Just because it's popular, doesn't mean it's right.

In general. Or specifically for you.

For example, a major cult status popular movement right now is Follow Your Passion. Related - Follow Your Heart. Follow Your Dreams. It is true that figuring out your career calling involves the heart. But if you want to be successful at following your heart into a sustainable living, then you'll agree that you can't just check your brains in at the door. Even while listening to our hearts, we must think in terms of a logical sequence of premises and appropriately derived conclusions.

I love TED Talks. They are unparalleled sources of wisdom and inspiration. But also check out this (very funny!) parody of TED concepts taken to the extreme. So what I am are saying is.. by all means be creative, be inspired, and imagine possibilities. But DON’T imagine a world that isn’t. DON’T defy the impossible. 

Your reality, your specific circumstances, and you constraints (financial, family etc) matter. Don't let these things deter you from pursuing your dreams but take them into account when you are making your plans.

Think carefully for yourself

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain

I took a logic class in college way back when I was 19, and if there is one thing I remember from that class (other than lots of trees and branches) is argumentum ad populum (Latin for “appeal to the people”). Known by many names – fallacious argument, argument by consensus, bandwagon fallacy – it basically says something is true because many or most people believe it. “If many believe X, it is X.

Remember when we were kids and we protested “but all the other kids are doing it.. “ and mom or dad said “I don’t care if all the other kids are doing it, you are not.” They were right. At least the logical argument was right.  As human beings we have a tendency to accept absurd information as long as it is repeated by enough people. If an unfounded premise is mentioned and repeated by many individuals, the premise will be accepted as the truth soon enough.

So, when it comes to finding work you love, think carefully for yourself. Even if 99% of your peers are following an appealing populist path that doesn’t mean you should follow suit. You don’t have to take up backyard beekeeping just because all your hipster friends are. Neither do you have to take up golf because the country club set is. These things may end up being suitable, but you have to make that decision by carefully discerning whether the specific choice or action is meaningful t you. 

Aim for consistency and integrity

A related addendum: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.  I used to do a lot of things just because I could – not really putting effort into an assignment, quitting when things didn’t suit me, world travel as an escape, and other questionable behavior.  I did it because I could, and because I knew that no one would call me out on it.

The problem is that when you are inconsistent, when you keep changing your passions, dreams, and plans, people get confused. Potential employers, future business partners, even friends and family – will not know who you are. You are creating noise in the marketplace about you, and what you offer. Then the real authentic opportunities that are meant for you cannot find their way to you.

By all means try different types of work. But don't be flaky. People need to know a) who you are; and b) that they can count on you as they understand you to be.

Personal capital is a precious thing - don’t waste it.

Ask someone to help you put together a strategy and a plan, and be clear about what you want to accomplish. Also be clear with others. Explain things. Be coherent. Speak sense.  When faced with a choice – one that is popular and easily validated by peers versus one that is harder and on the road less traveled, where possible go for the latter.  Awesome things can happen on that road less traveled.