It's not uncommon to feel stuck in your career. You're not sure if you're in the right job, let alone on the right path. And even if you are in the right job, you may not be maximising your potential or doing your best work.
I was recently asked for career advice by someone who was struggling with some of these issues. And I realised that the advice I would give now is very different from the advice I would have given 10 years ago.
The sooner you invest in gaining clarity on your career, the longer you get to reap the compounding benefits.
Here are some things that have helped me:
Detatch your vision of success from mimetic desires. Find a problem that you love to solve.
I think too often we get caught up in what other people are doing and what we think success looks like. We should be clear about our own definition of success and what we want to achieve. What problems do you want to solve? What feels like play to you that feels like work to others?
Discover passion through compounding competence.
Passion is a funny thing—it’s not something that you can necessarily will into existence. I think it’s something that develops over time as you become more competent at something. The more you know, the more passionate you become. So invest in learning and becoming really good at something. It’s only then that passion will follow.
Decide what label you want on your tin.
There are so many labels out there: entrepreneur, intrapreneur, freelancer, digital nomad, etc. What label do you want on your tin? What describes best who you are and what you do? This is an important question to answer because it will help people understand how they can best work with you. The cool thing is that your labels can change and develop over time. It's important not to get too attached to them, but instead, you can find the underlying thread that connects them.
Make implicit and explicit promises about how you want to show up in the world
What kind of person do you want to be known as? How do you want people to describe you? The way you dress, interact, and communicate are all promises that you make—to yourself and to others—about what people can expect from you. Be intentional about them. These promises will guide your actions and interactions with others. They will also hold you accountable when things get tough or when things don’t go according to plan.
Engineer serendipity by making friends and learning in public.
Friendships have intrinsic value, and the variety of your network will correlate to the variety of your opportunities. And when you learn in public, you become a magnet for people interested in the same ideas.
Writing The Knowledge consistently online has led to new colleagues, friends, speaking gigs, course students, and interesting conversations. Sharing openly is an asymmetric investment.