Running Experiments in the Real World

As much as I felt like I had my entire life planned out from age six, from ages 17 – 25, the older I got the less certain I became.

During that stretch of time my plan changed at least a couple dozen times.

My first dozen-ish years of jobs.

I tried a bunch of different things. Mostly with no particular aim in mind. Other than to avoid staying too long at jobs that made me feel dead inside.

From age 6-20, I thought I wanted to be a pediatric neurosurgeon. No other goal mattered. But by the time I spent a couple years in college, I had a complete identity crisis.

I felt like I only ever wanted to achieve “that goal” because it was the most prestigious sounding goal I could imagine. That would surely impress others.

Except when I had this realization, it was earth shattering to say the least. In part because I’d tied my identity up in this goal. But probably more so because I realized I didn’t know what the hell to do if not that.

I didn’t have a framework for figuring out what to do, either.

So I rolled my sleeves up and got to work. I said yes to a ton of opportunities. And the more I said yes to, the more opportunities came my way.

I’ll be honest, several of those early jobs were brutal. But each one taught me an important lesson + gave me useful experience to carry me forward.

Over time, I found a groove.

Me, finding my groove.

Eventually, all those experiments delivered some semblance clarity. Each new opportunity became a bit more recognizable as a distinct step on a path – rather than just one more job in an erratic indeterminate sequence.

Over time, the path emerged – by trying things, identifying what worked and what didn’t, leaning into the things I had a knack for (and away from things I didn’t.

It’s not always clear how the story will play out. But if you’re unsure, just get started. You can always adapt as you gain more information.