ASK RAMIT: “I’m stuck! How do I pick between two passions?”

October 26th, 2012 - 73 Comments

One of our generation’s defining problems is TOO MANY OPTIONS.

Our parents don’t get this. They’re like, “Go get a good job! They have really good benefits!” I once went home during college and a family friend was visiting. He worked at a very large consumer-packaged goods company and believed I was a lost soul who needed advice. Imagine my face when he gave me this advice:

“Ramit, you should join this company. You work here 30 years, you’ll have a MILLION DOLLARS when you retire!”

I looked at him in disbelief. A million? That’s it? 30 years from now? Like a good Indian son, I sat there quietly, spooning myself more keema and baingan bharta (white people, look it up).

See, we don’t WANT to work at the same company for 30 years. But at the same time, we’re stuck choosing among 2, 3, sometimes 10 different ideas. What if we choose the wrong one and close all the other doors?

I got a really good question from IWT reader Sean B. and suggested how I would approach it:

“I am stuck between two conflicting career paths. I already have an undergrad degree in film production, but I’m stuck outside of New York and LA in the Midwest with no film jobs. I’m getting disillusioned with the lack of career progress. I’m conflicted about pursuing a major passion of mine for most of my life: science. I keep thinking of going back to school for another degree in science, but can’t be specific beyond that. How can I choose which to follow?”

PREVIEW OF RAMIT’S SURPRISING ANSWER: I will not tell you to light a candle, put on a cashmere robe, and quietly chant affirmations.

Instead, I WILL tell you how the classic myth we have of “thinking our way to clarity” — and how I would tackle this. I know, because I did exactly this when I graduated.

If you have a bunch of ideas and you’re not sure how to narrow them down, you’ll want to watch this new video, released today.

If you’re curious how this exact testing process works, you can get my free mini-course on finding a job you love.

Btw, have you ever been stuck between two paths? How did you choose which was right? Leave a comment below.

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73 Comments

 

Comments

  1. Our parents’ generation doesn’t understand the chances of working at the SAME company for 30 years are very low, given the volatile economy. You’re also right about the paradox of choice leaving workers unlikely to work for the same employer for even more than 10 years. Since the market doesn’t care about your passions, I think your way of testing and verifying before making the major commitment makes sense.

  2. Wow Ramit, this video couldn’t have been released at a better time.
    At 28, I’m going through the same thing right now, or I guess it’s more accurate to say I’ve been ignoring/doing nothing about it for the past few years.
    I’ve actually sat at this “fork in the road” twice in my life now, same 2 options both times. When I was in college, I decided to take the path towards biology, in which I ended up with my degree in. However, after a few years/jobs in the field, I came to realize maybe I made the wrong choice, because no matter what job I took working in a research lab, the other would always find it’s way into my work. And the worst part of that was it would come more naturally to me than the biology did, while not getting paid for it.
    About 6 months ago I decided it was time to do something about it, while I was still single and not depended on by anyone. This time I was going to take the other path towards programming. But instead of going back to school for another degree (and more debt) or just quitting my job and finding one in that field (pretty hard w/o that degree/background)… I decided to take a half-step and enroll in a python certification program at my university specifically designed for working professionals.
    This will hopefully allow me to 1)document my knowledge/experience (another piece of paper), 2)network with others in my class (most of whom work in that field), and 3)network with the instructors/presenters (all of whom also work a day job in that field). Knowing that I’ll be spending at least a few hours a week for the next 9 months with this group also helps me because I’m better at presenting a finished working product than selling an idea/work in progress.
    My family/extended family’s response has been “you’ve got a great stable job, benefits, retirement – what else do you want?” It’s hard explaining to a generation who came to this country as refugees with absolutely nothing… all they wanted was stability in life and to grow old happy and health.
    Well, making this decision has already made me happy :) The others will follow.

  3. This may seem obvious, but is Sean is going to fly to NYC/LA+++ it would be a good idea to meet with people from both film and science on those trips. Both cities have a lot of both professions, and at least on the science side I know they are (generally) very willing to meet and share insight.

  4. Being in Los Angeles and having some friends in the entertainment industry, I know that many of them started locally near their home town doing various things, and then later relocated to Los Angeles. Before they moved here, they were already doing some stuff, even though the scale is smaller. So they actually appeared to be bigger fish in the smaller pond. By the time they moved here, they already have a resume or portfolio to show for it. I suspect that the film production stuff is like this for the reader as well.

  5. I ran into this issue in my mid-20s. I loved performing and had done it all my life, but it wasn’t paying the bills. So I went the corporate route and was hired as a sales rep for a large company. All the time I was in that position, I fulfilled my love of performing through hobbies — I trained to become a competitive swing dancer, I did community theater, you name it. All that performance experience came in handy when a trainer position opened up at our corporate HQ — I got the job, plus a 30% pay increase, and was promoted again within the department a year later because of my strong performance in the classroom. It helped again when I got my current job — I now do corporate communications (I’m still with the same company), and I’m in constant demand for all the creative projects because I have skills and talent that no-one else in my area of the company has. My ability to be natural on-camera while reading a teleprompter in a company video has had even executives in the company asking me for tips. And — I’m still performing as a hobby, doing extra work in movies and TV shows filming in my city during my vacation time. I’m able to make a very good, stable living while still doing what I love.

  6. Wouldn’t someone be lucky to even HAVE two passions to choose from? Ramit has discussed having “interests” instead of “passions.” That resonates a lot more with me.

    p.s. Baingan bharta is Punjabi!

    • @Sue

      Baingan Bharta is a dish – grilled eggplant fruit (Brinjal), mashed and sautéed (or fried) with onion, tomato and mild spices; and Keema is minced meat!

  7. Ramit, I loved your answer to the diverging interests question. I would submit, though, that flying out to the coasts may not be necessary. Even Iowa has a film industry (albeit on a smaller scale), some including big budgets and known actors (“Field of Dreams,” Bridges of Madison County,” etc.). This person may be able to talk to film industry experts without incurring large travel expenses by checking out local entertainment sections of the newspaper for info on auditions, upcoming shooting locations, etc. As for science, every state has multiple colleges and industries filled with various types of scientists. The opportunity for a coffee talk should be available quite close to home. Then, if one path is clearly a “winner,” put out the money to go where most of the jobs are and expand those networks. Or am I all wrong in this attitude? Are the coasts the only way to go? (I do realize the creative corridors are recognized as the coasts, but even so, if I were looking into film, I would head to Portland, Oregon where many TV series are produced, instead of LA. The costs would be less and the series producers work with many locals, so may be more willing to do a coffee meeting.) It’s okay–just tell me I’m a dinosaur and LA is the only place that counts.

    • When you’re talking about your life’s work, I’m not concerned with saving a few hundred bucks here or there. I want to talk to the best, no matter the cost.

  8. Here’s something that popped into my head when I heard he was interested in both filmmaking and science:

    http://www.94elements.com/

    It’s a group of people who are working to make documentaries about many of the elements on the periodic table. Without knowing his specific skillset, it’s hard to know whether he could be a major help on the project, but it might be something he could consider reaching out to the people about.

  9. This is pertinent to me right now at almost 39. I’m a SAHM with a first grader, and while right now my boyfriend is very graciously making me a well-kept woman, the librarian I’ve been volunteering with for the past year’s worth of Saturdays is pushing me to get my MLIS and do this work for a living. My previous education resulted in a bachelors in civil/environmental engineering, so it would be quite a shift. One of the only 2 ALA accredited programs in my state has an online-only program, and being a state college the costs would be much more manageable than $120K. I’m scheduled to meet with a good friend of mine Monday who is currently just leaving the field to discuss the industry and options, pros, cons, etc. Since my income right now is effectively zero and the kid is finally old enough for inexpensive child care options to be available, improving my income suddenly seems dramatically doable.

  10. I’m sorry, but the freeze frame in the youtube video above is scaring me.

  11. Hey Ramit,

    Was really interested to know this information but can’t you have a no video version. For some strange reason, some videos don’t show up on my computer. I hate videos anyway :P

    Thanks.

  12. good video. GEt out of your head and into reality. Put some effort into this quest. Stop taking about it and start doing about it.

  13. stop talking about it and start doing about it.

  14. “white people, look it up”
    That is quite racist and condescending. There are many other ways of wording that without having to target one race, imply they are all stupid, and that they aren’t worthy of an explanation. I bought the creative live package. I haven’t downloaded it yet and I already regret it.

    • Right…it’s racist to tell people to look up an obscure term, knowing there’s no reasonable way they would know it.

      If that joke offended you, this site probably isn’t right for you.

    • Seriously dude? I’m about as white as they come and I thought it was funny. Don’t take yourself (or your race) so seriously, it’s bad for your health (and your social life).

    • If I were you, I’d contact the master of both niches – Randy Olson, the author of “Don’t Be Such a Scientist”. He worked as a science professor AND as a Hollywood filmmaker creating ecological movies.

  15. Ramit, your video made me reflect on another problem I have come across – how to handle a job offer when you still have one or more other opportunities advancing through their interview cycles, but the first company wants an answer right away. In college, companies knew to extend an offer and wait a few weeks for the candidate to decide. Since I’ve been in the workforce, that courtesy was never extended. Is there a way to get the first company to wait a couple of weeks for my decision without them insisting on a quicker response?

  16. Ramit, I think you are missing an obvious potential piece for Sean. I worked in “science”, actually neuro-immunology research on Multiple Sclerosis for almost 10 years with an ivy league B.A. in Architecture. Yeah, I’m not a role model but a cautionary tale. If Sean has academic institutions near him he could probably get work as a tech for a year and find out if he really does like science. If the answer is yes then he has experience that will go a long way to get him into grad school. Why would a scientist running a lab hire a guy with film production background? Because scientists need to disseminate their work in ways that they weren’t ever really trained to do. Much of that is visual and increasingly video based. Conceivably Sean could combine his ‘passions’ if he has an entrepreneurial bent and start a service where he makes short movies for scientists. Just a thought, you may be the go-getter indian kid, I was always the ‘use what you have’ Guido chick.
    Loved your CreativeLive presentation BTW!

  17. Are the people you talk to in the fields going to be totally candid about their professions? What if you were interested in a field and found someone in that field to talk to but they don’t like their job? Do you think they’ll sugercoat how much they hate their job?

    • This is a barrier. People are dying to be honest, provided you ask the right questions in the right way, and you’re genuine about why you’re asking them.

    • TC,

      From my experience, during an actual job interview people will sugarcoat because it is PC. They can’t bad mouth job or employer to prospective candidate. With informal chats over coffee people are more candid. While it might not be 100% real raw honesty, they might tell you about why they are looking to leave in the next year and you start to see some red flags that way.

  18. Thank you so much, Ramit. This is a great video!!
    Watching your video kinda reminds me of a quote by Marie Forleo, “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought. Take action now, you’ll find your truth.” Cannot agree more.

  19. I’m going the other way to Sean. My background is engineering (not strictly science, but you know what I mean) and I’m moving into film and video production.

    In fact I took plenty of Ramit’s advice early on regarding meeting people, conducting these really informal information interviews over a friendly coffee, and I learnt enough to convince me that I was on the right path.

    If Sean approached me for example, I could reel off hundreds of jobs scientists do beyond simply teaching and research. Approaching people in the industry is always worth it.

  20. To Sean B. question, seems like he could do pretty well making documentary-style films about science in the Midwest with all the Big Ten schools.

    • @joey, I’m glad you suggested this because I was going to make a similar comment. Indeed, Ramit wasn’t very clear about Sean B’s passion for science. There’s a difference between wanting to do science (as in research) and being a heavy science enthusiast. Most of the comments here assume the former, but I didn’t see any reason for that assumption.

      Anyway, if Sean is interested, here’s a good example of mixing film + something else: Alton Brown. He had a video production career, but had a passion for cooking. So, he enrolled in cooking school. Some time afterward, he mixed the two & developed the show “Good Eats” which continues to set the standard for popular food science, even though it’s more or less off the air.

      What if Sean made interesting films about the science he cares about? Does he really need an advanced degree for that? Or perhaps just a lot of passion, imagination, and the desire to read and talk with people? (We’re not including money here because, well…Kickstarter.)

  21. Hey Ramit. Perfect timing for this video. I know exactly what I want to do but I am having a hard time bringing my dream to fruition. I would like to work as a Forensic Child Interview Specialist. I have reviewed the requirements and started an internship to gain experience in this field. I can get all of the required experience excluding interviewing because I am a police officer and my department won’t approve this for part-time employment. Option B would be to wait until I advance to being a Sex Crimes Detective, remain in the position for 2-3 years, and then reapply for the job I want. Most positions require 2-5 years of actual experience and I am not able to get that without leaving my current job. It would be a no brainer if it weren’t for the fact that I need my current income. :(

  22. You don’t need to be in NYC/LA for film. Unless you want to be a cog in a large film production studio making crap money and harder to move up. Look in your area and see the needs, get out there and “ask without selling” you will be surprised to find there is a market on your front door step. Now it may not be making block busters, but you could be the top rung on the ladder. I’ve made a production studio and making six figures in a city of 45,000 people. I generated a market that was non existing in my small town. And now I’m working for some of canada’s top 100 companies. Oh yeah and I’m only 25.

    We were only limited by location when we had to be home to make phone calls and dial-up to get online. Location means nothing anymore.

    I think he should step out of the box that he’s living in, reach out and test different markets. Lack of job progress is more of a lack of listening to what Ramit has to say.

  23. Personally, I read “stuck in the Midwest” to mean that for some reason (family obligations, serving probation for some minor offence, etc), he physically cannot leave the area he’s in to pursue a career somewhere else in the country where jobs are more plentiful. I once turned down a job offer in Michigan because I was caring for a sick family member in NJ. That was a higher prioirty for me then advancing my career.

    But to the topic of having to decide between divergent career paths, largely, I’ve just avoided having to choose. Not wanting to close off options is exactly my rationale. There are a handful of careers that I am, more or less, equally prepared for and I would find equally rewarding. Once I get a job in one, that will be the direction I will go. But I see no point in arbitrarily picking one to pursue when there are others I’d enjoy just as much.

  24. Myth of grad school was biggest takeaway in Dream Job for me. I thought deep research was visiting schools, talking to admissions officers and current students. Better to bypass that and go to people in careers that interest you. Most people probably don’t need grad school and most people can certainly do without the debt that accompanies it. Plus you might feel stuck after ending up in something you don’t like but feel obligated to continue.

  25. @Disbelief: Not that your comment deserves a reply but I felt obliged to defend Ramit since I was in the creativeLive audience for the 3 days he was teaching. Ramit is very respectful and kind in person but having followed his blog for about a year I’m also somewhat familiar with his sense of humor and how he chooses to communicate via his blog. He’s not racist and he’s also not terribly concerned if some people think that he is. He’s a master at reaching his target audience and everybody else can subscribe to a different blog if they don’t find the value in what he’s saying. It seems a bit ridiculous to pay for a product like the cL course and then not be able to look past the things you don’t like about it in order to glean from it what you find helpful and valuable.

    Thanks, Ramit, for adding value to my life both in person and through your advice on the web. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  26. Zing! You can’t “think your way to clarity.” GREAT WORDS. I feel like you’ve communicated that concept before, but putting it that way drives it home for me.

    Unrelated to “dream job” but related to how utterly lazy it is to think that we can sit in a room and “think our way to clarity” I was recently struggling with figuring out a research design for my thesis. I literally had friends (and an ADVISOR), who told me, “you just need to sit and think about the method, consider the different ways you could approach it, what additional variables might crop up with the different options and ways to eliminate those problems in your research.” I did that (for a couple of WEEKS) and got NOWHERE. At one point, I considered creating my test materials, but thought, “What if I spend all this time working out this method and find at the very end that it’s not going to work? I shouldn’t waste my time. It will just come to me if I think about it enough.” Talk about CRAP. Once I decided to spend the time TESTING my different ideas, I had my method VERY quickly (not the first manifestation, but maybe the third, and it’s VERY similar to my original idea, just tweaked a little).

    You’ve been saying it to us for YEARS, Ramit. TEST, TEST, TEST. But my laziness (and invisible script that I don’t want to waste my time), kept me from applying it earlier. Going to remember that next time. It’s not wasting my time (or Shawn’s money) to INVEST in TESTING. Geez, you’d think I’d know that by now………..

  27. About the time I was ready to focus on a major in photography, my university started examining all the “fine art” programs to decide which ones they would continue funding. In August (many years ago) when my instructors didn’t know if they would be teaching in the fall, I decided I had to find out for myself if photography was what I wanted to do.

    In those pre-internet days the only tool was the phone book. I made a list of the commercial photography studios in the area, pulled together a portfolio and a resume and went knocking on doors.

    It was one of the hardest things I ever had to force myself to do. The result was I was hired as a studio assistant at the 3rd or 4th studio I visited. I painted backdrops, souped film, printed photos in the darkroom and assisted the photographers in the studio and on shoots.

    Sounds exciting, but it was really pretty boring work. After 18 months when I asked myself if I wanted to be like any of the photographers I worked for, the answer was “No.”

    Saved me a wasted degree on the wrong career path. And it also taught me a lot about photography and composition, which I ultimately put to use when I worked as a journalist working with staff photographers and still use this day as a painter.

    Trying to think it through would never have given me the same experience and choices.

    Sound advice, Ramit.

  28. In the video, Ramit talks about this being a common dilemma for 20 somethings. I’m 52 and have just recently been through a similar dilemma. Do I go for a Ph.D. (6 years) or a Masters (3)? I chose the Masters degree because I talked to people in the field and learned the PhD would not be of substantially greater financial benefit in the long run. Plus, time really is an issue for me.

  29. Ramit, I had this conversation with another young man Sean’s age the other day. I’ll be brief.
    30 yrs ago, I entered College majoring in Computer Science(another BROAD Term for I.T. back in those days…the early 80s). Three years later, I dropped out of College and got a job in the field at which time evolved into Information Technology at a local Hospital in my area. After a year of working, I realized that wasn’t my passion. At that time I was 24 years old and frustrated because I’m thinking..NOW WHAT? So, I saw an ad in the paper for Acting Classes and I haven’t looked back. Performing has been my passion having a music background as a child. Luckily, thanks to my experience in I.T. I was able to keep my job, go back to college to get a degree in Communications and still pursued my Acting Passion. I’ve moved to two different cities…first Atlanta and then LA where I’ve currently lived for the past 17 years working as an I.T. person while pursuing the Acting profession until last year I was laid off…for the Third Time from my LAST Corporate job. With the money they paid me to leave(and receiving unemployment)…I have a nice nest egg to pursue my Passion full time…at least for a little while. Oh…and I built a nice I.T. resume AND Acting resume during those years.
    My point is Sean needs to take action while he is in his 20s so he can figure out if “SCIENCE” or his “FILM CAREER” is what he is meant to do. He also needs to avoid the excuse of “being Stuck” in his town. I had to make that same decision 25 years ago and got UNSTUCK….and very glad I did.

  30. Yes.

    Going to school for landscape architecture, but very passionate about marketing/branding.

    Realized the link between the two: designing the HUMAN EXPERIENCE.

    Now translating the skills each of them offer into creating a unique skill-set that I would believe very few people have.

  31. I have enjoyed this for about a year now Ramit, small test usually nothing over $2000 and record the results do i really want to spend 5 years? 10 years? doing this? Most of what i have tested falls into i be better off just building a business or invent something and someone in that field to do it for me.

    Thanks Ramit
    Steve

  32. Ramit, you rock. I’ve been pitching your IWT philosophies to my friends and many have embraced it.

    Dealing with options is certainly a 1st world problem that prevents many people from being happy. I’d be interested in your take on Barry Schwartz’s talk about the paradox of choice: http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html.

    After watching Charlie Hoen’s TED talk I’m wondering when you’ll be on the TED stage? ;)

  33. Hi all,

    I’m 41 and have always felt paralyzed by the “too many choices” syndrome. I have always thought of myself as the jack of all trades; master of none when it comes to what I’m interested in. I absolutely love, LOVE the point that you can’t think yourself to clarity. The hours and hours I’ve spent thinking and overanalyzing have gotten me nowhere.

    But yesterday, in the middle of a phone interview, when the recruiter asked me about my last position (from which I was laid off two months ago), I found myself stating that content writing was “my favorite part of the job”. I never realized that I had a favorite part of any job I’ve ever had. But my answer makes sense. And, all of the “mistakes” and “wrong turns” on my path have led me to this revelation. Had I not taken any action which culminated in those mistakes, I would not have learned the truth nor gained the skills I needed for my “dream job” along the way.

    Also, as a “white person” (although, I think I look kind of light beige-ish), I welcomed Ramit’s suggestion to look up the foods he mentioned. They look fantastically yummy! I think I’ll copy a recipe and try them.

    Thanks, Ramit!

  34. Honestly, I don’t decide. This just happened to me six months ago. I was paralyzed, did nothing, and both job offers expired. Pathetic, I know.

  35. I find this post to be both timely, and interesting from the point of view, that indeed we are often given far too many choices.

    I made a choice between something I was innately good at, and something that I was passionate over and had to work extra had to be good at. I have always been environmentally driver. Even from a young age. When I was going through admissions for University, my academic advisor actually told me I would amount to nothing as a scientist and I was better off asking for a transfer so I could study languages and become a teacher. I have always been good at languages, often sleeping through those classes in high school and still pulling off 100% on everything.

    i was more interested in sciences. It allowed me to ask why, learn the why, and learn all the little pathways between that why and the next. They gave me something to work at. Languages came easily, didn’t provide the fulfillment of actually learning something, and though I loved them, I didn’t see myself being happy just learning about those in University.

    I chose a science based program, and stayed broad in my studies, keeping all the sciences in my arsenal. In the end, choosing a career closed a circle I had begun when I was 8 years old. I went into the Waste Industry, specifically exercising my science background, and my passion for the environmental movement. This caused me to return to school to pursue my degree (I have a college diploma and 1.5 years of work experience from those years), which I am happy to say, I will be finishing in April 2013.

    I followed something I was passionate about from a very early age, and translated that into what I get paid to do every day. Had I have chosen the path of languages, at this stage, though my dream for those would be to be a translator for the United Nations, may or may not have happened, and I may or may not be enjoying myself right now. The path I chose allows me to know that each day I go to work and do my job, I’m removing that many more chemicals from industries who are starting to care about the waste they create. I can be an activist. I am in the field I studied. And I love knowing that no matter what happens in the world, waste will always be created and need to be dealt with!

  36. If I were you, I’d contact the master of both niches – Randy Olson, the author of “Don’t Be Such a Scientist”. He worked as a science professor AND as a Hollywood filmmaker (he produced ecological movies).

  37. I left my office PR job to pursue a goal of starting my own business. Cooking happened to be a passion of mine, a skill I was decent at, and something that filled a gap in the dining scene in my town. With $500, I started catering events, cooking at festivals, then business picked up and i’m cooking 4-5 hours a night. After a few months I didn’t want to cook – even for myself anymore! Now I have a PR job again, it wasn’t too hard to go back or explain my time off. These life decision aren’t always final and there are no awards for “most efficiently” lived lives, so don’t sweat losing time or money. They’re being used for something worthwhile.

  38. I went to school for marketing because of the start of what I thought would be an awesome career with Red Bull. Graduated, found out that marketing elsewhere isn’t exactly like marketing with RB. Newsletters and email blasts at a desk 9 – 5 was slow torture. I had always had an interest in Physical Therapy but didn’t want to spend more time and money in school so I met a few massage therapists who specialized in orthopaedic work for coffee/lunch and asked them their opinion about a career change and for positives and negatives and they were honest. So I went to school for massage therapy and changed my life. Now I’m doing connective tissue work – something I’m passionate about (helping people) and I’m able to work for myself. Who knew I was following Ramit’s DJ suggestions just a few years ago without even realizing it?? :) It is definitely easy to say “I just need to figure things out.” or “I just need to think about it” though.

  39. Dear Ramit,

    Thank you so much for all your exceptionally insightful and truly invaluable work.

    I am a 60-year-old composer / piano teacher. Together with my husband (a Russian composer / pedagogue) we have a music related company.

    Ever since Andrew, a 22-year old advanced student of my husband’s – now a business partner – introduced me to your work, I have been referring other students and youngsters to your site! In fact, I just forwarded this one about how to choose between 2 dream jobs to a student who will be going to college next year.

    I watched and bought your 3-day course at CreativeLives and enjoyed every bit of it and am learning to implement your techniques. Only wish you were there when I was in my 20′s! But, as the old cliché goes: Better late than never!

    So, thank you again,
    Sheila

  40. Hi Ramit,
    Good call addressing this problem. How would you address a similar problem when it comes to moving to a different country in order to achieve your goals and thrive.
    My case here being that I come from a poor Eastern European country but my family has enough to afford everything we need+ small treats.
    As a very good software developer I’ve always been sucked towards UK and US, especially SF area.
    Now for last 5 years there’s been a battle and a trade off between family and friends and job. I’ve turned down so far 4 6 figures job offers and I’m stuck somewhere in Europe where I make about 60% of that, have family relative close but nothing the at its best. Everything is kind of mediocre. I’ve lived in us for 6 months and I know the working environment is more dynamic than Europe.

    Whatever I do I feel the best thing would be to move to SF area but but family and friends are begging me not to move away. I found myself split between job and family/friends/
    How would you address such issue where is not necessary a pure technical problem.

  41. Second Joe’s take on this one, I’m a DJ student too. I took a job at a renowned organisation in a position that does not challenge me and I now see the writing on the wall, so am actively continuing my job search. Also, I want to live in another city on another continent so at the end of Sept just after accepting the new job offer, I set up 4 meetings with top people where I want to work and who are top performers (TPs) in my area of interest. I took a 10 hour flight and traveled to 2 different countries to meet these people, and it was the best thing I could have done. Sure, it wiped out a good bit of the savings I had, BUT since I had a job (not DJ, but $ job) lined up when I got back, I’m cinching in my belt for a while.
    TP 1 = did lunch & she is now aware of me + gave me good advice about how to get my foot in the door.
    TP 2 = coffee meeting (yes, I took a train to another country just for coffee with him) – mind-blowing & made a friend who I’ll keep in touch with and w/whom one day I’d like to work, priceless.
    TP 3 = lunch meeting – general chat, got good advice, became more of a friendly relationship & she asked me to let her know if she can do anything for me! (I’m keeping that ace up my sleeve for a highly targeted help request) TP3 is a gov’t official who can help me.
    TP 4 = lunch with a major head who I had met a year ago for coffee (natural networking) and who is now a friend who lets me know when jobs are open, is honest about how things are, etc.
    Now, I’m saving up $, maintaining my job hunt & planning to move to the place I want to live.
    One thing is for sure, life is too short, so now I’ve eliminated 1 choice and can focus on DJ & setting up my own business!

  42. “Right…it’s racist to tell people to look up an obscure term, knowing there’s no reasonable way they would know it.”

    It’s racist to tell people BY RACE, Ramit, and you know it, but now it’s considered cool ‘n’ groovy to point the gun at white people, especially older, white people. I’ve gotten so much out of your content and I thank you for that, yet I’m reminded of another brilliant individual from many years ago, Dr. Werner Von Braun. Great scientist, if you just forget about his ex-boss…..

    • Oh, come on now..

      What’s up with this whole political correctness thing. You can make a statement about a group without being an -ist of some kind. Most white people in fact do not know what keema and baingan bharta are. I certaintly didn’t until I looked it up. How is making a joke about that offensive?

      I think that comparing someone who makes a joke about white people not knowing Indian national dishes to a an ex SS officer is a bit of a stretch, don’t you think?

  43. “Right…it’s racist to tell people to look up an obscure term, knowing there’s no reasonable way they would know it.” – Ramit

    I agree that it is not racist to write: “people that don’t know, look it up.” That was the point. I’m not here to troll so I’ll drop it. I get your sense of humor and I’m here because I like your work.

  44. I love how you say things, Ramit. I’m in the film industry here in LA. I teach actors and new filmmakers how to break into the industry by WORKING in it. It all happens through relationships.

    Whenever anyone asks me about going to film school, my response is always, “The industry doesn’t care if you went to film school. The people who hire want good people on their team, period. They have productions to do, and that’s what their mind is on. Come to them with experience, a great attitude, and a solid work ethic and they’ll give you a try.” The good news is, it’s about the person, how good they are to work with, that matters.

    In fact, film school can hurt you because film school students typically come out of school expecting to direct, and with chips on their shoulder, and producers don’t want to deal with that. There are too many other good people.

    One thing I would suggest for Sean, is to work in his local market. There are shoots happening all over the US now. I’ve got students working in Chicago, Milwaukee, Orlando, Houston, Omaha, Nebraska for goodness sake. You don’t need to be in LA or NYC to get started.

    Then, when you’re on shoots, you meet people from LA and NYC. The film industry is like a massive web. One of my students, Elias, started in Omaha, Nebraska. He got on shoots there and met people from LA and New Orleans. He then moved to New Orleans and worked on TV shows and huge feature films there. He has built a massive amount of connections with Directors and Producers from around the country. He can go anywhere and work. Right now, he’s on a feature film shooting in Omaha, NB making around $400/day.

    There is money to be made in the entertainment industry. My first year I made $80,000. But the way in, isn’t through going to school. The way in, is through HUSTLE.

    Yes, the way you get anything in life is going full force towards it and hustle. If you want to know how I did it, here is a link to my bio. http://www.friendsinfilm.com/real-bio

    What you are saying, Ramit, is so true. You cannot figure much out in a vacuum. Everything is figured out as you go for it. You also turn into a person who goes for it too, and that compounds your success.

    So, yes! Don’t go to more school! Get out there and meet people in the industry you want to excel in. Get to work! There is massive opportunity, but only for those who go after it.

  45. This is an out of the box situation (at least for this topic/site), but it’s the first thing that came to mind when I read that question about two paths.

    I’m transgendered (female-to-male), and there was a point where I had to make a decision: do I keep living miserably and pretending to be something I’m not, or do I start living like being male is real for me, instead of denying it to my grave… and just SEE if it feels right?

    So I started transition, and I never looked back. All I had to do was take action (instead of sitting around thinking about it) to know whether it was right or wrong, and in this case, it was right.

    But how did I get there? By talking to people that had already done it. NETWORKING, even with “big name” people (as big name as it comes in that community, anyway). And then by trying on the “role” myself, as all the questions I’d asked of people who were already where I was considering lead me in that direction.

    Maybe choosing a career path is not as different as I would have assumed?

    Food for thought, that’s for sure. Thanks, Ramit.

    P.S.–this white person laughs at your racist jokes

  46. Just the advice I needed to remember! Like a commenter above, I found a career option that combines two of my passions (one of which being filmmaking, what a coincidence), and shortly thereafter was offered an opportunity to literally test it out by studying to be an assistant through a program that would cost $600 for certification–a MUCH cheaper price tag than 4-6 years in graduate school for full licensure. Though I found the path by thinking it through, I know I won’t know if I truly enjoy it until I can test it out. I’m making a note to finally follow through with the assistant certification before making the commitment to graduate school in that field. Thanks for the reminder!

  47. I was faced with this situation when I was deciding a career route. I chose to go with one that had the most viability in terms of career success, financial rewards and just the overall “package” that the passion comes with or can bring to you over time.

    when two or more passions are equally alike in terms of enthusiasm, interest and desire, I would say go with one that brings the most collateral rewards with them. it is much easier to get more excited and enthusiastic about a passion that also brings with it superior financial and other such rewards.

    fast forward years later, I absolutely have no regrets

  48. Thanks for putting things into perspective Ramit. Sure, we need to think about things, but making a decision without doing some research does seem silly.

  49. I never understood why Sean B. thought he was stuck in the midwest. Personally I went to school for theater, worked in it then started working in film and TV in Chicago. You definately have to do research because I’ve met people who left LA and NYC to come to Chicago to persue there film careers and are doing pretty well. I too am a “science” nut… well more technology. So the digital filmmaker is more so where I’ve been leaning toward. I do believe in getting more knowledge about what you want to do for me that was reading a few books.
    I think the idea that you have to be in NYC or LA to be sucessful in the creative arts is BS. It’s akin to getting that degree and getting a good job with benefits for 30 years then you’ll be rich and sucessful. Many of the the people I have worked with within the industry only went to those coasts to continue their careers.

  50. When personally faced with such a fork in the road a couple of years ago — pursue a career writing fiction or pursue business analysis — I kept my job as a support person, but pursued the writing option as a side venture. I set aside time to write in the evening every day, started reading more of the kind of fiction I wanted to write, listened to podcasts and read books on writing, joined an on-line writer’s group, etc. I completed several stories, had them critiqued by my writing group and my spouse (who has a master’s in English and editorial experience) and sent them off for consideration. After doing that for about a year, I noticed that I was clock-watching during my writing time — something I never do on my day job — so I gave it up. That experiment cost me some leisure time and some modest costs for subscriptions, postage, etc. but there wasn’t a big impact on me or my family.

    The next year, I got very focused on the BA field — joined the local professional association, talked with BA’s in my company (including some with similar backgrounds), and worked with BA’s on projects. I let people know I was interested, applied for several internal positions, and was finally picked up for the role. I’ve been at it for about a year, and I’m quite happy with it.

    If I have any concerns about the process, it’s knowing how long to keep it going. I kept after the writing for about a year, and it really seems like I should have figured it out sooner than that. I intentionally limited the time I would look for a BA position, and intended to quit and move on to something else if I didn’t get an offer in a year — and it took over ten months. I easily could have missed the opportunity.

    So I guess the question I have for Ramit is, “When ‘trying out’ or ‘testing’ a prospective career, how long is long enough?”

  51. Before doing anything else, make a decision. What do you want in your life? After realizing what it is, then make a step forward. Prepare and think so that every action would count and so that you won’t waste any of your time.

  52. NIce post Ramit. Sometimes you just have to do it and find out what your passion is. Kickass mate \m/

  53. I agree this is common, but it’s common among people of all ages. The science vs. film decision is too tactical – one industry vs. another. What about going up a level and deciding what kind of life you want to have? For example, you may place more value on freedom, flexibility, and creative expression. Another may put a premium on mobility, material accumulation, and stability. Everyone has a different list – what’s important is having the values identified prior to focusing on things that will change like industries. I know it’s a sucky answer, but you’ll be fine as long as you’re consistent with your view of the world. Tactically, I’d pursue the parts of any discipline I like and work on blending everything together.

  54. Just stumbled across this gem and thought I’d share – Lifeswap is a startup that brings together people of all walks of life and enables them to shadow people in other industries to get a feel for it (so a more formalised way of going about reaching out to people and learning more about various career paths). http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680811/tired-of-your-career-consider-a-lifeswap

  55. One little resource that might be useful to folks considering more education is Coursera – they make university courses available to anyone for free and have a wide range of topics. They’ve got 24 Physical and Earth Science courses from really notable universities available. It can be a great way to test if an interest is string enough to commit four years to!

  56. I’ve been stuck between two paths – more like 12. There’s so much I want to accomplish in my life.

    I ended up gravitating to what was most interesting, paid and provided the most flexibility. Most of the time it’s freelancing “under the table,” other times it’s mystery shopping. Lately it’s exploring different topics of interest as a Kindle Publisher.

    I learned the most important thing to do – at least right now with so much “economic uncertainty” – is create a residual platform that covers my expenses to secure myself while I dabble with different things until I strike the right chord.

  57. I too am stuck between two paths. I went to film school as well, I don’t want to go back to school for something different but I’m stuck between two jobs. One, I get to be creative, a director and possible camera person. The company is small and not well known but they have two good local clients. The other position I would be the lowest on the totem pole. A production assistant but for network tv. I have nothing against PAing, I’ve done it a millions times but my goal in life is to be a director of photography. I too am afraid that doors will close forever and I’m scared I’ll choose the wrong thing.

  58. [...] I know it’s tough to just pick a damn field and stick with it.  However, it’s a necessity.  The more time you waste trying to figure your life out,  the less time you have to break into an industry and cultivate skills that will pay well.  If you’re confused what industry to jump into, I’d highly recommend this resource: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/ask-ramit-im-stuck-how-do-i-pick-between-two-passions/ [...]

  59. I always want to start my own business, but that needs big finance. So, I am doing a job. This job is not my dream job or no job will be my dream job except I start my own business. Another thing is, my country people don’t believe that money can be earned through internet or from home. So, they rationally give ideas like Ramit’s family friend. That is totally irritating and disgusting too. But I also feel that, people love secure life and that’s why they choose to do job in an organization to be an expert. But, most of the people can’t start what they want/desire after becoming expert or having good experience in particular field because of useless brain and too much nervousness.

  60. I thought this post was really insightful, as were the comments. I think a lot of us feel pressure to decide between futures… I had to decide whether to major in art (my passion) or something more computer-y (I’m decently talented at coding and programming), but I was fortunate to end up with the technical job despite the art degree. Lucky!

    By the way, I didn’t find the “white people, look it up” comment offensive… it was pretty funny. Chill people.

    I’m glad I found this blog. I’ll need to keep reading when I’m not at work….

  61. I’m bouncing a lot between multiple “passions”. However, I’m never stuck. Usually I will go for what I’m most inspired or what seems to work the best (for example what gives me the best projects or the most money).
    Of course, that’s easier when you’re self-employed.