We love having options.
Being able to choose what we do, where we live, and even who we date, makes us feel great. There is a reason why so many people are terrified of marriage.
In the context of careers, people go to graduate schools or consulting to broaden their options.
Maximizing your options seem like the smart strategy, especially when you are early in your career and feel unsure of what you want.
But what most people don’t realize is: you’ll never have enough options. And you’ll never feel certain about what you want in life.
At some point, you have to say no to working under a prestigious name, generous salary and around the “smartest” people.
If you wait until “the perfect opportunity”, your life will pass by without you ever understanding how it feels to put your heart into everything you do.
- Jeff Bezos left his Vice-president role in D.E. Shaw to start Amazon in his garage.
- Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard University to commit to Facebook.
I’m not saying that everyone needs to start a $1T company to leave the options game. But deep inside, we all have that 1 crazy goal we want to have a proper go at before we die.
So what can you do to actually make the most out of your options and remain true to your values?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Time-box your options: You want to get into consulting because of the learning opportunity? Great, then only stay there for 6 months. In general, 6 months of full-time work is where you can learn the most, and start to get comfortable. Set yourself a strict time-horizon.
2. Keep yourself accountable: Time-boxing doesn’t mean anything unless you keep yourself accountable. Ask your mentor, friend or family to keep you accountable for your time-box, and to challenge you if you are reluctant to move on without a good reason.
3. Value opportunities as a 90-year-old: It’s easy to get disillusioned by the short-term perks of options. But if you regularly ask yourself what you want to have experienced out of life before death, it will put things into perspective.
Options are there for you to prioritise and discard according to your needs, not to carry them in your graves.