Where to go from here? CHAINSAWS ON FIRE.

Making Choices that Scare You

This week, I sat in a panel discussion with 5 recent college graduates, all working at the same company as myself. The topic was career development, and each of them shared their perspectives on the subject, along with the experiences they’d had on their respective paths. Though all of the advice we received was valuable in its own right, one quote in particular stood out:

“Always take the offer that scares you more.”

Part of why this idea struck me is that it’s starkly different from every other piece of advice you normally receive as an impending/recent college graduate. In my experience, most people advise you to figure out a plan, and then to make it happen. This challenge-based mentality suggests a sacrifice of not knowing where you’ll end up, but going along for the ride and learning everything you can along the way.

There are many different rationales for this manner of thinking, but the one the speaker chose was this: if you take a job you aren’t afraid of, you’ll probably do well, but you won’t be challenged or learn very much as a result. If you’re offered a position you feel you aren’t prepared for at all, you’ll likely be surrounded by people much smarter than you, and you will learn and grow immensely throughout the duration of your employment. Every day will bring about new challenges, and by the time you’ve gotten truly comfortable with what you’re doing, you can move on to your next adventure and start the process anew.

Where to go from here? CHAINSAWS ON FIRE.
Disclaimer: Some types of fear are probably healthier than others.

Personally, I believe that this attitude could be applied to any aspect of your life, even outside of any sort of career. Every day, you have the opportunity to grow into a more complete and objectively better person than you were the day before, and you do that by stepping outside your comfort zone. If you don’t push yourself, you don’t evolve, and you fall into a form of personal stagnancy - and once you fall into that state, you lose the game.

This being said, this is the sort of mentality that should be taken with a grain of salt. Just because something scares you doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s an opportunity to grow: there are plenty of frightening opportunities out there, but it’s the wrong type of fear. The fear you should embrace is that which you can utilize once you overcome - an obstacle that better equips you to chase your passions and follow your dreams. Taking a position simply because it doesn’t seem to fit you is generally ill-advised, and could result in more confusion than it’s worth.

You know, he probably SAW it coming at some point...
This is not professional development. This is early retirement, at best.

Next time you’re faced with a choice between two paths, think first about what you want to drive towards, and then think about which of the choices you’re most scared of. Chances are, the offer that scares you most will be the one with the highest reward, and you’ll never find yourself wishing you had taken the easier road.

If you're the guy on the left, read below.

What It Means To Have a Plan In Your 20s

Ask anybody in their 20s what their plan for the rest of their life is, and you’ll likely get a wide range of responses. Whether they’re in college, at their first “real” job, taking time for personal development or any other of a plethora of possibilities, you’re likely to get a broad scope of options that ultimately resolve to the same core message:

“I have no [choice adjective] idea.”

There are so many societal pressures on young adults to have their life together and know exactly what they’re doing with their future, yet there are so few people who truly have it figured out. Every now and again, you ask someone this question and they give you a well-thought out layout of their next few jobs and a near-perfect estimation of where their life is going and exactly how they’re going to get there. I tell people my projected career path, and they often make some sarcastic remark about a “man with a plan” or some similar quip.

There’s a secret about trying to predict your future, though: your plan isn’t going to hold up any better than anybody else’s (or lack thereof). No matter how much planning you do, reality is always there to throw you a curveball that puts your meticulous career orchestration to shame. Many people combat this inevitable truth by crafting a branching roadmap of possibilities based on opportunity and projected failures, allowing them to hit the ground running if and when they get knocked down.

I am a leaf in the wind; watch me soar.
If you get the opportunity, though... you reboot Firefly. Roadmaps be damned.

Does this mean you shouldn’t be finding a direction and taking control of your life? Not in the slightest. By all means, find your passion, translate it into a real-world ambition, and from that, derive the drive with which you realize your dreams. If you have the desire to achieve a vision, any curveball life throws you is a new way to manifest that goal.

Passion is the greatest semblance of a plan you can ever have. It’s an ideal that can’t be killed; a motivating force that becomes the reason why you do what you do (and gives you a leg up in communicating your goals). It pushes you to take risks when you become professionally or personally stagnant, and lets you feel that there’s always something more that you can reach for. Few people ever became truly fulfilled by doing exactly what everybody tells them they should be doing - that is, unless your passion happens to be a 9-5 desk job.

If you're the guy on the left, read below.
...Which isn’t actually unheard of. All the more power to you. I’m serious.

However, if what you’ve just read makes you uncomfortable, I invite you to reflect on your true passion. Find something you love to do, and chase it. Capitalize on the vast amount of opportunity in the world, and think outside the box: often, the greatest opportunity to do what you love is found where you least expect it. Pay attention to industries you may not have given a serious thought to before, and think of where you can plug yourself in and create success - both monetarily, and in manifesting your own personal passion.