Humans are an amazing, multi-faceted group of organisms with interests that span from watchmaking to Dungeons and Dragons, gardening to medieval architecture. You could spend your entire life working in one industry, continuing to move up the ladder (or not), but as you move up, it brings more stress.
What I’ve found is that there’s a point between interest in what you’re doing, impact to the business, and income from your work. I’ve found the higher I go into a company, the less interest I have in my work. I start worrying about the impact my work will have on sales versus building a good product. When I find that I’m turning out a sub-optimal product to optimize for time to market, I begin to lose interest.
What if, rather than optimizing for income over time, we optimized for interest in our work? I realize that for some people their interest will align with high impact, but for a lot of us, we want to build cool things while making a good wage and having a positive impact on the world.
Take a look at your interests, write them down. Which interests could you demonstrate expertise in? How might you build a career out of that? There’s something scary about leaving a secure position in an industry to start something new, but if you’re doing something that you’re interested in, you’ll be more fulfilled than if you spent the next 20 years making incrementally more money.
I’m taking this plunge, as I’ve written about more than a few times on this blog. I’d love it if you could join me. Find something you love and then find a way to make a dollar with it. It might surprise you how freeing it is. Remember that there are no rules saying you have to keep moving up the ladder, but you should always be happy with what you spend a majority of your waking hours doing.