You are in your late 20s and early 30s, you are out of college and probably paying the last of your student loan. You are really becoming an adult. Some say this is the prime time of your life. Now what should you do during this time?
Go see the world. I am glad that my parents encouraged me to go travel and explore career opportunities internationally. Sometimes they think I spend too much money on travel. But sometimes when you are in the prime time of your life it is the best time to travel. Going to Pamplona for the running of the bulls at 25 years old is much different than going at 50. Likewise going to a country side cottage at 50 is much different than at 25, both can be equally fun but the activities may be different. Travelling when you are in your 20s will help you see the world in different perspectives and that will only help you in the future.
Money or Passion
Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work again – Confucius
Should you work for money? Should you work all the time and max your earning potential?
What’s your passion? Should you work for your passion?
For some people it is a job title, for some it is the job and some it is the money. What is success for you? This definition is not the same for everyone, we have different motivators. Therefore you shouldn’t be in the same race as everyone else.
Professionally I work as an IT consultant. Personally I may not be the most passionate about programming but I wake up every morning excited to go to work. Why? Programming is a gift for me. I program mainly in C# during my day job but everyday utilizing the craft of coding I am able to think and learn. I get to work with people and find out what their problems are and use code to help find the solution. I get to mentor others to help them learn. In return I also get to learn from others, better techniques or different languages.
Watching television we see many cooking shows lately from Jamie’s 30 minute meals to Top Chef. Now everyone thinks it’s easy to make it in the restaurant world. My passion is food, I like eating it and making it but could it be my career? I don’t think so I don’t want to work in a kitchen 10+hr days for 6 days a week. On television we only see the good parts.
We live in reality and sometimes we are slaves to the idea of money or suffer because we can’t pay the bills with our passion. Some of us hate our jobs but can’t leave because it helps pay for the lifestyle we want. Some of us pursue our passions but the “struggling artist” scenario creeps in. What can we do?
Finding a Direction
If you are not exactly feeling 100% in the prime time of your life, answer the following questions to help guide you
- What are your priorities at the moment? It is your career? It is your health? It is your family (or future family)?
- Are you making time for your priorities?
- What are your gifts/skills?
- How much money is enough money?
- What kind of work do you enjoy doing that time just passes?
- What challenges do you enjoy?
Are you in the driver seat for your future? Like a driver of a car it’s never too late to change course. Here is an interesting read from the Harvard Business Review, The Top Five Career Regrets
After answering these questions myself earlier this year I was able to make a choice in my career and life.
Combining my skills and passion is what I should be doing. I like to think about problems that involve cooking/food and think about what tech can be used to help solve the problem. I try to use it as the theme for my side projects. Some ideas I have are interactive grocery lists, a sensor in your fridge that tells you want food is in it while you are not a home and visual guides during cooking. But can I quit my day job yet? The short answer to that is no. With a wedding coming up I know that I will need money but at what cost? I know that my priorities in life is my health, family and friends. I did not want to work long hours to get a lot of money. If I worked long hours I would not be able to socialize with my fiance or friends, go to the gym regularly or have the energy after work on my passions on the side. I am happy that in my current role because I get to hone my skills and time for my priorities. I work on my side projects and maybe one makes it big but no matter what I am doing I’m enjoying it because I’m using technology (my skill) to help solve problems that are interesting to me.
By giving enough time to your passion on a regular basis you can remove the risk of become the struggling artist. This takes time rather than a big bang approach. You can transform your passion into your career.
What are you going to do with the prime time of your life?