in praise of the unplanned career

If you, like I often do, need some reassurance that it’s okay to stumble towards destiny, I wrote some words for you. Ryerson Folio invited me to submit another piece aimed at my favourite audience – the young person at the cusp.

The essential element of the unplanned career is embracing the emptiness. When you are in school and every second is scheduled, you are taught that unoccupied hours are wasted hours, that allowing downtime between life’s events is unwise. Having gaps in your resume is considered undesirable. When people ask you what you’re doing, it is implicit that “nothing” is not an acceptable answer. Yet your life’s purpose won’t reveal itself to you when you’re constantly in the midst of mundane tasks or doing things just because you’re supposed to. You might think that if you enter a lull you’ll become indolent, but for most human beings indolence quickly loses its charm, and in the absence of obligations you’ll find yourself naturally gravitating towards your real desires, even if you didn’t know what your desires were before.

Read the entire article in Ryerson Folio, or if you’re a student there, pick up a paper copy.

19 thoughts on “in praise of the unplanned career”

  1. As a memeber of the zoomer generation, I have felt the impact of ‘blank spaces’ in my resume later in life. Unfortunately, the corporate world is unforgiving or does not value the time spent chasing passions, dreams, ventures lost to economic downturn, that become unfruitful but make you a stronger person with a wealth of insite to any business or life itself.

  2. Thanks Isabel and Kathleen, you are two of my favourite, brilliant, never-boring women.

    Arax, if you read the article, I do make the case for choosing a more conventional route, if that’s your thing. I guess if you change your mind about chasing dreams at some point and really want a corporate job, you could just lie on your resume. Corporations are always lying to us, so why not lie to them? Tell ’em what they want to hear.

  3. You are a really important voice for those just behind you as well as the rest of use that have been out here slogging it out for some time. Your work is important and touches others in a meaningful way so keep going with the excellent work!

  4. Thanks Tara, Bill and Caroline, so pleased you enjoyed.

    Tara, it’s true that this kind of path is easier to take if you have less obligations in your life. In our twenties, many of us are in a position where the only lives we’re in danger of messing up are our own, so if you’re ever going to drift towards destiny, it’s probably the best time to do it.

  5. Oh my gosh. I’m so happy to have stumbled upon this today — it’s certainly the most brilliant thing I’ve read in a long, long time. I’m 24 and in the exact place you’re writing about here — and having someone else sum it up with such eloquence and soul, someone who’s been there before and can give me some hope for my future — that is incredibly reassuring. Thank you so much for this.

  6. This is brilliant. I’ve been trying to write about this sort of thing for ages. The first version of my blog was ‘from education to employment’ until I realised that I couldn’t write about the transition until I had figured it out myself. Would you mind if I featured this post on my blog? I would love to direct others to your site. Thanks.

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