I've been very priveleged to have a number of great mentors in my life. One of them is Len Bass.
We caught up over lunch today, and we were talking about 'building a career'. As usual, Len had some great wisdom to share with me. He said:
"You basically have a number of options in building a career:
1. you work out what you ultimately want to do, and you plan a course of action in order to achieve it
2. at any point in time, you look at your options, and decide which one is most fun, and just go and do that.
3. you can always go back to do more studies, and reinvent yourself completely.
4. you make your choices bearing in mind that there are others looking up to you"
Through my teenage years, I was always the girlie swat in school, and knew exactly how I was going to get my PhD, and how to get my professorship, and by when.
Through my twenties, I executed on that plan flawlessly.
Now that I've made some way into my thirties, and that other things in life happened (eg. family, mortgage, wider understanding of how the world works, Microsoft), I am beginning to see that the other options are equally valid approaches to building a career, and in fact, in approaching life!
I encourage those of you that are just like me (in my younger years) to try out the other options, and see if the bigger risk you take lead you to greater returns!