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What should you do with your life?

*Dons teaching hat* I took the principles of easy-to-read web copy to the nth degree with this career advice post for millennials. Notice how the use of short sentences and lots of white space draws your eye into the article and smoothly down the page.

What should you do with your life?

Obviously, I have no idea.

I don’t know you or anything about your personal circumstances.

I don’t know where you live, what resources you have, or any of the real or psychological obstacles you have to overcome.

I’m going to assume you’re one of the fortunate ones. Someone whose basic needs for food, shelter and security are met every day.

Never forget how lucky you are.

To even have the chance to ask the question, ‘What should I do with my life?’ is quite a privilege.

 

But when you’re clueless about what to do for a career that kind of shit doesn’t really help much.

Sorry.

When I was a kid I wanted to be too many things. A footballer. An astronaut. A rally driver. A chess player. A lawyer. A doctor. An historian. A psychologist.

The choices were endless. And I never committed to any of them.

I was afraid to make a mistake. To take the wrong road.

No one told me that this wasn’t a one time decision.

That over the course of my life I would do many different things. Have many different careers.

In the olden days it was different, of course. Then a lot of people had a ‘job for life’.

They went to school (sometimes), they got a job (often what their parents did), they worked in that job for x years, and then they retired.

Sounds simple. On paper.

This way of living, invented at the time of the industrial revolution, gave people the sense that life was linear.

That you proceed in a straight line from birth to death.

But life is not like that.

Life is organic.

It grows. You grow. Things change. You change.

Many in the business world are still stuck in industrial mode. And this is where your generation has an advantage over mine.

Your generation already understands organic.

It’s how the internet works.

I’ve been many things in the 20 odd years since I graduated.

A barperson. A kitchen assistant. A TEFL teacher. A runner. A TV researcher. A film agent’s assistant. A natural language scriptwriter. A stand up comedian. A post-grad psychology student. An advertising copywriter. A mentor. A creative team manager.

And I’m still only 45.

There’s a reasonably good chance I’ve got 30 years of career left.

I’ll level with you. On one hand, that’s terrifying.

But on the other (despite the threat of AI), it’s pretty exciting.

Who knows what I’ll have the chance to do in the future?

For you, at the start of your rich, interesting, meandering journey, it’s about figuring out what to do first.

What you shouldn’t do is sit in your bedroom for a year and try to think your way to some kind of perfect answer.

That’s what I did, obviously.

Take it from me, there’s a very good chance your calling doesn’t exist.

A much better plan is to actually engage with the real world.

Follow your instincts. Try things out. Learn how business works. Do the scary thing. Experiment and reflect on what you learn.

Begin to get a sense of what really interests you, what your strengths are and where your natural talents lie.

When you find something that makes you not have the urge to check social media for a couple of hours, pay attention. This is as good as it gets. It’s called being ‘in flow’.

One final thing, try to give your parents a financial break as soon as you can. A lot sooner than I did.

Okay, enough with the advice.

I wish you all the very best on your journey.

Good luck and bon voyage.

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