Changing careers is normal and actually better!

Changing careers is normal and actually better!


When we come into work, our mission every day is to ask you guys tons and tons of questions so that you have a place to share your opinions and a platform to spread your voice and we love doing that. But for this series we wanted to go behind those questions and figure out why you guys were voting the way that you were. So a couple of weeks ago we asked you guys two questions that were kind of related to each other. one was whether or not you knew what you wanted to major in before you got to college, and the second was whether or not you’d ever be willing to switch careers. For knowing what you wanted to major in, over 50% said you absolutely knew what you wanted to study you were already set, had your career planned, everything was good But on the flip side of that, almost 60% of you said that you’d be willing to switch careers at some point in your life. So that was kind of ironic to me because if you know what you want to major in and you know what you want to do for the rest of your life why then would the majority of you guys feel that you would want to switch careers? it seemed kind of contradictory So in seeking out answers to why that
conundrum might be taking place we found the author David Epstein who wrote this book called “Range.” David currently lives in DC so in order to go and talk
to him I got up very early one morning 5 a.m. specifically, and got on the Amtrak
to go all the way from New York City down to Washington DC [cool music] I’m sitting here in front of the National Mall
with no makeup on, gotta love it and I just gotta say this is
pretty freakin cool that I’m in DC right now so I’m talking to David Epstein
today which I’m very intimidated to do because he seems awesome and has written
two books and I’m pretty sure both of which have been bestsellers and this book that I’m talking to him about today is called “Range” which is basically a
counterpoint to the idea that you need to specialize early and pick your
passion as soon as you’re like 2 years old and then dedicate your whole life to
it because that’s the only way that you’ll get good at it or be able to actually master it,
like the 10,000 hours of practice rule he basically bucks that
and says no that’s like that’s not the case look at all of these people over
the course of history that have tackled really complex problems and have been
able to do so by drawing on experience and expertise in all these different areas So, per title of the book his point is you should have Range I guess one of the not so secret secrets
of both of my focuses that’s partly investigating things I became interested
in because of my own life trajectory so David has had a ton of different careers he’s been an athlete, he’s been a
scientist, he’s been an investigative reporter, a sports reporter and now an
author I asked David whether or not his own career path in his clear range in his different careers influenced him writing this book there’s a long time where I wondered, when I was sort of changing things I would study or changing careers if there was something like wrong with me, as I couldn’t stick with things and so all the ways my career developed was never anything I expected it was responding to things that happened I realized that my advantage was what some people call skill stacking which is like you don’t
have to be the singular best at any particular thing but if you can
accumulate an unusual array of experiences and overlap them then you
can sort of create this ground where you’re not really competing with anybody
but yourself there’s this research in range called the Dark Horse project these two researchers at Harvard were studying successful people the dependent variable is actually fulfillment, not success a lot of these people were very successful in objective ways but fulfillment was what they were interested in. what they found in these people, the reason it’s called the Dark Horse Project, is because when they invited these people in it just for informational interviews initially the people would say well “Don’t tell people
to do what I did in my career because I started in law school or whatever and it
wasn’t a good fit so I left and I left another job, and I kept zig-zagging around, I was behind or maybe I realized what I wanted to do didn’t exist so I had to start something, so I came out of nowhere” and their common trait was this sort of
short term planning instead of saying “Here is what I shall do for ten or twenty years” they’d say “Here’s where I am right now here my skills and interests, here the
opportunities in front of me. I’m gonna do this one and maybe a year from now I’ll change because I will have learned something about myself or my options.” and they just keep doing them until they arrive at a place where they are fulfilled. part of what David explained was when you take someone who has a very thorough understanding of science and you put them in the context
of Sports Illustrated suddenly you’re the genius that knows
everything about science. and that really stuck out to me because that is so true when you know
about a particular subject that nobody else in your field or your job or
your major knows about you are the unique expert at that point because you
have an understanding for this subject that everybody else knows about plus
context from something different and when you think about range in that way
it becomes a much easier concept to kind of take hold of so once I got a better understanding for David and his career and why he came to write this book my main question was how the heck are students supposed to actually get through their education with this advice in mind? high school students frankly don’t have a ton of choice in their life like a lot of their choices are circumscribed but there’s something you mentioned that I want to highlight which is this idea that there
is this perfect match for you it’s like the career version of the
soulmate idea that there’s this singular person out there for you and this is what Herminia Ibarra, one of the researchers I write about she studies how people find “good match quality” which is what economists call the degree of fit between their interests, their abilities, and the work that they do super important for your happiness and performance she calls us the true self model
this idea that there is a singular you that should be doing a singular thing out in the world whereas all the research suggests that is not the case there are many possible views As one of my favorite writers, Haruki Murakami says we’re all like a raindrop that fell in one trajectory and assume that’s the only one that ever could have been but it’s not the case you can iterate, I mean I’ve gone through different versions of myself and I’m not that old remember that we learn by doing things or as Herminia says we learn we are in practice not in theory and what she means is that there’s this whole industry of personality quizzes
and career gurus who want to convince you that just by introspecting and thinking about yourself you can find your true self and know exactly what you should do but in fact all the research shows that you learn who you are by trying things and then reflecting on them still though it’s important to recognize that for pretty much all students in the entire country you guys are beholden to the education system there’s only so much
freedom that you have to study all these things and just kind of be who you want to be and like it all just sounds like a dream world for people who love to learn and David fully recognized that I don’t think it’s totally fair to put the burden on individual
students they’re in the system systems get the result of they’re designed for
and our education system was designed for an industrial economy so I think we
have a mismatch between our education system and the world we’re actually preparing people for at the moment and I don’t think the whole burden can be on
students to just buck the system basically that we need systemic
change Students are a little bit in the position of having to play the game
right it’s being forced on them, so I think the best thing they can often do is whatever they’re doing early on since there’s this great return to
learning about yourself just be more reflective about the things you’re doing and I think the realization that you’re more often in the position of preparing people for jobs that don’t exist yet in many cases means that the only thing you can really prepare them for is this kind of conceptual thinking that they can then apply to different types of work another thing that David said that I
absolutely loved was there are many possible yous and that people tend to
think that there’s only one path and almost like a destiny that you were
meant to follow but that’s really not the case he makes the argument that you
could be many different things in your lifetime so why not try to find as many
of those as you can? you don’t really know your talents
until you have to try to use them one of the sort of major
revelations for my first book was that we think of talent as what we see right now and we think of people as being on a stable trajectory so if someone is
better than you in something today then you’ll fell forever separated
from them because they’re just on a different trajectory turns out not to be the case one of my absolute favorite things I think I’ve heard all year was David saying that where you go to college is not even one of the top ten most important decisions you make in your lifetime he said it’s not even close I think they just need to keep in mind that you should not feel like you’re in a position of choosing a singular thing and in fact what you
should be doing early in education is trying to get the maximum amount of
learning about yourself what your interests are, what your abilities are, what sorts of things are out there but that’s not really the message you usually get about education Drill down into this class because you need to go to a particular college which sets you up for the trajectory for your rest
of your life which is blatantly untrue the college you go to, I guarantee is not one of the 10 most important decisions you’ll make in your life not even close! one piece of advice that
David gave that I really loved was that you should only compare yourself to who
you were yesterday and that is just such a comforting thought to me because rather than looking at other people or looking at who you even want to be 5 or
10 years down the road David acknowledged that you make
changes in your life you have different preferences that will alter who you end up becoming years and years down the line so really all you need to judge to
see whether or not you’re on the right path is whether or not you responded to what happened yesterday in a way that makes you happy and that’s all you need
to do there is a limitless amount of material to make you feel behind [from behind camera] that’s such a good way to put it You can go on Instagram and no matter what you have done in the world you can feel bad about yourself and feel like you’re behind not only because
there’s so much out there right but also it’s like the Olympics of life where you’re looking at the few best people who have been called from the whole world or
that’s what they’re portraying or whatever it’s not real life
so I think that’s dangerous it’s like you can outsource your self-discovery to these other paths that you’re seeing that are that are not you you’re only seeing the finished product, and a curated and not often true finished product, and so for me, and I don’t think there is a perfect timing because people are so different and again, I have no idea what I’m going to be when I grow up how much credibility would I have if I was like “you need to figure out what you want to do”? none and I know people are increasingly going to have to reinvent themselves multiples times they’re going to have multiple careers and I think to me one of the subthemes of “Range” is that sometimes the things you can do to cause the fastest short term advantage or get a head start can actually undermine your long term ability David ends his book with a one-liner piece of advice because he says oftentimes people
ask him to just kind of sum it all up and send them on their way and that one
piece of advice is to not feel behind but as nice as that sounds my question
for him was we’re in a world where we are constantly already comparing
ourselves to others if not already comparing ourselves to people five and
ten years further in their careers how is it humanly possible to not feel
behind? don’t compare yourself to people on the Internet as much That’s not helpful and what you’re seeing is not the truth it’s highly curated and so don’t compare yourself to those people they’re not you, you’re not as
much of a rush as you think you’re in and you’re traveling a singular journey, right so I think it’s a time where it’s very easy to have FOMO There’s this area of research by this guy Barry Schwartz that talks about the tyranny of choice he talks about people being maximizers where if you’re intent on getting everything in your life and you have all this material online you can go look at what other people are doing there’s infinite – you’ll always feel unhappy because there’s infinite opportunity to keep saying “oh it could be a little better, like this person” but actually you shouldn’t do that you should actually, this might sound bad but you should actually have a rubric good
enough for now and just keep going from good enough to good enough and things get better as an accumulation of good enough as you learn about yourself don’t scroll
through all the pictures trying to maximize everything in your life focus more on short term planning there’s no sense in feeling behind, you’re never as behind as you think you are so just try to find ways to remind yourself not to feel behind maybe take a moment here and there to take a detox day from social media or more than a day ideally, just remember that that’s a very curated world, your path is
different than all those people all in all my trip to DC and talking to
David was absolutely incredible honestly somewhat life-changing this book and David in person truly are incredible and like I’m not getting paid
to say that, I really loved reading this book and I majored in English I love
reading I love writing and this was such a good read because you learn about
so many different figures in history that people often idolized as being the
the perfect image of specialization or of range and you see so much deeper into
how they got their careers where they are and I think my biggest takeaway from
talking to David was that there really is just no right or wrong way to follow
your career path your goals even as strong-willed as they
might be at age 17 if they change by age 23 who
cares? like you just have to live your life and find a path that works for you based off of what’s happening in front of you right now and embracing those twists and turns ends up making you all the better so tell us what your path has been
we’d love to hear from you in terms of what you want to major in,
what you majored in and what you’re doing now whether or not they’re
different whether or not you’re experiencing a career shift right now all of that sounds kind of professional and dumb but everybody’s experiencing it
so we might as well talk about it and if there’s anything else that you guys want
to know everything there is to know about we do these episodes every two
weeks so comment below let us know and we’ll go after it for you

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