Please Stop Treating Your Career As A Race
Do you ever feel that you are stuck in your career? Do you ever feel that you are riding a bicycle whereas your peers are zipping past you in their Tesla(s)? Do you feel that that your career has become the Friends theme song sans the friends, the fountain, or even the spotlight.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month
Or even your year, but
It’s everything you imagined your career not to be.
You see the scrolls of new shiny learning certificates appear in an infinite scroll on Linkedin, and you feel like the only one left behind.
You see your friends, and colleagues picking up venture deals, fancy new titles, salaries to feed an entire village, new degrees, and you think to yourself where did you go wrong?
How can they achieve so much so soon? How did they get the clarity of purpose to follow their dreams? When did they outfox you in the speed of recognition, and fame?
You feel smaller. You feel your career or life doesn’t amount to much as you haven’t earned the same markers of success like your colleagues.
The problem is not them. Also, not really you. But in the thought process of success being linear. I’m sorry to break it to you, but it isn’t.
We imagine our career and its success to be one smooth line like the one in an exponential curve whereas in reality, it is anything but a smooth curve.
Our life is a collection of endless dots — some big, some small — spread out on the canvas of space and time, like the infinite stars on a dark moonless sky.
But here is the problem — Our brains are meaning or pattern making machines. We constantly connect these random dots to derive meaning (say hello to survivorship bias). Because let’s face it — if science has taught us anything, it is that the world, as we know it, isn’t random.
And guess what — we don’t stop there. We then connect dots in other people’s careers, and then indulge in the most sadistic thing ever conjured up by our sinister minds — compare our graphs with theirs. Because what’s better than one career’s graph? Yes, you guessed it — two. Ahh…the joys we find in self-inflicted pain. The biggest disservice that you can do to yourself is to compare the contours of your life with another.
Please don’t compare. No one is running. Your career or life’s not a race. You are not competing with anyone. If it makes you feel any better, you are not lagging behind in any race. And even if the race is there, it is imaginary — you are not going to win a trophy when all of this ends.
You are fine just the way you are. Yes, you. Yes, the one who first spends copious amounts of time in deciding whether to binge watch Mirzapur, or
Queen’s Gambit. And then spends the entire weekend binge watching either or both of them. Okay, while we are at it, please watch Queen’s Gambit — it’s lovely. Thank me later.
You don’t have to be constantly on a career boosting treadmill. Every single minute of your waking life doesn’t have to be squeezed into a knowledge juice full of pulp.
You should just create as many interesting, and varied size dots on your canvas of life. You don’t have to morph them into some sort of a curve to validate first your existence, or knowledge, and then compare how far along you are when compared to someone else.
Let the dots spread far out. It’s your canvas. And the only one you got.
Relax. Breathe. Enjoy the ride, will you?