Sunday 2 October 2022

Your Career Is Just One-Eighth of Your Life | Why I need to explore and find hobbies outside of work

I recently came across this article from The Atlantic by Derek Thompson title,”Your Career Is Just One-Eighth of Your Life and it gave some advice on what your career should be like and how you can optimise it. It is a short and interesting article. I will write about some points of the article that I found interesting and provide a summarised version. Also, I will share my own personal thoughts as well. So to read the original article, do go to here.

With so many tiktoks and social media post explaining why you shouldn’t give your all to work (eg, quiet quitting), we can see a lot of generalised advice being given out and most being pretty brutal to working hard at building a career. The author works hard in his career and in his view, to give a fresh graduate advice that a career is gonna suck even before they start is useless. So here are some pointer he saw which he hopes can be helpful in some way.

1. Your career is not your life

My views are that the pandemic has accelerated this and definitely so for those who are able to work from home. Our career is not our life even if we spend majority of our time working. This is because most of us are exchanging our time and effort for our salary but working from home enable us to reduce a lot of time that was previously used to commute or having meals and even just to spend time in office fulfilling the standard 9-5 hours.

We will retire eventually and that will be the time when we have a larger amount of time available as we no longer need to work our corporate jobs and can take on more exciting ventures. So it is important to not place all emphasis on your career and making sure you have interests or “life” outside of work.

2. Explore and then exploit

The author found that job-hopping is the best way to ensure that you increase your income fast compared to staying at the 1 same company as pay increments usually does not match the offer when you job hop. Job hopping also allows you to switch and find the best fit for yourself. Even though the author believes in switching to find the best fit, he doesn’t job hop and has held to his current job for about 8 years.

In explaining, “Explore and then exploit”, the author read a paper that found the conclusion below.

In a deep analysis of the careers of scientists and artists, he found that their “hot streaks” tended to be periods of focused and narrow work following a spell of broader experimentation. This is sometimes called the “explore-exploit” sequence. The idea is that many successful people are like good oil scouts: They spend a lot of time searching for their space, and then they drill deep when they find the right niche.

The author goes onto point out that even if you are like him where you have stayed in a job for a long period, you can get out of your comfort zones like switches jobs where you change the things you are expected to do eg take on a new project or suggest something that is new and can benefit the team to your manager.

3. Don’t do the job you want to tell other people you do. Do the job you want to do.

This really relates to me as I find there are so many factors that you need to consider before taking up a job than to just look at the title or salary or just benefits. You need to look at it as an overall as well as the company culture and industry.

The author had previously considered a job offer because of the amazing job title that came with it, however after consulting with a fellow colleague, he realised that he was considering the job as he like the title but wouldn’t like the work so he rejected it.

At times, we would choose a job that is further or maybe more stressful just because it pays $100 more however, we don’t factor in the time or exhaustion that will come with it. It is a fine balance to be able to find the “perfect fit” but just know that no one factor should be the deciding factor unless the work really attracts you and it is what you want.

4. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what you value—and how much professional success matters to you.

My mum always tells me that she could have advanced more in her career however she didn’t like working overtime or stay in the office to leave after her boss. She told us that she like starting her day early, completing the required work and just going back home to spend time with us or to catch up on her dramas.

There are some people who enjoy working like siao and feel like achieving success in their career is what they want while some value family time and time to unwind so unnecessary OT is uncalled for unless needed. No one is wrong as we all value different things. The author compared this to his love for a certain kind of wine and if others don’t enjoy it, it is all right as it is personal taste. Ambition is similar as it is not for everyone and if you are ambitious, GO FOR IT! Otherwise, it is all right.

5. Flow comes from voluntary, difficult, and worthwhile work.

When I start writing on a certain topic or article, I love the feeling of completing it. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and I think this point summarised what work/career you should do depending on how you feel when you are doing your work. If it is something assigned and you just don’t want to do it, it is difficult to get into the flow but most of us would complete it for fear of getting fired.

Why I need to explore and find hobbies outside of work

I do see many of my friends exploring hobbies like pottery or yoga outside of work and it is interesting to see them being busy with it for a period of time before changing it. For me, I prefer activities that are in-house for example writing to share my thoughts or reading up on finance related articles and watching videos.

The activities are all quite individual where it can be done with just me alone. I do wonder if I should be out socialising more but it’s tough. I will need to explore what activities that can be done outside and maybe be more active in my lifestyle. I, for sure, know that my career is not my life. What about you?

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