What to do if you don’t have career goals

I don’t have any career goals in the mean time. I’m not apprehensive about it.

Career development is likely one of the most vital tales in our tradition. The American Dream. You’re supposed to begin on the backside and work your means towards the highest. However you know what? The highest feels like a nightmare to me, and so do the steps in between.

I nonetheless need to get higher at what I do, and I nonetheless need to study new abilities, however I’m doing these issues for their very own sake, not due to any type of career plan.

I’m not saying everybody ought to quit on shifting up the ladder—if that’s what you need, do it. However if you don’t need to, that’s okay. Let’s discuss why.

If I work onerous sufficient, I can get to the place I’m now

Right here’s a thought experiment: what would you do together with your time if you didn’t have to work?

My preliminary response might be like yours—drinks, seashore, sleep, repeat—however I’d get tired of that ultimately. I do know myself. I want to be creating one thing, and phrases are how I do that. So I’d most likely find yourself writing weblog posts about issues I believe are attention-grabbing.

Which simply occurs to be the job I have proper now.

I work in a advertising and marketing division. To maneuver up the ladder, I’d have to advance as a marketer—not a author. I do know from expertise that might make me deeply sad. But it surely’s straightforward to suppress these emotions and work towards a promotion you don’t need, particularly when you really feel that stress within the background radiation of our tradition. As a result of that’s what you’re supposed to do—advance, hold shifting.

However if my money-isn’t-an-object preferrred would imply doing what I’m doing now, why ought to I spend any time in any respect doing one thing else? And if I have no desire to be a leader, why work towards being one?

Most individuals don’t have a job they take pleasure in. I’m fortunate. If you don’t like your present job, it is sensible that you’d need one thing else, and it’s value working towards that aim. However the stress in our tradition to advance, all the time advance, makes it onerous to discover when you’re already in a great spot. Strive to concentrate to that.

What to do when you don’t have goals

You understand what I like about Star Trek? (Please don’t go away, I’ll hold this brief.)

Star Trek is about in a future with out shortage. Know-how means there’s loads of meals and power for everybody, so the one cause to work is self-improvement—to change into higher at one thing for its personal sake. Individuals work onerous anyway as a result of it’s fulfilling to them. That’s sufficient. It’s a utopia constructed round the concept individuals aren’t primarily motivated by want: they’re motivated by achievement and studying.

It is sensible. Most individuals on earth have no less than one passion they may by no means receives a commission to do: enjoying guitar, gardening, I may go on. This stuff are enjoyable as a result of you get higher at them, and that feels good. Heck, even video video games are constructed round this primary human want for development.

And this will translate to your career—you don’t want goals to really feel motivated. Getting higher at what you do will be motivation sufficient, and that’s what I’m specializing in.

Recently, I’ve been pondering when it comes to themes, in its place to goals. I used to be impressed by a video by CGP Grey, wherein he advised giving up on New Yr’s resolutions and pondering when it comes to themes as an alternative. For instance: I’m fairly good at writing as soon as I have an concept, however not too long ago, I’ve had bother arising with issues to write about. That’s why my present theme is “concepts.”

  • I’ve turned my daily journal entries into brainstorming classes.

  • I’m taking a course on writing private essays, which is partly constructed round pondering up concepts.

  • I’m asking questions every single day on Twitter, within the hopes {that a} response would possibly encourage a weblog publish.

  • I’m taking more walks, alone, so I can assume up concepts.

In a number of weeks, I’ll assume up a brand new theme and hold discovering small methods to enhance on that entrance. This method is working for me, so I’m going to stick to it for some time.

It’s not scientific, it’s not primarily based on metrics, and it’s not the type of factor that can get me promoted within the brief time period. That doesn’t matter: I really feel like I’m bettering, and that’s sufficient.

You don’t want to have particular goals to get higher at what you do. You’ll be able to give attention to enchancment for its personal sake, even if it doesn’t really feel that means.


This article initially appeared on Zapier’s blog and is reprinted with permission.