To figure out what you want to do, you have to understand who you are. The difficulty is that “figuring out who you are” is an ever-moving target. Once you’ve done something that you thought you wanted to do, you may find yourself realizing that you want something else.
That’s part of the process.
For example, I started 2018 knowing that I wanted to be working in education. At the moment, I thought that being a teacher would help me gain exposure to what exactly that meant. While being a teacher for a year, I loved working with students and learning about the classroom — but I realized I wanted to do something more in education. Something at the cutting edge. So I decided that being a traditional teacher wasn’t what I wanted.
I didn’t “waste” my time as a teacher. In fact, pursuing something I had a genuine interest in was an amazing learning experience, which led me to my next pursuit — starting a company in education innovation. In fact, being a teacher was a far more valuable use of my time than being a consultant would ever have been, even if I would have been paid nearly four times as much.
Money and prestige are an illusion.
We’re attracted to jobs that pay us a lot of money. But is that really the focus of your first job out of college? If it is — great. You know yourself and your values well enough to start forging down that path. But I think our first job (and any subsequent job) should be about finding the things that we care about.
People are motivated by lots of different things — and that’s part of what makes the world such a diverse and beautiful place. Maybe you want to help empower others. Maybe you want to solve complex and intellectually stimulating problems. Maybe you just want to work with your hands. The possibilities are endless — and none are mutually exclusive. You just have to continue discovering (and changing) yours.