Walking through the streets of Mountain View last week heading to a meeting at a large tech company that does search very well, I got hit with a major sense of déjà vu. It was a feeling of “Where the hell am I and what the hell am I doing here?” I started thinking a bit about why is this déjà vu for me? Why am I always stumbling along doing shit that I have never done before in a place I’ve never been?
Answer: Because I chose this life.
Over the last 10 years I’ve had 8 different jobs (4 in the Army, 3 at Morgan Stanley, and now my startup). This much I know is true, it is very painful, both personally and professionally to reset yourself to STUPID every 14 months. But following the pain comes pleasure, reward, and growth. You earn the confidence to head into the unknown and manage chaos.
If you are under 30 and have been in the same job for more than 3 years, think about moving. Challenge your mind, your technical skills, and your personal skills by doing something different (ok, exceptions: you are a professional athlete, Mark Zuckerburg, or Ke$ha).
It’s the same dynamic seen in working out. If you do the same exercise over and over again, your muscles will adapt and your strength building will plateau. Not only do different jobs provide you with different mental and social exercises, they also provide you with different workout coaches. You learn new ways to motivate, be motivated, overcome resistance, and work with teams.
These are some of the core building blocks you need to form a solid foundation for life. Between the ages of 21 and 35 is your chance to make sure your foundation is strong. But some fair warnings before you run off and start career-hopping. Know these things:
1) You will make less money (in the short term)
2) You will sleep less (meh)
3) You will worry more (not fun)
4) Your friends and family will see less of you (the best ones will understand and be patient)
Choose your path, but choose it early. As a 21 year old, pick the man or woman you want to be at 35, and act accordingly. Don’t let the river of life take you where it wants. Paddle your boat, get on land, and walk to the river you want to be in.
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