Why Taking Time Off To Figure It Out Is A Mistake

Most people I know don’t really know what they want to do with the rest of their lives.  This includes most really successful people I know.  My grandfather, at 80 years old, used to say he didn’t know what he wanted to do when he grew up.

For young people today, there’s this popular idea that the answer to this question is floating out there somewhere: all we need to do is hunt it down and find it.  Maybe it’s in an ashram in India or in a hostel in Hungary.  Maybe it’s in a film class or a cooking seminar.  Maybe it’s at business school or law school.  The frustrating part is that this might be true: your passion might lie in any of those places.  But floating around aimlessly, hoping you stumble onto something you’re passionate about isn’t efficient.  Nor is spending $200,000 in the hopes that the career you pick is something you’ll like.

We forget that passion doesn’t causes success.  Success causes passion.

And because of this, taking time off to figure out what you want to do is ass-backwards.  The opportunity cost is enormous.  A year or two, or three, of lost earnings and experience might cost you several hundred thousand dollars in the short and long run.  Your chance of stumbling on something you’re truly passionate about is low.

The better option is to decide.  Pick something.  Stick with it.  Build a skill in that area, something people will pay good money for.  Then, you can aimlessly float about, being a dilettante, trying to discover your passion.  The funny thing is, once you build that skill, you’ll likely discover that you’ve already found your passion.

Al Pittampalli has some nice thoughts on this issue as well:

 

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