What is my career?
March 28, 2011 1:33 PM   Subscribe

What did you do when you were in your 20s and trying to find a way to support yourself financially but still had no idea what you wanted to do in terms of a career?

How did you fight the nagging existential fears that somehow there was nothing out there that would satisfy you AND pay you money? What steps did you take to not only get what you want BUT find out what it was you wanted in the first place?

I'm not talking about people who've known since they were kids that they wanted to work at NASA. I mean those of you who by their mid-20s still had no idea what is they should do.

I would love to hear your stories and how you managed to end up in a place where your happy and well-off. Thanks!
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth to Work & Money (31 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
Temping exposes you to a lot of different kinds of work that you never knew existed. Asking about your friends' jobs can do the same. My first career was a goal based on a friend's job and the second was something I picked up from temping and pursued.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 1:37 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm in 40s and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. But I've accepted that what I am pays the bills and takes care of the family. And that's enough, for now.

Not everybody has to be defined by their job. Find other ways to fulfill your life, via hobbies or volunteer work or whatever. You may be one of those people that never loves their job. That is not necessarily a bad thing.
posted by COD at 1:40 PM on March 28, 2011 [13 favorites]

Taught English in China, taught SAT, GRE and LSAT classes.. the first was wonderful fun, the latter of these ended up paying really well and ended up doing both for probably too long, but I'd definitely recommend them to people looking for ways to support themselves while they figure out what their long term goals are.
posted by skewed at 1:41 PM on March 28, 2011

I am having the exact same problem right now. Thank you for posting this!

Ad work, they say, is a well-paying career if you're a creative type who hasn't made it. Whether you want to try something else while you're doing it or not is your call, but it's made me a whole lot less scared of ending up in a box.
posted by CorduroyCorset at 1:41 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ok, I can't really answer your question. I'm 35 and still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. In fact, because I never "knew" I dropped out of college not wanting to waste my time/money on something I wasn't even sure about.

That being said, I am 35 years old now and have a touch of life experience behind me and if I were doing it all over again, I'd do it differently.

This is what I would tell my 20-something self:

Do something ANYTHING. You don't need to "know" what you want to be when you grow up. Don't let that deter you. Find something that fits your personality and interests. There are tons and TONS of jobs and careers. For some reason, in high school, it seems the only careers anyone every heard about were things like, teacher, doctor, lawyer, business. How come no one told me about all those wacky jobs on Dirty Jobs? How come I didn't know I could be a medical examiner? Why was the only option in the law field either a lawyer or a cop? What about a paralegal?

I think you can generally be happy in a career or job that 1. fits your personality and 2. is a good working environment (without tons of drama).

I would make a horrible horrible teacher. I'm just not a kid person. In fact, I'm not a person person. I like solo work. I excelled at being a paralegal - contact with clients was fairly minimal - the attorneys got to deal with them while I got to draft some crazy documents. I loved to write and use the heck out of words, so it was right up my alley. I also love to be organized. So, that job was a really good fit. I worked with good people, I had a genuine interest and talent for the law field and it was quite fulfilling.

So, stick with who you are: extrovert, introvert (me), outdoorsy, indoorsy and find work/careers compatible with that. Don't settle.

Also, don't just do nothing. Keep moving forward, do something.
posted by Sassyfras at 1:47 PM on March 28, 2011 [12 favorites]

I worked at a restaurant for a few years, which gave me plenty of experience when it comes to actually doing stuff & allowed me to meet a bunch of fun people. Then I realized I don't want to work in a restaurant for the rest of my life (I think) so I got a job with a nuclear research company.

The existential fears went away when I realized everything I take seriously is totally absurd. I picked up a copy of Flow and payed attention to what I enjoy doing. I picked up a copy of Man's Search for Meaning and started basing how I live my life on personally developed ideals. I picked up a copy of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind and opened up to meditation.

I realized that I will never know what I'm going to be when I grow up. As long as I enjoy my life in past, present and future I don't give a shit what I am.
posted by Dmenet at 1:48 PM on March 28, 2011 [12 favorites]

I bartended and waited tables in my 20's. I think everybody should bartend or wait tables before they get a real job.

I got to meet a lot of people. Some of them were good examples of how to live a happy life, and some were ... horrible warnings. But learning to deal with all kinds of people has been a valuable skill, even though I don't bartend or wait tables anymore.

Also, sometimes I really made a lot of money, which was nice, since I was basically just drifting along until something better happened. (I did finally go back to school for more education, which got me into the field I'm in now.)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 1:58 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Graduated 1994 with a BA/MA science writing. Made $19k my first year. After six years I saw a financial planner who asked me "what do you think your maximum earning potential will be in your lifetime?" Being a dumbass and uneducated I said $55k and to me, that was a lot of money.

I had no idea healthcare copywriter, esp. in pharma ad industry, people were making double. The problem is I hated that career so I taught myself HTML and basic web principles as well as Photoshop. Got hired as a production artist/project manager and copywriter. Developed skills, made $20k more than I ever did. I was all hoo hoo.

Then I lost my job/salary and wound up taking a cut. But it was still more than I made back when I was uneducated. Then with this last job and staying here + promotions = making more than I ever did.

Salaries ebb and flow within $20k from what I've seen. As long as you can financially make a life on that salary and be happy, which does take trial and error at quite a few positions, all is good.

But most grads I've been seeing (we're talking creative services department) start out with low $50ks. I don't know if that's because of inflation or what but I would have killed to be out of school with 2 degrees and making $50k.

And as for the age I figured out what I loved to do--35. Before that I was all "ooh I want to be a copywriter." Now? Not so much. It's "ooh I want to be a web producer". I figured out I can't do just ONE thing. I need to multitask and definately in a web environment (instead of print).

And there you go. But if I had to do it all again, I probably would have been a graphic designer later web design. Regret that but oh well. Could be worse.
posted by stormpooper at 2:02 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Journeyman bartender. I was able to travel to different places and live there for a while, was always able to find a job (this was late 90s - early 00s), and got to talk to all different sorts of people about what they did for work/kicks/etc., all while pulling down some pretty good cash.
posted by brand-gnu at 2:02 PM on March 28, 2011

My answer in a previous thread sort of applies here. The trick is that it's hard to know what you're going to like (or be like) professionally until you've tried it out. Temping is one way to try on many hats.

P. S. - In the linked answer, the part in italics should read letting his work life happen.
posted by willpie at 2:06 PM on March 28, 2011

Here is the secret: no one really knows what they want to do when they grow up (Paula Poundstone theorized that is why adults ask kids that question -- because we are all still looking for ideas: "Oooh, astronaut. I could do that.")

Schopenhauer wrote a paper called "An Apparent Intention of the Fate of the Individual," in which he says that once you reach a certain age and look back on your life, it all seems as orderly and composed as a novel: chance meetings lead to lifelong relationships, sudden crises turn produce formative moments.

Most of my friends tell me I have the best job EVAR, but I work for an organization that did not hire me until I was almost thirty and which I had never even heard of at twenty (or for several years thereafter). I spent my twenties faffing about and picked up lots of skills which turned out to be useful later (and lots which didn't). But I had fun.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:22 PM on March 28, 2011 [6 favorites]

I worked as an administrative assistant for a non-profit. The job had no advancement possibilities, but it paid decently, the hours were strictly 9 to 5, and it funded some very fun years in New York. I went on to grad school in a completely different field.
posted by Fichereader at 2:30 PM on March 28, 2011

I'm 37 and still trying to figure out the answer to this question. I spent my 20s doing mostly social work types of jobs, and a 2 year stint living in Mexico. I don't regret any of that. What I do regret is pursuing a graduate degree in school counseling because "I knew" that I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. As it turned out, life sometimes has other plans. I finished the degree, spent a hellish year working in an urban school, and was then laid off.

What I've learned along the way is that it's okay to not be sure if you want to do something forever. Most of us have many careers, and you don't have to define yourself solely by what you do for a living. Try out a bunch of different things, but like another mefite said, stick to what seems to be a good fit for your interests, personality type, and temperament. The best case scenario is that you find something you love. Lots of us, however, find something we can live with. Good luck.
posted by Sal and Richard at 2:31 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

In your question you don't really mention the kind of life you'd like to lead, and if you're not ready to commit to some sort of "career" "path" I'd recommend deciding on something from the lifestyle angle rather than the income one. You might find it more satisfying.

I did this in my twenties. I wasn't yet prepared to settle for the string IT/programming/dev. positions that I knew could probably support me for life, so I asked myself how I wanted to live instead. I was raised in suburbs and small towns, and I found this lifestyle utterly unsatisfying. I wanted to live in an urban environment. I didn't want to own a car. I wanted to walk or cycle to work. I wanted to engage a community, and have a community engage me.

I ended up a barista in a charming west Toronto enclave. I walked or cycled to work. I felt like I knew everyone in the neighbourhood: if you're interested in getting to know the people around you, I would definitely suggest serving them some sort of liquid as a gig.

Basically, just know that some sort of answer will eventually come along, even if it's rarely the answer you expected to find. Until that time, though, relax a bit about the income thing and explore more deeply what sort of life is going to satisfy you over the next 5 years. You'll be better off for it.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 2:48 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

dropped out of college a few times, and went to work as an electrician's apprentice with a relative. worked like an animal. got my license. went back to school full time, intending to go into straight-up electrical engineering. got my bachelor's, tripped and fell into computer network wrangling instead.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:07 PM on March 28, 2011

Great answers that I will be looking into.

Here's what I do as 20-something who doesn't know what he'll be doing in five years...

1) I update my resume often
2) I keep my eye out for interesting, paid opportunities (experience is more important than money, but I refuse to go in debt).
3) I try to do a few interviews each year if only to keep sharp.
4) I set up informational interviews with people who do something I might want to pursue (not people I want to get jobs from)
5) I started following Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover - a little kitschy and aimed at folks in deep debt, but good advice for anyone
posted by jander03 at 3:26 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

How did you fight the nagging existential fears that somehow there was nothing out there that would satisfy you AND pay you money?

Sorry dude, that's not a basic human right; most people are satisfied because they're being paid money. Most jobs do not give your life greater meaning, and those that do are either very competitive or very hard.

And that's okay. Don't be one of those people who have to make work their life. Get a job that pays you enough to live comfortably, then proceed to live. If you don't like it, get another one. I have had many different jobs in my time, and I'm telling you, individual workplace makes a greater difference than vocation/responsibility/salary etc. If you land in a good workplace, those other concerns fade to background noise.
posted by smoke at 3:39 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

How did you fight the nagging existential fears that somehow there was nothing out there that would satisfy you AND pay you money?

I haven't. Those fears are totally true. The only skill I have to make money with is typing, and any other skill I have isn't something that people will pay you a living wage for. Unfortunately, you have to factor realism into your equation in picking a job. The reason jobs exist is that you are doing a service that someone else needs. If you can come up with job skills that other people need AND you like doing it, great! If not, uh... well, then you're me.

I am basically going for "hey, as long as the workplace is pleasant and I have a regular paycheck and benefits and I can do whatever I want after 5 p.m." when it comes to job happiness. For as long as that lasts, anyway. A lot of us are just working in order to live.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:24 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've done a little bit of everything. When I was just out of college, I thought I needed a regular job, so I worked at a school for awhile, doing reading skills with elementary school kids. Then I did social work related stuff, and worked as a personal assistant. Then I went to grad school for a little while, but didn't like it and went into a new field: I worked for some people that bought and sold antiques, doing research and admin type stuff. I cleaned houses on the side. (actually pretty lucrative).Now I'm doing freelance writing and social media/marketing.

I still don't know exactly what I was to do-do with my life, but I've picked up a lot of skills odd-jobbing and freelancing. I've paid all my bills, actually saved enough money to start a ROTH this year, and I'm not in debt. Basically, I think if you don't know what you want to do in your 20s, try a lot of different things until you start having fun with your work. That's been my strategy, and it's worked out OK.
posted by Rocket26 at 5:07 PM on March 28, 2011

I had a BA in English, and thanks to connections, got a job in a museum. Then, worked on a series of popular how-to titles, worked as an editor for a consulting firm, got a job as a reporter in the DC bureau of a British paper, got a job in TV and was shocked to find my niche. There was a sort of a writing, communications thread, but I never thought of any of those things as a career.
What are your strongest skills? Where are those skills prized? Figure out those two things and cast a wide net. You never know until you try it. (I thought my verbal skills were my strong suit, and was shocked to learn my visual skills are what make me the most money.)
posted by Ideefixe at 5:35 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Five words: grad school teaching assistant stipend.

I already had a law degree when I went to grad school, so after I realized the academic life wasn't for me, I ended up practicing law.
posted by jayder at 6:22 PM on March 28, 2011

I'm going to second the teaching overseas. I was an itinerant...media guy...for all my jobs post graduation. Worked at a newspaper, at temp job for a cable company, as a radio DJ in Vermont, for a movie studio as a management trainee. The problem was that there was nothing I was doing that was catching for lack of a better term. Some would be fulfilling creatively, some technically, neither financially really and eight months later I'd be ready to leave and try something new. And at the end of almost a decade post college, I had no career. Just a bucketlist with a lot of checkmarks.

And then I went to Korea and taught kindergarten in English to a bunch of hellions who either knew Tae Kwon Do or were just unusually good at kneecapping me. And it brought EVERYTHING in my life into focus.

There's something about holding down a regular job in a country where you're minority, where your language isn't passable and you have day to day duties that you're not prepared for. And that something is, when it's over, there's a two year glow period where you're pretty sure you could do anything you wanted to. For me it was threefold. For one thing, there was the sheer accomplishment of doing something I really couldn't have ever imagined and the transformation that engendered in me. For another, being somewhere WITHOUT the TV I loved and the media I was used to made me realize what part of it I really loved and what I was good at. Some of it which I applied to the kids. And the third part is that I really loved what I did. I loved those kids. And Seoul to me was like NYC with a lot more Koreans. Dirty, fast paced, in your faced, lot of yelling, drunkenness. A few more Irish and it'd be Hell's Kitchen with better food.

And what that last part gave me was the certainty that, if I tried my hardest in media and DIDN'T make it, I could always come back to teaching english overseas. And I'd probably be pretty happy overall and have a nice standard of living all things considered. And THAT backup plan part gave me the confidence to be somewhat reckless in my work and always shoot for what I thought was right and not necessarily the most political thing. Which has made me very successful in what I do. That part? That's the thing I probably value the most.

Now as for it putting a crimp in your resume, you're fine. "The economy over here was a little saturated so I thought I'd beef up my international experience with a teaching sabbatical in Asia. While there I learned conversational ___________ and a lot about ___________. Which you can't put a price on."

Worked for me. You show a picture of you and a bunch of half-crazed little koreans ready to storm the lunchroom by force and you got something that says a lot about your leadership skills that your resume won't. If you're interested, check out the Korean Job board on DAVESESLCAFE.COM. Some require certification (which you can get in a three week course for some of the basic certificates) and others just want a warm body with a BA from America.

It may not help you figure everything out but I've sent three people there so far and it's been the crucible for everything they needed to get to. Which ain't the worst track record.
posted by rileyray3000 at 6:30 PM on March 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

yeah, getting that nagging feeling. i've got an ok job. i survive. fun job.
i dunno. i'll figure it out, i guess. or i won't.
i go out heaps. have fun. try to meet people. collect experiences.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:45 PM on March 28, 2011

I did Americorps for a year while working at Border's part-time.

Then I went to teach English in China. What was supposed to be a year-long contract launched into a nearly 8-year stint (altogether) , living in Beijing, studying Chinese, doing a grad program at a Chinese university, editing English, and writing. I now use my Chinese skills in a semi-permanent job in China working with an exchange program.

Wandering can really pay off! (even if it doesn't, in the monetary or career-specific sense, working/living abroad is great experience and teaching English is a good way to start). Also, if I had been living in the States in my 20's I am sure I could not have afforded to live the same lifestyle, and I probably could not have found so many interesting editing and writing gigs.

Good luck!!
posted by bearette at 6:47 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I personally have decided that the most important decision to make in your 20s with regard to job / career is to figure out which of the following statements you agree with more, the answer to which will help inform the direction of your life more than what career you choose:

a) I want my job to be an important part of my Identity. I want to enjoy the prestige, lifestyle, money and trappings of my job and want to talk to other people about what I do. I ask other people what they do and I evaluate them (even just a little) based on their answers. It would be great to be the boss or be an Important Person in my industry. If I lost my job I might feel ashamed and would try to get back into it with improved focus!

b) I do not care if my job is a part of my Identity. I have many many interests and am always doing something new in my spare time. I would like to keep a boundary between my life outside work and my time spent at work. I want my job to provide me with enough money so that I can do the things I love to do when I'm not working. I enjoy time over money. The things I most enjoy in life are not easily commodifiable or are not associated with lucrative incomes.

Once you figure out which one is more 'you' I think you'll have a better footing going forward. I spent the first 4 years of my job experience thinking I was into a)...only to realize recently that I am b)...for me this means letting go of the very question you are posing.

Regarding the quelling of my career related existential dilemma I had to realize a few things:

There is an industry in the West, America especially, that makes lots and lots of money selling you the idea that YES it IS possible for EVERYONE to find a JOB CAREER CALLING that will fulfill their intrinsic desire to be whole, happy and meaningful...and will also PAY them beyond their wildest dreams. This is followed by a pep rally of quotes or anecdotes from the enlightened individuals who have made it to the mountaintop and "truly look forward to getting out of bed every morning" etc. ad nauseum.

This promise is not true for the vast majority of individuals. Statistically, you are among those individuals for whom this notion does not apply. That is ok, read on!

What doesn't get sold is the fact that it is equally worthwhile to live your life as you see fit...to walk into the future without a plan so long as you are able to fully embrace and enjoy the ride (and ultimately what I think you might realize is that is all there really is). There are no tickboxes to check, no benchmarks, no waypoints to hit...there is no normal. Alan Watts makes this point better than I ever could...but you get the idea...

Personally, after college I ended up as a computer animator and to this day do animation / design / VFX - but I really don't enjoy it. I stick with it only because as a contractor I am able to take as much time off a year as I want to travel, backpack and do photography - which are the things I really truly enjoy in this life. I let go of any aspirations to "climb the ranks" of my industry and have chosen instead to focus on the things I enjoy doing...so now my only concern related to work is making sure I have enough money to cover rent and cover travel / gear expenses when I bug out for a few months every year. I have no idea what I'm going to do going forward.

I keep a "goals" doc on googledocs...and a few years ago all my goals were career oriented...what I might like to do other than what I'm doing now (acting? forest ranger? postal employee? personal trainer?) all this stress about "omg what should I do with my life." This year, the only entries on my list of goals are trails I want to backpack and places I want to photograph.

In short...don't worry about a career...figure out what you like doing and how you want to live your life...then find the least painful way to make the money required to live that life. If you are one of the lucky few that makes the money doing what you love to do...get a book deal and feed the industry mentioned above. Otherwise just do whatever the fuck you want.
posted by jnnla at 7:31 PM on March 28, 2011 [20 favorites]

Before I found my career, I worked at a used bookstore for several years right out of college. Hundreds of thousand of books passed through my hands, and ones that seemed interesting or relevant to my life, I read. After a few years of reading, on every topic imaginable, I was able to figure what I wanted to do with my life, and how to get there. I ended up in a career I never would have pictured myself in, because of a random chain of books I stumbled upon and read. You don't necessarily have to work at a bookstore (though it isn't a bad way to make a living: interesting co-workers and customers, a quiet pleasant environment, sane hours, terrible salary of course...), but I would read as much as possible, especially books on subjects you wouldn't normally pick up. Sooner or later you'll come across something you'll enjoy doing.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 7:46 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'll add another book that was/is instrumental to me: The Alchemy
posted by Dmenet at 9:34 PM on March 28, 2011

the reason it took me a long time to decide what i wanted to do is because i was subconsciously ruling out careers and jobs that i thought i couldn't do. (not smart enough, not enough experience, i'm too old to start it now, whatever.) after i graduated college with a degree in a field i didn't want a job in, i re-assessed and let myself really consider EVERY possibility. if i could do absolutely anything in the universe, what would it be? to my surprise i found myself thinking about medicine, a field more or less unrelated to anything i'd done up to that point. from then on, i just took it one step at a time. what would i have to do in order to turn this idea into reality? what would my life really be like? what's the timeline? i spent a year pondering these questions and researching the answers to them before deciding to Go For It. During the years in which I was trying to make this dream happen, I worked whatever crappy jobs 20-somethings work. I waitressed. I was a bank teller. I've been a nanny/ babysitter (a horrifying thought if you've never done it before, but it's actually not a terrible way to make money.) I did various freelance artsy stuff through craigslist. I tutored through Wyzant. i also started spending time around hospitals- first volunteering, then i was insanely lucky enough to land a crap job cleaning ORs. sure, the job itself was gross, but just being there really fueled the fire for me. Basically, you just have to do what you have to do to get by, but don't ever lose sight of your goal or stop trying for it. you'll probably have to take a crappy job, but just make sure you keep working toward your ultimate goal in your free time.

Even though it's been a crazy-ass journey, and at times I've realized that I could probably make money doing other stuff, I have never really wavered much. I think this is due to the fact that I truly opened my mind and identified the one thing i really wanted to do more than anything else. it makes all the hard work and craziness seem worth it and allows me to have the sort of focus that i assume you need to have in order to succeed in ANY field. plus i feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment in doing something that i never thought i could do, and that it totally surprises other people to hear i'm doing. just don't sell yourself short! this is totally cheesy, but i think about it all the time: someone out there is going to be doing your dream job. why not you?

also important: it helps to look at the big picture when it comes to timing. sure, it makes me feel kinda ill when i think about how long it will take me before i am actually a practicing doc. but if i hadn't done this, i'd be working my way up in some other field. if i stayed a bank teller, in the amount of time it might have taken me to become a doctor, i'd be what? bank manager? no thanks. accept the fact that once you figure out your path, you start at the bottom and just work your ass off to get to where you want to be. so what if it takes a long time? you're going to turn 30, 40, 50 anyway. Would you rather turn 40 doing your dream job or the crap job you settled into in your 20's because you were afraid to do what you really wanted?
posted by GastrocNemesis at 7:04 AM on March 29, 2011 [5 favorites]

After dropping out of college, I enlisted in the United States Coast Guard at age 21. This gave me four years to decide I wanted to get an Engineering degree.

Got my Bachelor's degree in Industrial Technology* at 30.

51 and working in IT now. Should have made been a cabinetmaker.

*Watered down Industrial Engineering, with a hands on focus.
posted by qsysopr at 7:08 AM on March 29, 2011

The answer for me is (I'm around your age and the longest I've been at a job was my last one at 14 months, before that was 6) diversity over specialization. People say that it's not the best way to make money but that's not written in stone by any means. You need not be an expert to make a good living nowadays, but you do have to be risk tolerant. Most people aren't. This will teach you how.

Try anything and everything you can. It worked for me because I was learning a whole bunch of skills, I was being exposed to so many different people and industries. Most jobs, even good ones, don't require expert knowledge. I said most and I stand by that. Starting near the bottom really gives you a feel of how things are in the business and the more jobs you work, the more you realise that a surprising amount of people are scared. They are winging it. They have all their eggs in one basket and it terrifies them to think of doing something else. They think of themselves as frauds, but they are in an envious position and you might think they do a fantastic job. This is a good thing to learn early on.

I love the idea of designing your job around the life you desire and I think too few people stop and think about this. Think about what track they are on and what are the factors that led them there. This kind of thinking should happen periodically your entire life. I've had a habit of doing a kind of mediation where I imagine myself doing this job for a year, for five years, and for ten. I immerse myself in this daydream, really hammering in that I'm now 35 and doing this. What does my gut feel like? Am I embarrassed? What realistically can I achieve in this role? Have I moved up a rank or two and what does that look like? Taking a look at my bosses right now, does my future self have time for the things I enjoy? Am I stuck working 60 hours a week? How many hours of commuting in those ten years have I done? What could I have done with those thousands of hours instead?

It usually keeps me in check.
posted by penguinkeys at 1:19 PM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of distinct jobs out there. Most people when pressed stick to the same dozen or so that they have been pushed to do by school, parents, society, their social rank, etc...as the only alternatives. Statistically there are literally thousands of unique jobs that you would be happy as a clam doing. The easiest way I've found is to scattershot your job history, taking bits and pieces of each job and going over what you really liked and then trying something unrelated that also takes into account that aspect you liked. Or not, that's the beauty of life.

Or you could go the hard route and find out what you really don't like about life. Even little things that irk you. And find a solution to it. This is one of the hardest exercises I've found, not in terms of inventing a solution, but figuring out these areas of unhappiness or frustration. Those sticks that you stick in Starbuck's lids to prevent sloshing while driving or moving? Some individual got fed up with that and designed it. Someone wanted a different kind of community than SA or ign or offtopic and came up with metafilter. They now are either still doing this and making a living or have sold it and can afford to do any number of other things.
posted by penguinkeys at 1:33 PM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

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