Only Dead Fish Always Go with the flow

Only Dead Fish Always Go with the flow

As a young professional fresh out of college, I often receive large bits of unsolicited advice. A consistent piece of advice that often comes my way is, “this is the time to try different work environments and industries to see what you like”. 

While it’s wonderful to explore and experiment,  does this mean we should just be trying out random things whilst clinging to the desperate hope that something will click? Should we fling ourselves into the abyss of the professional world and hope to God that we find the perfect job/boss/co-workers? 

No!

We have an obligation to ourselves. We must put in a bit more conscious and intentional effort into this whole process. Let’s put more thought into why we do things. Let’s identify our own ‘north star’ to guide us rather than always ‘going with the flow’. 

Interestingly, most migratory fish actually flow against the current. They swim up against some of the most treacherous waters to reproduce and thereby fulfill their life’s purpose. Guiding them on this journey is a homing mechanism; an inbuilt compass of sorts. This compass helps them make life decisions – which direction to swim in? Which course to take? Which paths to avoid? 

The idea of an internal compass has long intrigued me. How amazing would be to have my very own personal homing mechanism. A core set of values to guide me in my decision making. Here’s why values are important now, more than ever…

Today’s youth are burdened by the tyranny of choice. We are spoilt for options. Too many of us are just floating into whatever opportunity comes our way with no clarity about the values we stand for. We are losing track of why we get into things. The gig economy has us constantly looking for our next move, job, client, and opportunity. We are always plotting our next undertaking and rarely stopping to introspect and ask why. College applications are getting more and more competitive and we are obsessively crafting the ‘ideal resume’. This meaningless opportunity ingestion eventually leads to a sense of disillusionment. This disillusionment can come in many forms; a mid-life crisis, a deep-seated loss of purpose or your everyday variety of crippling existential crisis. 

How can we sift through this deluge of choice? 

How can we only pursue opportunities that are truly rewarding? 

How can we choose the RIGHT opportunities for ourselves? 

Your values can guide you through this confusion. They will show you the way when your mind is in mayhem about what you really want. 

In my personal experience, the most rewarding roles in my life have some kind of underlying social impact. This social impact has now become my compass. Before taking on a new job or project, I stop to ask myself – is this going to have a social impact? The moment I stopped doing things just for the sake of it, and started doing things because they matched my values, I felt happier! I started putting in 110% effortlessly. 

This is not to say that I don’t still feel lost and confused. Navigating my professional life as a 21-year-old in today’s economy is a never-ending process of reinvention and re-learning. My values are also constantly being re-invented to keep up. 

I urge you to start discovering yourself. What values drive you? How are you using your values to intentionally choose your opportunities? Discover your compass. Dig deep and uncover your personal principles because only dead fish ‘go with the flow.’

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