When You Don't Know What You're Good At

So what? Early career choices are not permanent decisions

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GL Hoffman
“But I don’t know what I am really good at yet.”

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that, I’d have a big pile of nickels.

I have a couple of ideas to share with you, if this is how you think—or it's what your own son or daughter says.

First, so what? Who says you have to know what you are good at when you are 21? I think James Michener said everything you do before you are 40 is just practice anyway.

The point is, early career choices are not permanent decisions, even though they may feel like they are today. It is OK to change your mind, pursue something different, learn a new skill, and adapt. In other words, be flexible and aware of the world and your part in it.

Some people believe once they hit middle age (what is that now? 50?) that their life’s work is set in stone. That they have to pay for past decisions good or bad. Far from it—the world is full of older people who only found their true life’s passion at a later time.

Next, try a bunch of things. These days, it is easy to have a side job, a part-time thing. Use these spare hours to develop a new skill, or attitude, or money-making venture. I believe that soon all of us will have several income-producing jobs (we must in fact), so get that small Web site up and going, develop your eBay business storefront—almost anything can help you find your passion.

Here is the last thing: Even if you fail at something and find that you really hate it—that is OK. After all, many times you have to eliminate things you really think looked promising that ultimately prove not to be.

G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneuer and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com or at JobDig.com.