Why Give a Damn:

You’ll have 10-15 shots at doing something new throughout your career. Read this post to figure out how to make the most of them.

The author of this post, Pascal Finette, is Director, Office of the Chair at Mozilla. His focus is on expanding the scope of Mozilla into new constituencies and supporting Mozilla’s Chairperson with the ongoing work of modernizing Mozilla project governance structures, raising Mozilla’s visibility globally, and generally governing the Mozilla project.

When it comes to our work, the jobs we do, the careers we choose, we often defer to a model of delayed gratification – resisting the temptation for an immediate reward and waiting for a later reward. In general this behavior has lots of positive effects as it combats its ugly sibling, the “hyperbolic discounting”: In most situations humans show an innate preference for the short-term, discounting future rewards to a point where we highly prefer the quick jolt of satisfaction over long-term gain.

And yet – there is a strange artifact which comes with delayed gratification when it’s applied to our careers: We get risk-averse. We make choices and choose careers which promise a high(er) future payoff at the cost of trying things out, experimenting, and doing what we like to do most in the moment.

Let me offer you a different view of the world:

When you start out your career you have about 40-45 years in the workforce ahead of you (assuming you start at about 20 years young and retire by the age of 65). Throughout my career I’ve probably averaged three to five years on a single job – after that I got bored and needed to do something else. This means that, throughout my career, I’ll have a good ten to fifteen shots at doing something new.

Ten to fifteen opportunities!

Now – how much would it matter if one, two, three or even five of these shots turn out to be the wrong thing? Not much at all.

Burning Question:

With that in mind – what do you want to do next?

Pascal Finette

Author Pascal Finette

Pascal is the Managing Director of Singularity University's Startup Lab. He is also an entrepreneur, coach, and speaker who has worked in Internet powerhouses, such as eBay, Mozilla, and Google, and Venture Capital—starting both a VC firm and accelerator program.

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