Human beings are quickly distracted by shiny objects. How often do you see that in your daily life?
The world is filled with interesting things to pursue, do, or acquire. We all have something that we want at any given time.
We want more money, a new house, car, smartphone, travel the world, get married, write a book, start a business, get a new job, a six-pack, invest in the stock market —and preferably, we want to do everything at the same time.
That’s how most of us behave. We have an endless list of things we desire. And we’re bad at making decisions. The result is that we have to deal with an inner battle.
I think we all know that we can’t achieve everything. An that’s especially true for your career. We all want to have a career that we love. We want to turn our passion into a career.
But because we want it all, we’re not going anywhere close to that goal. One of the main things I’ve learned is that more does not equal better.
One of the most important career lessons I’ve learned is to pursue a career and not a job. At first glance, you might think, “What’s the difference?” I also didn’t get it for years.
That’s how I finally ended up in an IT job that I wasn’t passionate about. At one point, I was reflecting on my career and life by writing in my journal and thought, “How on earth did I end up in this job?”
Have you ever thought about how long your career actually lasts? If you ask me, your career ends when your life ends.
Our work plays such a big role in the quality of our lives that I’m surprised why people stay in jobs that they hate.
I understand that sometimes you feel like you don’t have a choice. Maybe your parents want you to become a doctor. Or maybe you feel the pressure of social media to make money so you can have the life of famous people.
Whatever the reason is, many of us only work because we need the money. If you ask me, that’s a sad way to live.
Several years ago, I was no different. I thought a career was about status. I wanted to have a job that made me look good. But when my grandmother passed away, I started thinking about what I was doing.
You probably spend at least 50% of your waking hours at work, going to work, or thinking about work. And to be honest, that percentage is quite modest. For most of us, work consumes almost 80% of our time and energy. It’s on our minds all the time.
It’s not a surprise that 1 out of 2 people is unhappy with their careers. We trade our precious time for frustration and money.
Ever thought about that? Four years ago, I was also frustrated with my career. And because your job plays such an important role, my whole life felt like shit.
I’m not saying you should love your work at all times and that your career should be one big party. No, some days I also don’t like my current career. But I’m 100% comfortable with the way I spend my time.
One of the most popular ideas in personal development is that all successful people have achieved mastery. Many of us believe in this false notion that you have to master a skill to achieve career success.
That’s because we, as a society, admire and glorify winners. We look at billionaires, champions, gold medalists, and other outliers. I must admit, there are many lessons we can learn from people who are masters at one particular skill.
But at the same time, it’s very daunting. Let’s be real, not everyone wants to spend 10 or 20 thousand hours to master a skill. We all have other things we value in life: Our family, friends, hobbies, health, you name it.
So when people write books and articles about outliers, we might get inspired, but from a practical point of view, the advice is useless. Not because we can’t apply the advice—most of the time, we don’t WANT to.
Do you sometimes feel like you’re wasting your potential? And do you also feel unsure about how you can even reach your full potential?
If so, you’re like any other ambitious person who wants to make the best of his/her life. Because to me, that’s what “reaching your potential” means.
We all have limited time on our hands. Some live longer than others. But you and I both know that it’s not about how long you live, it’s about what you do with the time you’re alive.
It’s about leaving everything on the table and making sure you live up to your inner drive. Look, when I talk about reaching your potential, I’m not talking about what other people or society thinks we should do with our lives.
I recently spoke with one of my students about her challenge to find a new job. Like you, she reads these types of personal development articles.
And she invests a lot of time in her own education. After speaking to her, I was convinced she would be an asset to any company that hired her.
However, she didn’t feel the same certainty as I did.
“But what if everybody else is trying the same strategies to get a job?”
Like many people who invest a lot in their education, she assumed that literally every single other person on planet earth is doing the same. And that her chances to land a great job diminished because of that.