It’s easy to end up going with the flow and losing all meaningful control over the course of your life, both professionally and personally. All you have to do is… well… nothing.

There’s a saying that goes something like “either be the main character in your own story, or you’ll be a side character in someone else’s.” When you fail to take responsibility for your own career and life paths, all you’re doing in practice is ensuring that other people’s actions dictate where you end up. In practice, this always means that you end up being maneuvered and overlooked in the manner most convenient for those around you.

Taking ownership of your own career path is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. It’s one thing to already be well-embedded in a career you find meaningful, and to then pursue something like an online MBA in accounting. But what if you’re more or less nowhere, with more or less no plan of what to do?

Here are some suggestions.

Take stock of your skills and experiences — and be broad in your definitions

To take control of your own career path, you need to be acutely aware of your skills and experiences, and develop a keen sense of how these can be leveraged, either in your current job, or as a side-hustle.

Be broad and optimistic in our definitions here. You might not immediately think you have any meaningful skills or experiences. But maybe you speak two languages, or are a decent cook. Perhaps you could tentatively explore international food journalism?

Even having spent years playing video games may be relevant experience for exploring certain opportunities and niches.

Approach this task with an open mind. You may be able to begin exploring more avenues than you previously thought.

Understand that what you achieve in life is largely going to be in proportion to the sacrifices you’re willing to make

There’s a pleasant but naive notion going around these days that you can expect to have your cake and eat it too. Not only can you be successful in multiple fields at once, says this view, but you can also juggle massive professional success with a rich family life, constant vacation, and dozens of active hobbies.

The age-old reality is that in life, you will largely enjoy success in a given area in direct proportion to the sacrifices you’re willing to make for that thing.

What are you willing to sacrifice for your professional success? Maybe fewer weekends spent watching TV. Maybe earlier morning wakeups. Maybe fewer vacations. Maybe no time spent idly surfing the web during the day.

Always be working on a project or side hustle at any given moment

Comic-creator Scott Adams has gone on the record advising everyone to have at least one side hustle going at any given time, in addition to their day jobs.

In Adams’ reasoning, this keeps the fires of hope and optimism alive, and helps you to get through your day job without becoming resentful or complacent.

It also continually expands your skillset, deepens your experience of the world, and makes you a more interesting person. Of course, any given side hustle may also make you rich in and of itself.

It’s hard to argue with that advice. Want to take ownership of your career path? Get some side-hustles going when you’re out of the office.

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Take Ownership of Your Career - #careeradvice

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