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3 Reasons Why It’s Never Too Late to Do What You Love

By Jay Shetty

Reprogram what you think you career path is supposed to look like. Life can get heavy with expectations and anxiety, but it’s important to remember that you always have a second chance to start over, find yourself and your purpose, and do what you love. 

Your path to purpose is not linear.

There was once a student who attended Stanford University. Let’s call him Rich. While at college, Rich’s friends would spend hours and hours every night studying. One of these friends, Michael, was a prime example. All he did was study and work. He’d go on to become a successful corporate lawyer.

Rich wasn’t of the same focus and motivation, even though he gave it his best shot. He’d spend fifteen-minute intervals studying for class before giving his attention to his favorite thing to do— reading magazines.

After school, Rich landed a temporary job as an editorial assistant at a sports magazine before working as a security guard and a dishwasher. Compared to Michael, most people would say Rich had wasted his Stanford education. 

Fast forward twelve years. At that point, Rich was working as a technical copywriter. One of his co-worker’s asked him if they could start a magazine together. Their vision was to create Silicon Valley’s first business magazine. He took Rich’s initial designs to a venture capitalist who decided to fund the idea. The magazine wasn’t just good— it was great. 

All that time spent at the library not studying wasn’t wasted after all. Rich had been studying, although he didn’t realize it at the time. He had spent hours and hours doing what he loved— listening to his greater purpose— reading magazines. In actuality, he hadn’t been procrastinating at all, but learning. Observing and digesting all the elements of what made a compelling magazine.

It was only later, when he was called on to create his own magazine, that he realized giving time and energy to what he loved— even when others perhaps didn’t agree with what he was doing— had in fact prepared him perfectly for his purpose and future.  

Rich later wrote, “Those hours reading Sports Illustrated might have wrecked my grades, but curiosity made my career.”

Who is Rich? Rich Karlgaard is the publisher of Forbes magazine and author of Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsessed with Early Achievement. 

He may have taken the road less traveled, but Rich found his purpose in his own time and at his own pace. 

Match Quality tells us that choosing a career early isn’t always better.

An economist compared the education systems in England and Scotland. In England, you decide as a teen what area of work you want to specialize in and apply to University in that specific area. In Scotland it’s similar, but you do not have to pick a specialization so early on. You’re given a few years of focused study to sample different specialized areas.

Logic would suggest that the kids who specialized early on would perform better because they were given more of an opportunity to experience career success and financial stability. But this is the exact opposite of what happened.

Those who chose their specialities later in life experienced higher success and overall match quality.  

Match quality is how well the work we do matches the work we want to do. When you have match quality, you are more likely to feel motivated, deeply engaged, and fulfilled in your career. You know your career is more than a career— it’s an intrinsic part of your purpose.

After an average of six years, those who chose their specialty later in life were shown to stay in their roles longer, become more financially stable, and feel a greater sense of career satisfaction than those who chose their specialty early on. 

You’re taking the time to understand what you like and enjoy.

Feeling like you haven’t found your purpose isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing. 

By pursuing multiple paths and trying out many different approaches, you’re not failing. You’re exploring everything that life has to offer. This is also called sampling. 

I know it can feel like falling behind, but sampling in actuality is work. It’s meaningful life research. You’re not off your path. You’re finding it. 

I spent the entire decade of my twenties sampling. First I worked in business, then I lived as a monk for three years, and then I worked in management consulting and strategy. I even worked at HuffPost as a senior host and producer before I began doing more of the things that I do now— writing, coaching, and guiding others in their own purpose. 

Your unique purpose will most likely change and evolve throughout your life. Remember to always approach yourself with gentle understanding, forgiveness, and grace. You’re constantly growing, even if you don’t see it clearly right now. And if you don’t get your footing in life right away, don’t think of it as a negative. Think of it as a blessing. You’re learning everything you need to know for your beautiful future. 

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