Last month, there was a very inspiring career thread on Quora. The topic was “I am in my late 20s and feel I have wasted a lot of time. Is it too late?”
James Altucher, a popular blogger and all-around fascinating guy, gave some good advice as usual. After going through a long-list of famous people who reached success later in life, he ended with the advice that it really doesn’t matter. You don’t need success to be happy.
You might never have your “great” thing that you do. I’m not even saying “it’s the journey that one should love”. Because some journeys are very painful. And nobody says you get special marks in death if you wrote a great novel at the age of 50. Or came up with a great chicken, or a way to stuff lots of people into factories.I’ve stumbled and fallen and got up and survived enough that I’m sick of goals and purposes and journeys. I want to cut out the middleman. The journey. The desperation and despair that thinking of a “purpose” entails. Fuck purpose. It’s ok to be happy without one. You don’t need to pay with lots of unhappiness to buy happiness.
I think that is true. That said, I’m not ready to abandon my life goals yet.
When I first left grad school, I thought personal development was bullshit and snake oil. After reading a few of the better authors, though, I realized that most personal development offers very sensible advice. They don’t hide the work that goes into achieving great things.
Yet personal development is like personal finance or personal fitness tips. There are only so many things you can say. The basics are the basics. People desire to be told a secret but the reality is that most success in life comes from action and a disciplined approach to improvement rather than searching the internet for another top 25 tips for ‘starting your novel’ post.
I’ve read dozens of these books now and hundreds of personal development blog posts.
Here are the four principles that I’ve found are common to most personal development. Follow them and you’ll see results in your career search.