Ha! You probably thought this was about vegetarianism, but it isn’t. I recently got a pingback from a Brazen Careerist post on her opinion on bad job advice lobbing me in with the baby boomers. Crickey! I thought I was older than that.

Actually, I’m only 33 and so at the edge between Generations X and Y. I think choice of work depends not so much on what kind of generation you fit in but what kind of person you are, where one may of course take most of the clues from one’s generation.

Obviously, advice often reads like someone’s autobiography. “This is what worked for me and so it will work for you too”. However, if you are not like me, it will not work for you very well until you change into someone like me. Hence, there are two possible snags when seeking advice:

  1. Is the advice right (probably, if it worked for someone and wasn’t based on luck)?
  2. Is the person right for the advice?

Answering the second question requires a good deal of introspection. It is easy to get carried away by externals, like “this guy has a million dollars and I want to be like him”, but have you considered what he looks like on the inside? Maybe you do not want to be like him after all?

For me, a string of random jobs is pointless when it seems to be done for salary only, like a locust, so of course, if you’re anything like me , I heartily recommend against working jobs if you can avoid it! Obviously, there’s the little problem of needing to spend money for living, but very early on I decided that I would never work for salaries, so I fixed that problem by increasing my passive income to a point where it would cover all my basic needs and some of my wants. Fortunately I live in a society where this is possible and nobody forces you to work as long as you pay your own way.

What ranks high on my list is competence and impact; in that regard I think one should stick with a field/sector for 10 years as that is about the time it takes to go to the top, where further growth in limited (law of diminishing returns) — as I see it; but at that point competition gets so tough that the number of losers is much larger than the few winners. After that, it is time to go for other challenges as the main challenges remaining in one’s own field will be about politics, excuse me, “networking”. Change is not so much associated with crisis as it is with a deliberate realization that “enough is enough”. Unfortunately, many realize this so late that it does turn into a crisis. Conversely, job-hopping has its draw backs as well. The ultimate job hopping from a financial independence perspective is to work for a few months, then take the rest of the year off and live on very little. This is the wide-skilled opportunist’s approach. I think this is a nice approach, but I couldn’t do it. However, there’s also the job-hopper who keeps moving around and never gets the time to take off because the money is being spent as fast as it is being earned. While job-hopping provides intangible/generalized skills such as adaption and connections, it does not result in hardcore tangible skills. In my opinion this strategy turns a person into a diletant, who will constantly be winging it. A perma-temp. at different jobs. That may work for you, but it does not work for me. I want to be able to say more than “I was associated with these guys when they … ” on my resume so to speak. To be happy, I need to be competent at something tangible; anything less and I would feel like a fraud. I want to be able to say that “I was the one who made this”, not “I contributed to this”. To develop such skills, I need to stick with something for a decade; but I will not put myself in a position where I have to stick with it any longer than necessary whether that will be 1-job career or a multi-job strategy.

At all times, keep in mind that a strategy has three different components. It has a goal, a plan to get to the goal, and it has guiding principles. Postmodernism says all goals are equally and arbitrarily good(*). Obviously a plan is bad if it does not lead to the goal, and the guiding principles are bad if they do not lead to a plan that leads to the goal. However, if goals are different, it will be very hard to say anything qualified about the plans and the principles. In particular, if it is not realized, like in the autobiographic approach, that the goals are different, statements about the plans and the principles are not applicable.

(*) I do not necessarily agree with this, but society has been partially built on these principles of the free pursuit if individual happiness, so in that sense it holds.

Originally posted 2009-05-12 11:58:31.