Recently my cousin indicated he has more or less reached the "peak" of his first job. As in, the cruelly disillusioning realities of unreasonable demands inherent to real-world jobs. Forever insatiable for the energies of naive young people joining the workforce (especially since the seasoned seniors know how to dodge with agility), it has sapped him enough to fully understand the true significance of the "work/life balance" theory.
And so he too wants to believe in that popular myth that the grass is greener on the other side, and is ready to join billions around the world in that rarely-ending cycle of job switching. The problem is, he does not know what he wants to do next.
My cousin's predicament is a very common one. The nature of his job had him dealing with a broad range of sectors, but he himself not being in any industry, leaves him a specialist of none. Nor any that was really to his specific liking. There are a great number of work positions that truly make good use of the generalist, but unfortunately does not carve a very tangible career path. Not to say that is a bad thing, for I am still amazed how some individuals are able to switch jobs that span vastly-unrelated industries with such ease. Adaptability is one of the key strengths of humankind.
Nonetheless, my advice to him was actually a very simple question.
In what way do you wish to impact and bring value to other people's lives?
Part of the problem that I have observed in most people, regarding their lack of affinity to a particular profession, is that they are simply trying to satisfy their own needs and wants. And it gets even simpler at times. "I want enough money to party and shop and enjoy life with my friends", "I want to live in a condo/landed property", "pay the bills". And whatever self-centred else.
Those certainly are not wicked thoughts per se. (although too much selfish actions can lead to hurting other people, which sadly happens alot) Ultimately we do live a large part of our lives to meet our own desires. The thing to note here is such life goals do not formulate a concrete plan on how to go about achieving them. There are unlimited number of ways in life to carry out to reach the same end game. So in this kind of pursuit, there isn't much guidance on what type of work (let's just leave the topic of investment/gambling out of scope here...) one should delve in and get good enough at it to reach the higher stages as time goes by. The intrinsic motivation simply isn't there.
What I have discovered for myself, as well as confirmed it with most of the strongest personalities of the world, is that it becomes exceedingly easy to identify the line of jobs and career to pursue if I put not myself as a target, but instead identifying an area in the lives of other people which could really do with some improvement. The reality of "some" equates to a tremendous lot, thus fueling enough opportunities to last the whole of my life.
I love computers, and I am inspired by how technology with each passing generation continues to improve our daily lives into ever higher levels of productivity and bonding us all over the world closer and closer. The "magic" that makes all these possible, on top of the hardware infrastructure, is software. Software runs the lives of the modern world, direct or indirect. Software keeps bringing in new abstractions of ideas and efficient ways to organise and use information. Software assists us with the nitty gritty calculations and thus empowers us to make decisions and act with more effectiveness. Software, for a very very long time to come, will be a key component critical to evolving how people think and live.
That is the power I see, and that is the power I wish to attain. The power to write software to help them make their lives and work just that bit easier. The path is long, and I had long decided when I was young that computing technologies is my way of life and choice of career. This seeds my choices in how I grow my life, and I am not easily swayed from this journey.
And so, I continue to preach that one can attain a clear vision of the future if they would just let go of their ownselves, and look at their fellow beings with earnst yearning to make their lives better. And recognise what it is that needs to be better.