London is in the middle of the world's dumbest heatwave. It's 10:13PM as I write this and I'm still sweating. There are a lot of perks to being an expat in Western Europe, but the American kid may forever struggle with this whole lack-of-air-conditioning thing.
But also, like, I spent most of last week in Amsterdam drinking cold rosé by a canal. So... TL;DR I'm super fine, you know?
I had a lot of conversations in Amsterdam about the future.
It's the lack of a precedent that we kept coming back to.
Unmarried and childless in our late 20s. Working in jobs that didn't ever exist for our parents' generation. Living in cities far away from home. Threatening to move home. Threatening to move farther away. Contemplating switching jobs (again) or building a company (why not) or starting a commune on Mars (it'll happen).
We're obsessed with how to make ourselves happy, and we're even more obsessed with the fact that there doesn't seem to be any surefire roadmap or precedent by which to accomplish said happiness.
You could spend an entire decade, if not an entire lifetime, circling the drain on this obsession. Constantly muttering to yourself and your friends about 'happiness' without ever making any progress towards it. I've made this mistake myself personally at least a thousand times.
But, as it stands, you are not going to find happiness, and neither am I.
Because happiness is impossible unless it’s quantifiable. And, odds are, it hadn't occurred to you to get very specific about what would make you happy. And until you decide, you’re going to remain totally out of luck.
So, go on and tell me:
What does a happy career situation mean to you?
Is it just straight-up more money? More vacation days? Is it working for yourself? A shorter commute? Is it working in a place with people closer to your own age? For a company whose values you agree with? With more opportunities to make friends or find mentors? Or less pressure to socialize with colleagues? For a startup? Are you sure? For a cooler company in general? What does "cooler" mean to you, anyway?
Which is it? What do you want?
It’s too easy to get distracted and lose another month to procrastination. It's too easy to get sidetracked talking about the far-off future and forget to take a step forward this week.
If you're planning on looking for a new job before the end of 2018, I want you to start getting clear on what career happiness actually looks like for you. Today.
Start by answering all the questions I asked you above—even if it’s just a yes or no. See what else comes to mind. Write it all down. For real. Email me back your answers. Just do it, right now.
And then decide which ones are your top 3 non-negotiables, write them down, and do NOT apply to a job unless it meets that criteria.
I am completely confident in your ability (and mine) to lead happier lives. I am completely confident in your ability (and mind) to find jobs we like, that we're good at, that make us happy. I know it's totally possible.
But we can't just gaze longingly towards complete emotional nirvana without action.
I need you to decide: What are the 3 non-negotiable things that will make you happier in your next career step?
Email me back your answers. I'm holding you to this. I'm challenging you to stop fawning over the idea of happiness, and actually tell me what you want. This is your chance.
I'll check in again in 48 hours, okay? I'll share my answers, too.