Don’t you admire those people who, from a young age, knows exactly where they are going in their careers? It seems as if they have their entire life figured out. They not only have their 5-year plan, but they might even have their 10 or 20-year plans laid out.
And yet here you are just trying to figure out your first steps into the real world after graduating from school. You want to break into the creative industry, and yet you don’t have the experience that could help you land that first full-time gig that you are hoping for. You don’t want to settle, and yet the realities of life keep haunting you to favour pragmatism above your ideal situation. People around you are pressuring you to settle for a permanent, full-time job – any job that you can find in this ‘tough economy’ that we are experiencing now.
But of course, they will pressure you to do that. As Paul Graham puts it in his blog:
Everyone’s model of work is a job. It’s completely pervasive. Even if you’ve never had a job, your parents probably did, along with practically every other adult you’ve met.
That is why they will never understand. They will never understand your need to create and not become a cog in a corporate machine – a machine that you don’t even know serves what purpose in this world.
(It’s not that corporations are always bad. Having a job doesn’t mean that you are always a cog in the corporate machine. Companies are efficient ways of organising people. When people come together to work towards a goal in common, we can achieve so much more than what we could do individually. We contribute our own strengths while others contribute theirs. However, could some jobs ultimately be pointless and add no real value to society?)
So if the people around you only think that jobs – permanent, full-time jobs – are the things that will pay your bills, of course, they will pressure you to find one. They know of no alternatives. Or at least they don’t think that the alternatives will help pay your bills.
Which leads us back to the question of career clarity. Do you really need to have it all figured out from your early twenties till you retire?
If you are someone who knows what you truly want, great. But I hope you leave room for even your wildest dreams to be exceeded. I hope that you allow life to bring you to places that you could not even have imagined.
But if you are someone who is not as clear. Maybe all is not lost. Or at least I hope all is not lost, for I do not have that singular clarity for my career.
But I trust that all is not lost. Life, after all, is never linear. It is a long and winding road. Some segments of the journey allow us to see further ahead. Yet some segments of the journey does not allow us to see beyond the next bend.
Each time life presents opportunities and decisions to us, we have to make our choices. We say yes to some, and no to others. Ultimately those decisions lead us to different outcomes. Will life be different if we had made the other choices? Probably. But is there a point in thinking about those other choices when we have made our decisions? I don’t think so.
Decisions that we make are hardly ever irreversible. We can always correct our course as we go along in life. But to come back to square one and make our choices all over again doesn’t make sense at all. One thing that is for sure is that our circumstances, our age have changed.
So while I think that we can make our plans, and definitely should try to make plans for our lives as best as we could. Maybe we don’t have to worry over not having concrete plans for even the next five years. Five years ago, I didn’t even think that I would have worked in the education industry and moved to Australia to continue studying again.
What could we do then?
Perhaps we could let go and trust. Trust that life will bring us where we need to go. Trust that as long as we make our decisions with great consideration, they will lead us to the right kind of work that we are meant to do, even it means that there might be seasons where the job that pays the bills is different from the work that we truly want to be involved in.
Life might be a long and winding road, but as long as we focus on making progress every single day, putting one foot in front of the next, do we have to be afraid of getting lost?