One of my strengths (and maybe one of my weaknesses) is that when it comes to making a decision, I am really good at taking out the sunk costs.
Like a little too good.
When I read a book and find myself with only 11 pages left but I don’t like it any more, I don’t finish it. When I study law for 5 years but realise I don’t want to be a lawyer, I decide not to become one.
Time and effort
You shouldn’t be concerned with ‘wasting’ time, money or effort that you’ve invested in the past – there’s no point.
You can never get that time and effort back, regardless of whether you continue down that path or not.
I’m not saying that there’s no value in consistently and persistently working towards a goal – of course there is. The time and effort that you’ve put in in the past will pay off if you continue down that road.
What I’m talking about is when you realise that the ladder you’re climbing isn’t the one that you want to get to the top of.
When you’re climbing the wrong ladder
Should you continue just for the sake of it? Just so you can ‘know’ that all of your past effort wasn’t ‘for nothing’?
Should you waste the next 50 years just because you don’t want to ‘waste’ the last 5?
Maybe you think that if you decide to change careers it means that you need to admit that a decision you made in the past wasn’t the right one. But that’s not true. You made the best decision you could based on the knowledge and information that you had at the time.
But now you have new knowledge and information – why not use it?
Maybe you can imagine the critics who doubted your decision coming back to point and laugh and say “I told you so”. But so what? If this is the reason you’re going to waste the next 50 years – so no one will say “I told you so” – then maybe you need to have a look at your priorities.
I’m not trying to tell you that if you see a shiny object you should chase it or if things get though then you should just give up and try something else.
I’m trying to tell you that if you want to change careers, if there is something else out there that will make you come alive, and the only reason you’re not pursuing it is because you don’t want all of your past effort to be ‘for nothing’ – change.
Great post. I was thinking about something similar to this the other day. Many times we are afraid of making career changes, but this is the time of our lives to make these changes!
Thank you and you’re exactly right – when you’re in your twenties is the best time to change, especially if the only thing holding you back is the fact that you don’t want to ‘waste’ the time if you’ve already invested! You’re only going to ‘waste’ more time as the years go on!
I love this. I am currently thinking about switching careers and this really speaks to me. I don’t know what I want to do, I just know that what I am currently doing is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. For now, I am just trying to figure it out.
Thanks for your comment – I really appreciate it!
I am honestly in exactly the same boat as you – I feel lost and I know in my gut that what I’m setting myself up to do in the future (with my study) won’t be fulfilling but I don’t know what will be!
I think almost all of us struggle with this, even though it may not appear that way from the outside. I love Steve Jobs’ quote that says “if you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart you’ll know when you find it”.
So don’t settle. Don’t resign yourself to doing something that you don’t love doing. You deserve to spend everyday doing what you love, even if you don’t know what that is yet. Don’t listen to the people who say that you can’t enjoy work and that “that’s just the way it is”. Know that you deserve so much more than that and just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll get there 🙂
Aaah this is such a great post! I am going through this exact position in my life at the moment and your post has made me really think about what I want. Everyone treats life as if we get to do it all again but we don’t. This is it. Yesterday will never happen again. I’m 20 and I have a job as an accountant which, I don’t mind (it’s not always as boring as everyone thinks!) and it does pay very, very well, but, do I love it? I’m not too sure. I count down the hours until I can go home, the days until the weekend and dread Monday morning. My dream is to be a make-up artist. I would love to travel the world doing photo shoots and create masterpieces. But is that really realistic? What happens if I quit my totally reliable and very well paid job to become a make up artist and then can’t get any work and end up without a job? Something I have thought about is maybe learning make-up artistry on the side and doing it as more of a hobby? All about weighing up the pros and cons I suppose!
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