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The Myth of Playing it Safe

The myth of playing it safe

I’m going to tell you a career secret that, frankly, not a lot of people want to hear. So if you’d rather stay blissfully unaware, now is your chance to bail.

Still here? Okay, here’s the secret:

There is no safe choice. Or right choice. Or wrong choice. The world is, and will always be, filled with change and uncertainty, even when it comes to your career.

Bummer, right?

You can always be fired, downsized, or replaced. Your company could fold. The economy could tank. Depressing, I know. But, oddly enough, it’s also empowering. Knowing there’s no 100% guarantee frees you from pressure fall in line, fly under the radar, cave to the pressure, and suck it up, all for the sake of “security”.

Maybe you feel pressured to work in a certain field because you happen to have a degree in that area. Or because you heard that it was a safe bet. Or because you were encouraged to do so by someone you love and respect. None of those are reasons enough to build a career in any field unless you also enjoy the work.

If it doesn’t float your boat, honey, it ain’t worth it. tweet it

Similarly, just because you happen to be good at something doesn’t mean you have to make a career of it. If you don’t enjoy something, don’t spend your life doing it. It’s not just about skills; it’s about what you want.

Seems like a no brainer, right? Yet, there are gazillions of people out there slogging away at stuff they don’t like because it seems safe. It was the obvious choice, the road most travelled, the path of least resistance.

Things I’m good at, but choose not to make a career of include research, planning, proposals, statistical reports, and the list goes on. I choose not to make a career of those things because I find them kind of, well, boring. They feel “meh” to me.

And you know what? Meh isn’t good enough. tweet it

Not for me. Not for you. Not for anybody.

Make a mental list of the things you’re good at, but don’t really like. The stuff that feels safe, but boring.

Got your list? Good.

Now pay attention to the following complex instructions. Take notes if you must.


Instructions: Do not make a career of doing those things!

That’s it.

You have enough interests and enough talents that you don’t need to be grinding away at stuff that bores you to tears or cripples your soul. What you want to do is move from a “meh” to a “Hell yes, bring it on!” or at least to a “Hey, this is cool.”

Because you’ve got just one life, and the concept of playing it safe is a big fat lie.


This is an excerpt from Careergasm: A Course for Discovering Your Calling.


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