Simple career advice

I have changed my jobs several times and I have struggled with the decision every time. Am I doing the right thing? Should I stay or try something else? Am I growing quickly enough? There’s a lot of career advice out there, but they can be incompatible, overwhelming, and unhelpful. So I have simplified it for myself here.

As with every life question, the answer starts with the big why. Understand life and decide what you want to do and experience. And then follow it. The best life hack is clarity and intent.  My scorecard and purpose in life are to experience peace and joy for myself and for others. 

Career or profession is “what we do for others”. Career is not a separate or siloed-off section of life - it is embedded and entangled in it, ideally harmoniously. 


A career or profession that is harmonious with my life purpose (1) increases peace and joy for others, (2) while doing something that’s joyful and interesting for myself, and also enabling or not disrupting other peaceful & joyful activities.  I don’t want to trade off my peace and joy for increasing others' as I don’t think that’s necessary* or optimal because I feel and do better when I’m enjoying what I do. 


If I want to grow in my career, then I’d either (1) deliver more peace and joy, or (2) more joy in the activity or enabling other activities, or both. But the maximizer approach - seeking the “best impact” and “best joy” - is never-ending, all-consuming, makes us miserable, and compromises my main goal of experiencing peace and joy. You don’t have to grow - you can just maintain if you are happy. Be a satisficer and focus on making directionally correct moves.

I can grow and maintain by (a) changing the problem (more interesting, needed, underinvested, etc.) I work on, or (b) by changing how I work on the problem (more effective - invention, skills, leverage; more fun, more compatible team and setup, etc.), or both.

You don’t always know where to start or how to grow. You will make mistakes, move backward and sideward. Try not to get sucked into pursuing side outcomes like money (beyond a point), what society thinks is hot or impactful as you will lose yourself, fool yourself, and miss the main goal. Keep it simple, clear, and intentional. Define, explore, try, learn, adjust and repeat. 

[1]A potential exception is when I’m losing my peace because I’m struggling with basic needs.