I have a commitment problem... with my career

Embracing change can be scary. Reflecting to reset is healthy. Change is normal as your career evolves. Having a commitment problem with your career can be a good thing.

I have a commitment problem... with my career

This might sound a bit controversial.

Having commitment issues with your career can be a good thing. 

When I was a kid, I dreaded the question

What do you want to be when you grow up? 

My answers changed all the time since I never felt any of them truly resonated with me. Adults always seemed to judge me, especially the elder Asian immigrants who expected doctor, pharmacist or lawyer.

Fast forward to adulthood, I realized that I didn't want to be one thing for the rest of my life. I wanted to do many things and experience all facets of them. We have grown up with this notion that we had to determine our life's purpose in terms of work, and there is only one calling out there for everyone. Having a calling can be a source of joy, but searching for the "one" can leave people feeling lost and confused.

It does sound strange. Commitment issues are usually considered negative. But when it comes to your career, they could actually lead to constant growth and learning.

In the last fifteen years, I have switched industries or roles at least 10 times. It wasn't unusual for me to switch roles within the same company multiple times. For example, during my five-year tenure at Google, I switched roles 4 times across 3 products.

I was in the perpetual state of being the "new person." I was putting myself out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. While it can be scary, it can be a huge opportunity to learn and grow. You're continuously adapting, absorbing new skills and gaining different perspectives.

The most exciting part - with each new role and new industry, I was opening more doors. There were doors that I didn't even know existed. The dreaded "job hopper" became the "innovator" or "thought leader." I started to see opportunities where no one else has.

I did not start off as the brave trailblazer taking my own career into my own hands. It has taken me many instances of life changes - some by choice and others not so much - to be comfortable with the anxiety, insecurity and uncertainty. Change is scary. I had a lot of questions. Am I good enough? Can I create meaningful relationships with my colleagues or community? Is this the right environment for me?

Nothing is permanent.

Change is scary, but I tried to remind myself that impermanence is the nature of things. As I gained more experience in my life and career, my interests and needs evolved just like everything else. What seemed like the perfect job opportunity out of college didn't necessarily fit five years later and definitely not now. I had to have the courage to pivot into new opportunities.

Consistency is not the same as commitment. 

While commitment relates to the degree of dedication to a specific goal or objective, consistency is about the regularity with which you perform certain actions to achieve those objectives. In my experience, being consistent with acquiring and improving skills while building and nurturing relationships provide me more leverage no matter what company or roles I'm in. This is especially true when you're in a new, unfamiliar situation. Being consistent shows others that you will show up. Despite all the twists and turns, those consistent actions have compounded over time opening up new opportunities, mentors and friends.

Looking back, I was grateful for the highs and lows. Change kept life interesting. Even when it felt risky, I adapted. Not only have I expanded my skills, but I also became more resilient.

So to all of you out there worried about having commitment issues with your career - don't be! Change is just a natural part of the journey, neither good nor bad, just a reflection of impermanence. Wherever each new adventure takes you, embrace it. Let go of your attachments and break free of your limiting beliefs. That's how I have found continued success, and I hope it will for you.

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