Introducing Career 2.0: Creating The Life You Want
A Career 1.0 Story: College, Debt, and Feeling Stuck
Eugene struggled to choose a major in college. He decided on computer science since it seemed like the safe path. Fresh out of school and with 60k in debt, he got his first job at Microsoft and was paid well.
But after a couple of years, he started to wonder if he could be a programmer for the rest of his life. He couldn’t imagine being stuck trying to wrangle code for another meaningless project when he was 45.
He expressed his concerns with some friends and coworkers, but didn’t hear anything encouraging. He also worried that career pivots tend to result in a lower income, and Eugene spent most of his paycheck. He couldn’t imagine making less money than he was now.
So he looked for similar jobs like being a project manager or working in IT. He ignored what he was genuinely curious about because he couldn’t imagine how his interests would result in a realistic career.
Years of these slight pivots resulted in a higher salary, but no more fulfillment in his career. And since he never sat down to really think about the life he wanted—and the money required to live that life—the financial anxiety never went away.
Ultimately Eugene continued to work his way up and although he lived a nice life with a good family and friends, he always felt like he wasn’t living his true purpose.
A Career 2.0 Story: Curiosities, New Skills, Chosen Lifestyle
Amelia was working as an administrative assistant in a real estate office while taking classes at the local community college. She was still trying to figure out what she wanted to do, and after a semester of college, she felt like the traditional route was going nowhere.
She decided to take the learning into her own hands and pursue whatever interested her at that stage in her life. She had a stress-free job that paid the bills, so she was free outside of work to start exploring other opportunities.
She started learning graphic design by using free online resources. After a month she learned a little bit of website design as well. Then another month she got interested in copywriting.
After several months of pursuing her interests, Amelia landed her first copywriting gig. It was for one article and only paid $25, but she learned what it was like to get paid to write and what freelancing was like.
After several more clients at higher prices, she realized she could take her graphic design, web design, and copywriting skills and specialize in creating landing pages. It took her a couple years to finally be able to quit her day job, but that was still better than her peers who were in a 4-year college program, accruing debt without any real-world experience or valuable skills.
Once Amelia had some stability by establishing work with ongoing clients (a few big companies that outsource their copywriting needs), she started working on other projects she felt passionate about—helping a local brewery with their marketing, writing an email sales sequence for a fitness brand, and even starting her own travel blog.
Amelia’s situation might not be as consistent as someone with a full-time job, but she knows she can always go back to the standard work arrangement if needed, especially with the skills she’s gained. In fact, Amelia has a better chance at landing a great remote job than only having a bachelor’s degree.
She might decide later that freelancing isn’t for her (you don’t have to be a freelancer or have your own business to have freedom), but she can easily land a copywriting or social media marketing position at a company of her choice.
Who Career 2.0 Is For
You can’t imagine dreading each weekday for the next forty years just to retire and wonder where the time went.
You want to do meaningful work. Work that aligns with your passions, makes good money, and gives you the freedom to live the lifestyle you want.
You have lots of interests and passions but need help choosing. You’re creative and hard-working, and you know that in the right environment, you would do great work.
But the standard career track doesn’t seem to fit your needs. It’s not like you haven’t tried to make it work, but it hasn’t worked for you so far. It’s all too specialized, narrow, and robbed of meaning.
You know there are people out there living the life you want and that it’s possible, you’re just not sure how to get there.
Welcome to Career 2.0
In Career 2.0, you live a life that is an expression of you and not external influences. It is an expression of your interests, talents, mission, and lifestyle. Your days are highlighted by doing something meaningful that utilizes your skills, experience, and passions.
Although there are still feelings of uncertainty and doubt, you don’t spend hours in confusion or wasteful contemplation. You’re able to take action despite the doubt and uncertainty, because you know that’s a normal part of life.
You get to explore your interests as soon as they arise through online education, personal projects, or freelance work. If you’re curious about graphic design, you don’t need to research 4-year degrees or stress about quitting your current job. You start exploring it that very weekend. You understand that the only way to know if a career path is right for you is through direct experience.
Switching careers and having a resume with different jobs doesn’t hurt you. It shows you have a unique combination of skills and that you bring something new to the table.
Those who decide to integrate the ideas of Career 2.0 will stay relevant, have better job opportunities, higher earning potential, and enjoy personal growth.
The Career 2.0 Approach
What is most important and beneficial about Career 2.0 is the approach. If you approach your career properly, you’ll navigate the modern career landscape with less stress and more confidence in your path, even when you aren’t sure what’s going to happen next.
There are 3 main things you have to understand and do.
Know Yourself: At the root of this way of working is understanding your needs, wants, lifestyle, values, and mission. Getting clear on these things isn’t a one-time journaling exercise (although journaling will help). You’ll need to edit your vision over time as you learn more about yourself. Just having something written down, even if it’s not perfect, will put you ahead of most people.
You will also clarify your needs based on your psychology and personality. For example, I hate having too many meetings on my calendar. Knowing this, there are certain jobs I won’t even consider.
Always Experiment: We tend to view career moves as these huge decisions. Sure, at some point you do have to decide on a path, but in the beginning, all you need to do is small experiments. Rather than going back to college to become a data scientist, take an online course. Rather than completely switching jobs, you can do a personal project or find a freelance gig.
And when you do finally decide, you understand that more doors will open for you, rather than close.
Pursue Your Curiosities: Don’t ignore or devalue the things you have a natural inclination for. If you have something you’re genuinely interested in, that’s something that is part of you that you should take seriously. Also, if you pursue your interests you’ll find that procrastination will be less of an issue.
Paul Graham puts it well in his article How To Work Hard:
“What you're suited for depends not just on your talents but perhaps even more on your interests. A deep interest in a topic makes people work harder than any amount of discipline can.”
A More Real Career
Don’t think of Career 2.0 as some special tool or framework.
There have been people approaching careers in this manner for centuries. It’s not new, but it certainly isn’t common.
It’s simply a different way of looking at a career that is rooted in reality.
The reality that if you understand your own needs and wants, you’ll be better able to create meaningful work.
The reality that you are always allowed to experiment and it’s never too late to pursue your dream life.
The reality that you only have one life to live, and that the next 10 years will pass regardless. So you may as well use that time to create the life you want.
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