the reality?

Here’s a more grounded approach to see whether your vision is likely to be realistic or quite the opposite:

Observe someone who is already on the other side — Do you like what you see?

If you’re considering applying for a degree, are graduates of that degree in a position you’d like to be in?

If you’re considering a career change, are people already in that career enjoying what they do?

There’s a Catch

There’s one big catch to the ‘do you like what you see’ approach.

Just because you’ve observed someone and like what you see, doesn’t mean that you’ve correctly identified the cause of what’s got them there.

A great example comes from the book ‘The Personal MBA’:

To paraphrase the author, great companies that stem from the minds of Harvard MBA graduates are a correlation (and not necessarily a cause) of studying at Harvard.

He states that Harvard University just happens to select the best students that are more likely to excel anyway.

So if you too want to create a great company, don’t just apply for a Harvard MBA, become someone that Harvard would want to select.

Conclusion

Observe

Pay close attention to the people who are already years into something you intend to begin.

Do you like what you see?

Copy

Steal the things you like about people you admire.

It’s very possible to curate a unique career direction from the best components of different people and things.

Make Room

If you don’t like where you’re headed, stop and rethink your direction.

Even if you’ve invested time and energy into getting to that position, think about it as making room for something better.

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Every week, I write about self-development, meaningful living and all things that matter.
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