No, seriously. Relax. You’re not behind the curve. You’re not missing out. You don’t need to discover your calling or passion or pick your career or industry right now or next month or next year or in ten years. You’re not late. You’re not going to be screwed if you don’t specialize soon. You haven’t lost too much time.
This might sound like odd advice from someone who’s always telling people that they don’t need to wait to get started on an awesome career. “Get out of the classroom! Get into the real world! Start building a great career today! Don’t wait for permission or hope for opportunity! Create!” That’s the kind of stuff I normally say. And it’s all true. That’s some good stuff right there. In fact, read it again. It’s that good.
So how can, “Don’t rush” and, “Don’t wait” be equally true? Because they apply to different things.
If you’re bored or unhappy or doing something that will force you to be bored or unhappy in the future, rush to the exit right now. If you know there’s something interesting and exciting, rush to start it today.
After exiting the crappy situation don’t rush to find the perfect path. If you know what it is, go for it with abandon. If you don’t, stop feeling guilty about it. As long as you’re not doing stuff you hate you’re moving in roughly the right direction and each step you take away from lameness is a step towards greatness, even though greatness remains undefined.
The worst of both worlds is rushing into something you hate because you fear you’ll get behind if you don’t.
“I hate this school/job, but I have to get started and complete it as soon as possible so that I don’t miss out on career opportunities!”
That’s bass ackwards. Chill out. Slow down. Don’t jump into something dull and painful when you don’t even know when or how it will result in something great. Run from dreary as fast as you can and when you’re free don’t rush to find some specific next thing that will prematurely lock you in.
Think about people in terrible romantic relationships. You know the type. After finally exiting via terrible breakup they desperately rush right back into a relationship with the first person they find. FOMO is no way to pick a partner and it’s no way to plot a path to career and life happiness.
The number of great thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs who didn’t get started until their 40’s, 50’s or beyond is staggering. The average age of startup founders is 40. And averages don’t define you anyway. You could be 60. Who cares?
Run as fast as you can from stuff you hate. Patiently do interesting things whether or not you get paid for it. Continue this process of whittling away the stuff that doesn’t make you feel alive and trying everything interesting with no artificial deadlines or timetables for when you must settle in on something or decide what you want to be when you grow up.
Rush to escape bad.
Don’t rush to create perfect. Let it emerge through interesting.