Focus on What You Don’t Want

isaacIt’s really stressful for most young (and old!) people to feel the need to pick the career or job and plot a path to it. How are you supposed to know yourself so well in the present, and know so much about what’s out there, let alone predict what your future self will want in a future world with unknown possibilities?

Relax. With rare exception, it’s probably a bad idea to try to pick the one specific thing and try to get there. You might be better making a list of general categories of activity and creativity that you enjoy, are good at, and/or you see as valuable to get you to some other end (wealth, free time, etc.) Even that can be daunting. Here’s an easier approach: focus on what you don’t like and know you want to avoid.

Make a list of all the things you simply can’t stand, are bad at, or see little value in. Anything not on that list is fair game for experimentation. Go out and get broad experience with the express goal of discovering more stuff you don’t like and adding it to the list. As that list grows, the arena of what’s fair game narrows. Any step within that range is a step in the right direction, and each step helps clarify and reduce the possible next steps. You’ll probably never have it so narrowed that there is only one good next step, and that’s a good thing.

You don’t know what might happen as you and the world change, but the sooner you can figure out where you’re not in the zone, the faster you can start mining in places likely to have a mother-load.

Isaac Morehouse is president of Praxis. This post originally ran on the Praxis Blog.

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