I chose “theme” over “principle” because I do not presume to know how everyone should manage their careers. This is an evolving page that I will update as my thinking advances. To make it here, something has to strike me as very important. Things like “interview well” don’t make it. I will develop each theme in more detail in a post. This is just the highlights. As always, I’d like your feedback on the list.
1) Follow your passions – This can come off as trite, I know. But truly you will be spending the majority of your waking hours working for many, many years. All things being equal, wouldn’t you rather be happy (or at least not depressed)?
2) Work to understand what you want – This is not static, our wants and desires change. My perspective is very different w/ children than it was before I had children. Stay on top of what it is that really motivates you.
3) Manage your financial life carefully (and understand the career consequences of not doing so) – If you are financially flexible, with excellent savings then you are in control. If you are dependent on your next paycheck to make your mortgage then you are beholden to your employer. Enough said.
3) “It Depends” – Everyone wants to have the “9 universal laws of xyz” and other such nonsense (in my opinion). Each person and career situation has complexity and is unusually not a “simple” answer as to what to do. As the title states, “it depends…”
4) Nothing comes “easy” – Some things may seem easy to others. In my experience there’s a lot of hard work over time that has been invisible to others, both in practice and committed effort in actual situations. Dig a little deeper and you’ll usually find that it’s amazing how lucky the hard workers are.
5) Doing matters – I am always amazed at how much more successful active people are than passive people. In this I don’t mean active like people off the cover of some outdoors magazine, scaling a rock and making me feel like a slug. Rather, I mean active mentally, curious, committed to turning ideas into actions and willing to take some level of risk. Without this a lot of other things don’t matter.
In case you can’t tell, I’m big on personal responsibility for career management. My final word on themes is to be your own judge of what works for you. This blog represents what I think. Breadth and multiple perspectives are important. This is just one. Make this part of your process, but find your own voice.