Human beings are quickly distracted by shiny objects. How often do you see that in your daily life?
The world is filled with interesting things to pursue, do, or acquire. We all have something that we want at any given time.
We want more money, a new house, car, smartphone, travel the world, get married, write a book, start a business, get a new job, a six-pack, invest in the stock market — and preferably, we want to do everything at the same time.
That’s how most of us behave. We have an endless list of things we desire. And we’re bad at making decisions. The result is that we have to deal with an inner battle.
I think we all know that we can’t achieve everything. An that’s especially true for your career. We all want to have a career that we love. We want to turn our passion into a career.
But because we want it all, we’re not going anywhere close to that goal. One of the main things I’ve learned is that more does not equal better.
Limit Your Choices
And yet, I constantly find myself taking on more work. Why does that happen? I think it’s in our nature. We always desire more than we can actually achieve. Our choices are limitless.
In today’s world, we can almost pick any career that we want. There are of course limitations to our capabilities. But as long as we stay within what Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger call our “circle of competence,” we can turn our passion into a career.
But that’s hard because we are quick to move out of that circle. We want to do things that are not in line with our knowledge, skills, experience, and strengths.
I’ve learned that this is a recipe for disaster. If you want to have a mediocre career and frustrating life, you should follow your desires. But if you want to be more calculated about your life, it’s better to limit your choices.
It’s basically the same idea that Peter Drucker had. He said that all successful careers are built on strengths. Watch this video to learn more about how you can figure out your dream career:
Follow This Simple Rule
When assessing career opportunities, say this to yourself: “If something doesn’t fall within my circle of competence, I will say no to it.”
That drastically decreases the options for your career. The idea behind this comes from reading the classic book on choices, The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. He says:
“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”
The lesson we can draw from his book is that more options cause brain malfunction. We simply become paralyzed when we have too many options. That means we must get better at saying no.
I struggle with this all the time. I know damned well that I can’t do everything. If you look at people who have achieved some sort of success in any field, you’ll notice that they succeeded at one thing.
How many people can you think of who succeeded at more than one profession or skill? Forget about historical figures like Leonardo Da Vinci or any other genius. Most people achieve any form of success or recognition in that one field.
What does that tell us? They did one thing, and they did it well.
Everybody Has Strengths
I think the primary reason we suck at making choices is that we hate to miss out on all the great things life has to offer. When you pick one thing, you’re also saying no to many other things.
And that’s a reality we can’t live with. But we need to accept that and settle for what we have. We should stop thinking about all the other possibilities in the world. Barry Schwartz put it well:
“The alternative to maximizing is to be a satisficer. To satisfice is to settle for something that is good enough and not worry about the possibility that there might be something better.”
At some point we must stop thinking about the endless possibilities. We should accept who we are in life. The truth is that we suck at most things.
And if you’re passionate about those things, why not turn it into a hobby? This view of your career is extremely liberating.
Instead of trying to be something you’re not, you’re accepting your own limitations. More importantly, you’re also accepting your strengths.
And yes, everybody has strengths!
Remember to think about what you want out of your career and life. For example, I want to wake up excited to get to work. I want to do something I love and am good at. Sometimes, you will learn to love the things you are good at. And sometimes you get good at what you love.
Either way, this is your career and life. Why not make the best out of it? Don’t settle for mediocrity or a frustrating career. You owe that to yourself.