Instead of following your passion into a non-existent career, chase career capital for success. Fulfillment and job satisfaction will follow. Being happy at work is all about being realistic and strategic.
In the real world, you want to make sure you have a viable career. You need to do something that others are willing to pay for. The more opportunities that exist, the more likely you are to be able to make a career of it. Your career can’t be contingent on coming up with a big idea, but incremental improvements are viable.
To build a career where you are given the autonomy to work on the things you care most about, you have to be strategic. This means playing the long game. Pick a job where you can build your skills, especially rare ones. Use a craftsman mindset to make it all about the work product. Grow your career capital to shape your work.
In the end, the goal is to make yourself the best you can possibly be. Bring a unique skillset and keep yourself sharp. Constantly produce high-quality work. Show that you are reliable and capable. Be undeniable.
About the Author
Cal Newport is a computer scientist and a tenured professor at Georgetown University. He started his academic career at Dartmouth College and got a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT. Soon after, he began teaching computer science at Georgetown University.
Newport is the author of six books. His work looks at how to work and succeed as a student and a professional. More recently, his research looks at how digital technology and culture can support or interfere with the way people are able to focus on work.
Some of the ideas that Newport has developed include career capital as shared in So Good They Can’t Ignore You, distraction-free deep work needed for the knowledge sectors, and minimizing your time using and dependence on digital technologies.