The 1% of decisions you make paradoxically determine the trajectory of your life
In your 20’s, I think there are three main questions to be answered :
- Where do you live
- What do you do
- Who do you spend your time with
Let’s explore each of these
Do you choose to live in a City or a Rural area?
Where do you choose to live in a City?
What City do you live in?
Do you want to be a small fish in a big pond, or a big fish in a small pond?
Where can you afford to live?
You can try rationalise a lot of these. But at some fundamental level, there is an intuition. The problem is : you are the easiest person to fool.
You are a very poor predictor of ‘what you think you want’. It’s called affective forecasting.
You might have an idealised notion of wanting to live in the big city. So you spend years saving or working towards that, finally to reach your goal, and realise it was not what you wanted. It was just a ‘thought’ , repeated until you confused it for reality.
So what is the solution?
Mini experiments : Live in a place for a few months or a year if possible. Or at least frequently visit or ask friends/family who live there.
Currently : I have this idealised notion of living in North/West London. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe romanticism. But I don’t know the reality of living there, and making all my decisions to get there is foolish. Instead experiment first. Settle later.
It’s a pretty big decision. It warrants experiments.
What do you do for your career?
Ideally you should do something you are intrinsically motivated to do.
But again that is not always possible for most people.
You can either do what you enjoy, or enjoy what you do. Those are the two options.
Or you could be miserable in a job that pays well.
But the best would be to learn to enjoy what you do. Enjoy the process. But what career do you pick?
This question is a lot easier for Medics. The path is very clear. It’s a lifelong profession generally.
But for most other careers, when I talk to people, they just seem to ‘fall’ into a job by accident. They may consciously choose a ‘field’ but they don’t choose the job prospects.
Moreover the idea of having the same ‘job’ for life is an outdated 20th century notion. Nowadays, people are constantly switching jobs. Just talking with a few of my STEM graduate friends, even they are finding it difficult to cope with the uncertainty. They don’t know ‘where’ they are going exactly.
You should not try to ‘aim’ towards any specific job. But develop the character and skillset such that you are resilient and employable. The pace of innovation is only accelerating, and the most valuable skill in the 21st century is the ability to learn fast whilst also staying sane.
Currently : Fortunately for me, I’ve thought this one through a lot. I’ve experimented, spent almost 2 months in Radiology departments. I’ve compared it to other specialities I want to do. There is no question, I can’t see myself doing anything other than Radiology. It’s intrinsically enjoyable.
This is arguably the most important one, but also the hardest one.
Modernity makes it hard to keep stable ties since people move around. But you can make an effort to go meet old friends, and make new friends of course.
In terms of finding a good romantic partner, there is an element of luck involved. You can increase your odds by meeting more people, through shared networks or groups, but luck is still present.
Meet lots of new people initially. But if you don’t ‘click’ or share common values, don’t invest. Invest in the 1% of people you do connect with. And go all in.
Think carefully about these three questions as they largely determine the trajectory of your life.
No right or wrong answers : just an open floor to facilitate introspection.