If you want to be an author, don’t start writing.’ I frowned when I read Scott Young’s (my favourite career skills writer) piece. According to him, the more effective strategy is to first find an agent and start working together to pitch the book idea to publishers before you start writing. Because the most challenging and scariest part of publishing a book is finding a publisher rather than getting it to the paper. Then, only once that has happened can you actually start writing the manuscript. He argues that writing the book beforehand is largely a waste of time because ‘that’s not how the business works.’ So how do you know what works in your business? Research. Basically, not just being an expert in your career, but being an expert about your career. Intentionally research and understand how success in your field looks, to know exactly what actions you need to take step-by-step to reach the next level, get a promotion, achieve more recognition, implement a pending project or simply improve the quality of the work you do. Two, what do you want to do with your life? We often pressure ourselves into believing that life is governed by one big decision and that there’s a certain age by which you should have already made it. We also tend to limit ourselves to believing that we are born with passion and the illusion that being able to combine your interests with your profession is easy, according to Young. The truth is that passion evolves and it’s okay. Sometimes, interests can’t directly be channelled into a source of income. So the key is to stay open to different possibilities while staying patient as one juggles through life. According to Young, staying curious, reading different books, taking on different activities, and meeting different people to create broad associations gives one a lot of chances to stumble on a passion that can work. If your interests are genuine and worth exploring, you can take them on by first eliminating the distractions such as television, excess internet usage, video games, and binge drinking so as to make as much time as possible. Young doesn’t suggest becoming a starving artist and racking up huge debts. The idea is that valid passions need time to grow into income-generating skills. So, one needs to be patient, all the while avoiding getting trapped in a comfortable, but unsatisfying life. The uncomfortable truth is that life doesn’t often go through a predictable story arc. It doesn’t always start with a dream, follow through with hard work and end up with a happily ever after. Instead, it can twist and travel, so we are advised not to obsess over the failed attempt but to stay focused on the next step. Third, what kind of lifestyle do you want? People often talk about what kind of career/jobs they want but they forget that certain working conditions involve certain lifestyles. You may get yourself a job where the company prioritises working long hours because at the end of the day you just need a job, right? Then you find yourself always exhausted, with a nearly impossible schedule to deal with just because you forgot to first ask yourself whether this company is actually a good fit for you. Or you start working towards that very demanding promotion, where the money may be good, but the question is whether the increased salary is worth the added responsibility. You want to be a rich entrepreneur, are you ready to give all it takes? Do you want to take on higher ambitions or do you prefer a minimal comfortable life? Either way is fine as long as one gets to answer it truthfully so as to be ready for the consequences of their choice, as well as the fruits of their hard work by the way.