Take a moment to think about what the final moments of your life will be like. I hope it will be a very, very long time from now. But put yourself there, in your last days, reflecting back on your life. What legacy will you be leaving behind? Will your future self be proud of the work you’re doing right now?
I hope the answer is “Yes!” — that whatever you currently spend 70% of your waking hours doing is incredibly fulfilling and has a significant impact on the world. But most of us can’t say that. Most of us know deep down we could be doing much more.
Me, I hate that feeling. I’ve been running my own business for 10 years and still struggle with it every day. Feeling stuck, wondering what could be, not knowing where to turn next.
Most of us feel like we’re wandering through a maze every day with no way out.
The days of the career ladder are long gone. While our parents dutifully stayed at their jobs for 30+ years, now even 5 years at the same company can feel stifling. Why? Because the world is moving faster than ever before; societal change is happening at a breakneck pace; technology is transforming what it means to be human; and we have more information at our fingertips than ever before in human history…combined.
No wonder we’re so dizzy!
You and I, working at the forefront of technology, we have the unique opportunity to play a pivotal role in inventing the future. Without our involvement, what kind of future is it going to be? One of endless digital self-indulgent garbage, or one where critical problems are solved with mindfulness and compassion?
So ask yourself this: do you want to wander through a maze of someone else’s design, or do you want to carve your own path?
In the last couple years, I’ve been redefining what success means to me. Raised by two people who grew up with nothing, I was taught that success equaled making money. So I spent the first several years of my career tying my self-worth to my salary. But I was never satisfied. All I wanted was to make more and more dough, and then some more. Eventually I found myself burned out and doing soul-sucking work. After a lot of rest and self-reflection, I realized I had it all wrong. I decided it wasn’t money I really wanted, but freedom. So for the last few years, I’ve been on a journey to expand my freedom as much as the universe will allow.
I want you to have the same. Whether it’s freedom you seek, or something else. I want you to define it for yourself. I care deeply that you depart from this world at peace — not just with what you had, but with who you were.
Is the work you’re doing right now leading to your life’s work?
To discover what I wanted from my life’s work, I began to ask myself a lot of questions. Some of them more helpful than others. But considering I solve problems for a living (as most of us do), I slowly realized that I already have a methodology that works. Over time, I adapted the Discover > Plan > Build > Iterate process I’ve used on projects for a decade to help me design solutions for my own problems. I made myself my own most important design project.
So far, the results have been staggering. Last year, I increased my income by 25% doing more of what I love in less time. I built skills I never knew I needed, and in some cases had never even heard of, but now use on a daily basis to do my best work. I discovered dozens of communities in all corners of the world tackling topics that really move me, having discussions I want to be a part of. Best of all, I feel more in control of my destiny than ever before. Do I have it all figured out? Absolutely not! I would never claim to have all the answers, nor would I even want them if I could. But now I have tools that help me make my own decisions rather than operate on a hope and a prayer.
Six months ago, I launched a program called Plot Your Course for user experience practitioners to design their own careers. It attracted much more interest than I ever expected, and though it felt like an enormous challenge to pull off, I made it happen. Many of the people enrolled in the program have now chosen totally different directions for themselves, being truer to what they really want out of life. Someone who had been actively pursuing UX for the last two years realized it was actually product management he loved. A woman long held back by her own perceived inexperience finally recognized the depth of her expertise and is now in high demand. A card-carrying freelancer admitted he was itching to sink his teeth into something bigger, and is now moving in-house…on the other side of the world.
It’s amazing to see what people are capable of when they start to believe in themselves. I give myself very little credit for any of this. They do the hard work; they’re just using my tools to do it.
Now, due to overwhelming feedback, I have expanded Plot Your Course to include and benefit web professionals of all kinds: developers and designers, project managers and product owners, marketers and of course UX practitioners too.
I would love to have you in the program. It’s a 10-week intensive with weekly 1.5-hour group sessions, a comprehensive workbook, mp3 guide, 1-on-1 coaching, and a lot more. It all starts May 8.
I’ll be holding information sessions via Google Hangout this week, so be sure to sign up if you’d like to attend. (Shhh…you’ll get a discount code if you attend an info session.)
I look forward to helping you carve your own path to your life’s work. It would be an honor to be a small part of your journey.
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