Chipping Away – My Best Advice to People in their Early Career


I don’t mean “keep at it, keep trying, don’t give up, don’t get discouraged”. In fact you may well need to do some giving up….

We go through a lot of priming in life – our minds are constantly bombarded with messages, and we all interpret these either helpfully or unhelpfully for our own development. You’d make a perfect doctor. You should be an engineer! You really need to do a trade.

Remember what everyone else was telling you when you were at school. How much of that has influenced where you are today? A lot?

For many of us, the messages we get throughout our adolescence and even early adulthood markedly shapes where we find ourselves in our early career mode.

I was told by my career counsellor at school, that there was a new law degree at a university in Sydney that “you’d be perfect for”. That was pretty much all the decision-making that went into it. It’s not like I didn’t give it any thought – I was just a relieved a decision had been made – any decision! – and I could now get on thinking about what my life would actually be like going through the degree itself, and what might lay beyond in the working world.

The problem is that people don’t need to be told what to do and where to go and how to do it. Assuming you can do that is dangerous in the extreme – the best any of us can do for someone else is providing options so that the answer can be uncovered at that person’s own pace and is uniquely and absolutely owned by them.

If the answer isn’t obvious, sit with that discomfort. The answer will come – because there is a purpose somewhere for all of us.

But we also carry around enormous amounts of baggage and often it’s making us deeply unhappy.

So my best advice to people in their early career – chip away all of those messages and beliefs that are someone else’s and focus on what is the best for you. What is it inside of you that will be your best contribution to the world?

It may not be what your father wants for you. It might not be what your career counsellor thinks. Be brave. It’s your life and it’s your decision. Wouldn’t we all be better off if we took the time to actually do it? If we do this, we can all find our place in the world that fits us well.