Don’t be a career

Jan 27, 2024

Reflecting on Steve Jobs’ insightful perspective on creativity, I find it echoes my own journey in design. My path has been shaped by intertwining different threads from various adventures, each one enriching my broader perspective.

A career is so much more than just a job or a way to make a living. It’s a journey of personal growth, a path where your passions, skills, and experiences blend together to shape who you are and how you contribute to the world. It’s about finding meaning in what you do, constantly learning and evolving, and making a difference in your own unique way.

“So to be a creative person, you need to “feed” or “invest” in yourself by exploring uncharted paths that are outside the realm of your past experience. Seek out new dimensions of yourself—especially those that carry a romantic scent.

But one has no way of knowing which of these paths will lead anywhere in advance. That’s the wonderful thing about it, in a way. The only thing one can do is to believe that some of what you follow with your heart will indeed come back to make your life much richer. And it will. And you will gain an ever firmer trust in your instincts and intuition.

Don’t be a career. The enemy of most dreams and intuitions, and one of the most dangerous and stifling concepts ever invented by humans, is the “Career.” A career is a concept for how one is supposed to progress through stages during the training for and practicing of your working life.

There are some big problems here. First and foremost is the notion that your work is different and separate from the rest of your life. If you are passionate about your life and your work, this can’t be so. They will become more or less one. This is a much better way to live one’s life.

[The] risk factor quotient goes down as you encounter the real world. Many [people] find what they believe to be safe harbors (lawyers and accountants), only to wake up ten or fifteen years later and discover the price they paid.

Make your avocation your vocation. Make what you love your work.”

– Steve Jobs, Make Something Wonderful

There’s a certain allure in venturing into the unknown, a kind of romance in discovering new aspects of design and creativity. Embracing projects that were a bit daunting or lacked a clear path often guided me to my most creative and rewarding work. It’s in these ventures into the unknown that I’ve really come into my own.

Trusting my instincts has been key in guiding me through the ambiguous parts of my career. Selecting projects that intuitively felt right transformed my job into a reflection of myself. This approach not only led to unique opportunities but also lent a real authenticity to my work.

The idea of separating my career from what I love has never made sense to me. My job mirrors who I am, mixing what I care about with my work. Sure, taking risks with this mindset can be scary, but the payoff has been deeply rewarding.

This is the way. Do what you love.