From talking to a lot of older people, I’ve learned that when you’re young you’re not supposed to know what you want out of your career.
Sure, there are the few people who know they want to be doctors or firefighters or whatever from a young age. The biggest myth in career advice is that there’s some magical “perfect profession” that you’re destined for.
Hell, I don’t know what I’m doing with my career yet. Not 100%.
Some of the best advice I’ve read comes from Cal Newport. By day, he’s a computer science professor at Georgetown. On the side he writes about work. He argues that “follow your passion” is bad advice. Instead, find something you can do competently right now, then invest time in becoming great at it. His book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” is a great read.
Seth Godin gives similar advice in his book Linchpin – about how working hard at almost any job can make you indispensable to the company. Becoming indispensable is where you get the most fulfillment out of your career.
gives great career advice here on Quora. He’d encourage you to start your own company once you become good enough at something to add value. Where to start, according to James? Reading as much as you can – 500 books is the benchmark he sets for starting to become an expert.
I say all that to show you that no matter what you choose, becoming good at something and super valuable is going to take some time. Once you do, you can build a career around being the best at it.
So here’s what you do. Pick one thing you like, read as much as you can about it, talk to anybody you can about it, and become better-versed at that one thing than 80% of the population. (That’s actually pretty easy.)
Then, start joining in the conversation with experts. Start writing on your own. Keep reading. This will get you to the top 10% of people in the world on that subject. It will take some time, but it’s worth it. The top 10% of experts can build a career around their work. Not just that, but they are the ones who get invited to speak, who write books, who offer coaching, who can change jobs easily because their skills are always in high demand.
That’s how you build a meaningful career no matter what industry you choose.
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