Many of us spend more time in picking out a new car than we do working out what we want to do with our lives.
When looking for a new job, it is likely to be determined by 3 factors:
What are the chances that your dream job, the one that will make you wake up on Monday with a smile on your face, is going to be available at the precise moment you are looking?
Yet, once we have been hired, we tend to stick with it for several years. Often, the longer we stay in one place, the more comfortable we get and the harder it is for us to be able to change.
Before you know it, that available job, the one week you were looking, becomes your whole career.
If you truly enjoy your job and can’t wait for Sunday to be over, so you can get back to work on Monday, then congratulations. For most people, this isn’t the scenario they find themselves in.
So how do we go about finding a career that we will actually enjoy doing?
The key is to plan out what you want your life to look like. (I know, well done for stating the obvious.)
Most people don’t even take an hour to work out how they would like to spend their time.
We waste our time with short-term thinking and busywork. Warren Buffett spends a year deciding and a day acting. That act lasts decades.
The first part is to write down what you value the most.
This was my list when I did this exercise:
Family - My family give my life meaning. Hopefully I can pass on my knowledge and wisdom to my daughters, so they grow up to be happy and healthy adults.
Freedom - This might not be important to you, but I have realised that I value complete control over my schedule. I want to pick my children up from school, go to every school play, have lunch with my wife, and breakfast and dinner with my children. Work needs to fit around what I want to do in my life, not the other way around.
Helping Others - I think there is a human need to feel useful in life. I have found I feel the most fulfilled when the work I do is helping other people in some way. Whether it be teaching them how to code or imparting my life lessons.
Even at work, I found the projects I enjoyed the most had a tangible benefit on peoples lives, either by saving them time or making something easier.
Gaining and Using Skills - I have always loved learning. I am the geek that used to read “how stuff works” books as a kid. I want to learn new skills, use them and even teach them to others.
For most of my career, it was learning how to write and scale software. I have by no means mastered that, but the amount I was learning each year was getting considerable less. Now I am learning every day about writing, video production and marketing. The more I can learn, the happier I am.
You will notice that money is not on that list. I don’t value money, but I do value what it buys, which is freedom. Luckily, by learning high value skills such as software development and writing, I know I can always earn more money if I need to.
It can be a difficult exercise to do, people aren’t always sure what they want to do in life.
One option is to flip the equation on its head. What do you not want to do? For me, one of the things I don’t want to do is work 40 hours a week for someone else until I am 68.
Another option is to take a test.
I was reading Ray Dalio’s book Principles last year, and there was one aspect I found a bit disturbing at first.
Ray used to create “baseball cards” for each of his employees with stats about what they were good at. He actually got them all to take the Myers-Briggs personality test, which made up the basis of his stats.
The idea is that by giving his employees tasks that were more suited to their personalities, not only would they be happier, but the business would do better as a result.
You can take the test over at 16 Personalities. I found it quite eye-opening about how accurate it described me, and re-enforced a lot of the decisions I have recently taken.
If you are interested, my personality type is INFJ (Advocate). It is apparently the rarest personality type of the lot.
These are the points that really resonated with me:
It is worth having taking the test and having a look at what it says about you. You may find that it puts into words what you have always thought but never internalised.
Whichever path you pick, try not to get too hung up on the destination. You need to enjoy the process as that is where you are going to be spending your life.
📚 Book - There are some books that are so ingrained in pop culture that you tend to dismiss them. I have been reading The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy this week, and it is hilarious. I have certainly been missing out by not reading this one.
📝 Article - Obvious to you, amazing to others. Derek Sivers is one of my favourite authors, and reading this inspired one of the posts this week.
🐦 Tweet - The structure of the new rich. More people are getting rich from media than from startups these days. Dan Koe’s thread on the new rich has some great advice.
I particularly like this quote:
With 1-2 years of fulfillment-directed effort by leveraging the internet, you will have control over your time, income, location, and lifestyle.
That is the one thing I can relate to while on my creative sabbatical. Having control of your time is incredibly freeing and is probably the key to lasting happiness.
I am continuing my writing streak with the aim to write 365 blog posts (including this newsletter) this year and produce a video each week.
🎬 YouTube - How I would learn to code (if I could start over). There are quite a few “How I would learn to code” videos on YouTube, but most of them are from developers with 5 years of experience. Given I have been writing code since I was 8 (27 years ago) I figured I probably have a different perspective which might interesting to some.
📝 Article - Why Developers Should Embrace No-Code Solutions. As I mentioned in last week’s issue, I have been dabbling with n8n which has allowed me to automate a few things without needing to write much code. This got me thinking about no code solutions in general.
📝 Article - Finally Understand Regular Expressions: Regex isn’t as hard as it looks. I did a YouTube video on this last week, but not everyone learns by watching, so I thought I would put it in a post for people to come back to.
📝 Article - 12 Habits of Successful Senior Software Developers. As James Clear tells us in his book Atomic Habits, it is the habits that we build that get us to where we want to be. I take a look at the habits I see that senior developers have that junior developers often lack.
📝 Article - YouTube Analytics: How I Grew My Channel in the First 3 Months. A behind the scenes look at my YouTube channel and my first 3 months of trying to grow it.
📝 Article - 5 Books That Changed My Life. I read around 30 books a year. Obviously not all of them are life changing, but there have been a few that have effected me over the years. (FYI, I will be covering this in next week’s video as well)
📝 Article - Overcoming Fear By Doing What is Obvious. In many cases, the fear of not having anything valuable to say stops us from creating anything at all. Hopefully this article will prove that it is an irrational fear. Most of what is created is unoriginal and obvious, but it doesn’t stop it from being successful. I really enjoyed writing this one, so I hope you will enjoy it too.
“Integrity is the only path where you will never get lost.”
From The Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. Resurfaced with Readwise.
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