Signs of extreme careerism

I came across this article that introduced me to the concept of extreme careerism. The thing about extreme careerism is that we may suffer from it but, we may not be aware of it yet. Hence, it’s important to be mindful of it even to recognize the symptoms. The below excerpt from the article explains this concept well.

Marketing and trying to manage other people’s impression of one’s work becomes much more important than the work itself once few people can tell the difference between work that is good enough and work that is better. It happens when people begin to tell you how to manage your appearance rather than your work, e.g. what to wear, what to say, who to talk to, and where to be seen.




The problem with goal-setting

It’s a new year, and I am sure many of us would have already made our goals and resolutions for the coming year. While we assume goal-setting is right, it has its downsides too.

Whatever goals you arrive at, they are all in some way within the limitations of what you already know, or maybe a little exaggerated versions thereof. Is it not tragic to spend a whole year trying to achieve what you already know? My intention is things that you do not know should happen to you. Things that you have never imagined should enter your life. Only then will your life be truly enriched. What is the point of only doing things that you already know?

There was a time when you could be happy with one dollar. Now for the same happiness, you need a million dollars. That’s called inflation. That’s not enhancement of life. All that you do with life is create inflation. Inflation is neither good for the economy nor for your life. Now you are consciously causing inflation in your life – that is not an intelligent way to go about it. By setting time-bound goals, you may achieve a few things, but it will be of no consequence to the life that you are.

This is no different from how the caveman was, how hunters and gatherers were – “gather as much as you can.” On a material level, it looks different, but fundamentally, it is the same rudimentary thought of accumulating things. Anything that you gather, whether it is your knowledge, your wealth, your relationships, or whatever else, is only of value for the current transactions. If you keep it active, it will facilitate a few things for you. It has social consequence, but it has no life consequence. Instead of setting goals, it is best you find ways to nourish this life that you are. If you are nourishing this life, you only have to measure the growth.

Whatever goals we may set, on some level they are within the limitations of or exaggerated versions of what we already know. To get from where we are to where our goals are, we create tension, and it merely causes an inflation of existing things. The unwanted increase of current things can limit us from experiencing new things in life.

To simply live here goal-less is what a spiritual process is about. That does not mean being lethargic and lax. A spiritual process means to live in intense involvement with what is there right now but with no goal. If you have the courage to sit here in such a way – “Wherever the hell it goes tomorrow is fine with me, but right now I will do my best in whatever I am doing,” you will naturally be spiritual.

Life works best when we throw ourselves into doing things with absolute involvement without bothering what we gain out of it. Goal-setting ruins this element of life as it merely shows the means to an end. We must consider things as an end in itself by being more process-oriented and less goal-oriented.

Instead of setting goals for the whole year, just set this one thing: By the end of the day, you must be a little more joyful, a little more enhanced, a little better. This will not work as a goal – it is better to look at it in retrospect. This is not about you being joyful or peaceful. This is about you being conscious of as many aspects of your life as possible. You will do your best about whatever you are conscious of. Most of the nonsense happens because you are unconscious about so many things.

The real key to effective goal setting lies in developing a vision of how we want our lives to be.  If we would tell ourselves, “My only goal is to live a happier, healthier, more joyful and more loving life” – and actually mean it – we’d find that realizing this goal is as simple as making it the defining vision that guides our lives.  We would no longer need to concern ourselves with incremental, New Year’s Resolution style goals that don’t address our true character.  Instead, we would see our lives naturally moving towards the direction of our visions.

If you’re currently struggling to build your life around the tiny, fractious goals you believe will make you a better person in some way, just stop.  Stop worrying about whether or not the future you want is attainable based on where you are today and instead, set a clear vision for what you’d like your life to be.

That said, here’s another perspective on goal-setting.

Having goals is a pain in the neck.

If you don’t have a goal (a corporate goal, a market share goal, a personal career goal, an athletic goal…) then you can just do your best. You can take what comes. You can reprioritize on a regular basis. If you don’t have a goal, you never have to worry about missing it. If you don’t have a goal you don’t need nearly as many excuses, either.

Not having a goal lets you make a ruckus, or have more fun, or spend time doing what matters right now, which is, after all, the moment in which you are living.

The thing about goals is that living without them is a lot more fun, in the short run.

It seems to me, though, that the people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact… those people have goals.

Perception supercedes expression

I came across an interesting article that talked about a yogi’s perspective on marketing. Our education system and the internet has made today’s world the age of expression and not perception. We are enhancing our activities without is trying to improve our capabilities. As a result, we live in a world where confidence rules over clarity.  Our adverts are an example of this.

We have been taught to be too goal-oriented, and consequently, we consider everything as a means to an end and not an end in itself. Goals must be a side effect of the process and not vice-versa. If we become too goal-oriented, our goals are decided by other’s capabilities. Keeping up with the Joneses becomes the norm, hence. We will never think of the other possibilities we could have done. Instead, we merely follow what our neighbors do. Since marketing focuses on people’s wants and not the needs, we had to do ‘marketing.’

Focus is a consequence of involvement

When we are asked to focus on something, we consider focus as an act in itself. That’s why we find it so hard to concentrate on something for a long time. Our social media and smartphone indulgence aren’t helping us either.

But, here is a better strategy to practice concentrationgetting involved. When we are not involved and passively engaged in something we find it hard to concentrate for a long time. However, involvement can make this much easier.

Just like how our actions are a consequence of expression of ourselves and our joy, the focus is a consequence of our involvement.

Making our gut smarter

More often than not we keep hearing that “trust your instincts.” While that works sometimes, what is important here is to make our instincts or guts smarter. Then, it makes sense to trust our instincts. So, how can we do this?

The more we practice something, the better we become at doing that thing. Similarly, we need to practice listening to our instincts often enough, so it gets smarter over time. Here are some ways to making our guts brighter:

  1. Practicing in private making a judgment call on something. Blogs are a great way to do this. They are also, free.
  2. Volunteering for a non-profit is another excellent way to do practice making judgments. It’s extremely low risk.
  3. Finding out a peer group to sharing and talking through your instincts so that they are no longer your instincts.

How we do anything is how we do everything: On working right

More often than not, we are obsessed with finding the right line of work and we forget the most important part, which is working right. When we hate our jobs, we try to switch to a different job or even a different career path but, we do not tend to think of the possibility of us working in the right manner irrespective of the job we have. 
In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport writes a story about a Rabbi who wakes up early every single day to master Judaism. With rigorous self-discipline over the years, the Rabbi managed to gain a lot of knowledge on Judaism. A layman would ask what is the use of this knowledge. However, it’s not the knowledge per se that’s important it’s the effort that went in order to acquire that much knowledge that matters and the years of persisting a processWhy? Because, how we do anything is how we do everything
What we do doesn’t matter but, why we do matters. What we do is simply a reflection of the times we live in (for example, if Vincent Van Gogh was born today, he wouldn’t have become an impressionist painter) but, why we do something goes deeper into our own values and belief systems. It’s a direct reflection of who we are. We just happen to do the ‘whats’ because our ‘whys’ need an expression.
In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck emphasizes the very same idea by bringing in the theory of growth mindset where effort is given more importance than talent and ability. Practice and hard work are the key components of a growth mindset. 
The magic happens when we obsess about the process and not the outcome (a trait of the craftsman mindset). That’s when the transferable skills are formed. Once we form the transferable skills we can apply them in any domain we want to excel. Success would then be a byproduct. We keep track of all the wrong, superficial things. We mistake the byproduct for the actual effect and that’s why there are only a few successful people in this world.
Similarly, Tim Ferris in one of his keynote talks about the DSS strategy for learning anything. This strategy is universal and it validates the point of how we do anything is how we do everything. 
Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble. (Quid’s recte factum quamvis humile praeclarum.) —Sir Henry Royce

Sometimes, on the road to where we are going or where we want to be, we have to do things that we’d rather not do. Often when we are just starting out, our first jobs “introduce us to the broom,” as Andrew Carnegie famously put it. There’s nothing shameful about sweeping. It’s just another opportunity to excel—and to learn.

But we are always so busy thinking about the future, we don’t take enough pride in the tasks we are given right now. Too often we phone it in, cash our check, and dream of some higher station in life. Or we think, This is just a job, it isn’t who I am, it doesn’t matter.

This is foolishness.

Everything we do matters—whether it’s making smoothies to save up money or studying for the bar—even after we’ve already achieved the success we sought. Everything is a chance to do and be our best. Only self-absorbed assholes think they are too good for whatever their current station requires.

Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing and wherever we are going, we owe it to ourselves, to our art, to the world to do it well. That’s our primary duty. And our obligation. When action is our priority, vanity falls away.


An artist is given many different canvases and commissions in their lifetime, and what matters is that they treat each one as a priority. Whether it’s the most glamorous or highest paying is irrelevant. Each project matters, and the only degrading part is giving less than one is capable of giving.
We will be and do many things in our lives. Some are prestigious, some are onerous, none are beneath us. To whatever we face, our job is to respond with:
  • hard work
  • honesty
  • helping others as best we can

We should never have to ask ourselves, But what am I supposed to do now? Because we know the answer: our job.


Duty is beautiful, and inspiring and empowering. Because all we need to do is those three little duties—to try hard, to be honest, and to help others and ourselves. That’s all that’s been asked of us. No more and no less. Sure, the goal is important. But never forget that each individual instance matters, too—each is a snapshot of the whole. The whole isn’t certain, only the instances.
How you do anything is how you can do everything. We can always act right.
P.S: I did a syntopical reading/listening of the following people’s body of work (books, interviews, talks). The idea of why working right always triumphs finding the right work is a common theme. 
1. Cal Newport
2. Ryan Holiday
3. Carol S. Dweck
4. Simon Sinek
5. Tim Ferris
6. Seth Godin
7. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

Our fascination with numbers and scale

If something is measurable, we tend to make it go either up or down. If it is a finite resource like time, money, and energy we would want to spend less of it while if it is website traffic, the number of likes on our social media page, and money, we would want more of it. Whatever the scenario is, if it is quantifiable it makes things easier. 
In this blog post, let us discuss scale – making the numbers go up. 

Nothing grows to infinity. Certainly no project or business or idea.

And saying, “as many as possible,” implies a series of trade-offs that you’re probably not actually interested in making.

One of the most important decisions we make is almost always made without thought, without discussion:

“How big do you want this to be?”

It’s a question that always gets in the way of,

“How good do you want this to be?”

There’s always a pressure to be scalable, to be efficient, and to create something that can be easily replicated. However, it comes with a price

To get bigger, the small business that’s based on the insight, energy and passion of a few people might have to dumb down. It has to standardize, itemize and rationalize, so that it can hire people who care a little less, know a little less and work a little less, because, after all, they just work here.

What if getting bigger isn’t the point? What if you merely got better?

Which means that in order to get bigger, the small businessperson sacrifices the very thing that brought in business in the first place.

Acknowledge your special sauce and hire people only when they help you do what you do best and uniquely. Don’t worry about replicating yourself, focus instead on leveraging yourself.

Scaling dehumanizes our efforts and ceases to make the difference that we seek to make in the world. Personalization makes things more human and helps form the trust. And, scaling is a hindrance to that.

“The biggest mistake most marketers make is “Not being human.” The problem is this: we’ve scaled the number of contacts, of patients, of Christmas card recipients, of Twitter followers, of email correspondents, of investors, of backers, of Kickstarter supporters, of readers, of correspondents, of co-workers, of… we’ve scaled it all. 

And the one thing we can’t do is scale our ability to take time.

Companies worth billions in transportation without owning a single vehicle, and hospitality juggernauts that own no real estate. These companies thrive because they streamline one-to-one connections between customer and supplier.

Treat different people differently. You decided to get bigger, but you won’t be able to treat everyone the way you used to. That was your decision, and it’s one of the costs of bigger.

Treating different people differently is the only way you’ve got to be able to take your time with the few, because, alas, you can no longer take your time with everyone. And if you can’t live with that, get smaller!”

In a world of zero marginal cost, being trusted is the single most urgent way to build a business. You don’t get trusted if you’re constantly measuring and tweaking and manipulating so that someone will buy from you. most of the time when organizations start to measure stuff, they then seek to industrialize it, to poke it into a piece of software, to hire ever cheaper people to do it.

“I want Barnes and Noble to reorganize the store based on my needs for my visit – that’s what Amazon does.”– Seth Godin

The question we must ask is “If the number is hidden from the universe, would we still want to make it go up?”