The thought that we should, if we’re honest with ourselves,
probably try to change our career
is one of the most anxiety inducing of all realizations.
We’re going to have to face for possibly a very long time
a big drop in salary, we might have to move back home,
it will be hard to sound impressive at parties about what we’re doing,
and we’ll be beginning again close to zero.
Tellingly, the agony about this can be most potent when we’re young.
Imagine someone who’s 20;
they’ve been planning a career in chemical engineering
and they’re well on the way to gaining the right qualifications.
They selected particular subjects at school,
took the right courses at university,
and did some relevant work experience.
They’ve already made what feels like an enormous investment.
But now, they start to think very seriously of switching course,
perhaps towards marine biology or anthropology.
It might mean another two unforeseen years of studying.
At 20, two years feels like a very long time indeed:
10% of the whole of one’s life so far.
And, psychologically, it’s even bigger than that.
20岁时 你的成人意识也许才不过四年 从16岁算起
At 20, you’ve maybe only felt you were you since you were about 16;
在那之前 你处于某种 童年和青少年的茫然感中 并不真正明白 自己的人生是怎么回事
before that, you were in a kind of daze of childhood and adolescence, and didn’t have any real idea of what you’re life might be about.
So two years feels like half of your existence.
It’s a vast commitment.
What’s so hard to grasp, and yet essential, is how things will look in the future.
Age, say, 56.
From there, two years will have a very different meaning.
It’ll only be one 20th or 5% of the forty years
between being 16 and being at the climax of middle age.
Over time, the length of further study grows relatively small
against the backdrop of a whole working life
while the consequences of not having undertaken it grow ever larger.
We call this paradox the “job investment trap,”
and it explains why many people, especially young people,
mistakenly turn away from retraining.
The present looms too large
而长长的未来 事实上 会构成我们生命更大部分的未来
and the long long future, which will in fact constitute by far the greater part of our lives
doesn’t carry the weight it really should.
To counter this tendency, we should draw up
timelines to force ourselves to see that the period
from 16 to 24 is truly quite short in comparison
with what lies between 24 and 65.
We need to weight up investments now, not against our most recent experiences,
but in the light of a more accurate picture of an entire life.
We need to believe in something that is so hard to really trust in:
the reality of our own future decades of life.
And then, we need to dare to switch track.