In the last post, I decided to begin from when you have identified your needs. If you are like me, you have a whole page written down of needs, and that is no easy task to begin tackling! I also encourage you to go and write down ALL the different careers that you have considered in your life, keeping in mind what I’ve said before and will repeat again, that your career you. You are not a tax accountant, it is just what you do.
Once you have all your needs and all of your careers written down in front of you, take a good look at them. Do you see any patterns? Does something jump out at you that you didn’t before? One thing this exercise does is that it lets you look at your mind from above, instead of being in your everyday cycles where sometimes you don’t know why you do certain things. This lets you not only see the cycles, but the big picture. All of your dreams on one page.
If you are like me, the answer wasn’t overly obvious. I have a “Leonardo da Vinci” personality which is on the opposite side of the spectrum from what they call a “Mozart” mind. My success comes from experience in numerous fields and I equally strive to be proficient in as much as I can and learn many different subjects. My career map looked like an utter mess until I came to realize that it was a blessing in disguise. If you have always stayed in a relatively unchanging sphere of jobs because you have always known what you wanted to do, cheers! Whichever personality you have or if you fall in between doesn’t matter as long as you can clearly look at your needs all at once.
Now comes the part when you must break the chains of society.
Suppose one of your needs is the feeling that you can provide for yourself with say, your own business. Unfortunately, you work two jobs and support a family and have hardly a spare moment to yourself. It is easy to say that “this path is not for me, I don’t have the time”. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to be a pilot, but you are almost legally blind and would never be accepted to fly in the first place. It’s easy to give in to society’s pressure that the career you want is just not for you. Or maybe you have no idea what you want and work day job to day job with no definite direction. Maybe your need for safety and comfort keeps you from going on the adventures you have dreamed of – also one of your needs. Society, in a way, likes confined minds. Confined minds follow tribes and are easy to faction, easy to categorize. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “for nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure.”
These are very human dilemmas that I believe carry a lot of beauty. Reading a Roman dialog called De Amicitia written by Cicero, one of the characters asks what are the parameters of friendship and what is the role of friendship. If you listed “friendship” as one of your needs, you might want to pick up this dialog! One of the most striking parts is when one character states that virtue should never be sacrificed for a friend because virtue, by definition, is an open door to the right type of friends. Now suppose you want to be a judge in the Supreme Court, but you also want a ton a friends (which, chances are, you won’t have). Now what do you do? Instead of feeling overwhelmed, stand back and think about the beauty and the multi-dimensionality of life. These dilemmas are inborn in us as humans, but we all have the capacity to advance beyond them.
You can wallow in this cloud of needs for as long as you want, but if you want to advance through the door, you must do something courageous. You must risk it all or risk none. You are standing at the door, not knowing what is on the other side, but it is the only door. Advance or retreat?