Thinking about career progression

Recently came across this little piece of advice —

Don't think of career progression in a linear fashion, where you quickly rise up the ladder. It will make you compete with others and exhaust yourself. Soon the highs of a new role will normalise and you will start to feel burnt out. Instead, think of change in context as career progression as well. For example, if your scale of operation changes - 1 project → 4, 3 team members → 5 or if you include variety, worked in sales and now handles business or worked in edtech and moved to fin-tech. That too is career progression.

I kind of resonate with this a lot. Especially because careers are not linear and job life is looooooong (30-40 years ?). So it should be okay to take breaks as Stefen Sagmeister puts it, or try different things like Arthur Brooks did in his career where he progressed from a french horn player in the Spanish orchestra to an economist to a Harvard professor and author on Happiness (will add the link to where he talked about it in his podcast, he just has way too many podcasts to find the exact one).

The end goal is to be happy with what you're doing and derive financial security from it. It is not to "show them".

And consciously make the choice of not making careers their whole identity. It is difficult to unplug from this way of thinking, especially when you work with extremely competitive people around you (thank you capitalism), the young kids who would rather work long hours than confront negative emotions or where rewards are massive that it makes it difficult for our egos to accept. Sure, there needs to be mass acceptance of life outside of work, but also one must accept different people finding success in different things in different phases of their career, and while we as a society rewire our relationship with our work, individually we should put our own wellbeing and long term happiness in the forefront.


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