Your career is not your life. Work is too big a thing to not take seriously. But it is too small a thing to take too seriously. Your work is one-sixth of your waking existence. Your career is not your life. Behave accordingly.
Explore, then exploit. you should constantly look to quit your job—the precise set of roles for which you are salaried—and push yourself into discomfort zones because sampling from different skills and fields is helpful, provided that you’re prepared to pounce on an area that clicks for you. Better to think of your working life not in one dimension, but in two: the horizontal exploration of ideas, skills, and tasks, and vertical commitments to a single line of work that really fits.
Don’t do the job you want to tell other people you do. Do the job you want to do. Work is not a series of words on a LinkedIn profile. It’s a series of moments in the world. And if you don’t enjoy those moments, no sequence of honorifics will dispel your misery. Don’t take the job you want to talk about at parties for a couple of minutes a month. Take the job you want to do for hundreds of hours a year.
Be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what you value—and how much professional success matters to you. Some people think about career ambition as a profound virtue. Others think of it as something closer to a capitalist sin. Ambition is personal and people are happiest when their life is aligned with their identity.
Flow comes from voluntary, difficult, and worthwhile work. Rewarding work is not easy, but an achievable challenge that requires stretching your capabilities and allowing for learning and growth, it’s worthwhile. Having confidence that you’re helping people and feeling the joy of pure discovery, it results in flow.
Source: Work in Progress, newsletter