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Here’s how to tell whether a big career change is smart or stupid, according to a former VC who quit to play professional squash

Mike Lewis: When I was out of university, I got a job at a global private equity and venture capital firm. I was making more money than I thought I ever would in my career when I was growing up.

The only thing was, I really wanted to go play professional squash.

I think the first step is trying to find something you’re at least curious about. There’s a lot of things on social media and on Instagram and elsewhere around chasing your passion – well, start with understanding what makes you curious.

What are you interested in?

And if you can find a job, even in the smallest of ways, that satisfies that curiosity, that’s a great start. And from there, you might just find your passion. And for employers, there’s so much to be learned about giving people the opportunity to be curious and interested in the work they do.

It’s all about matching who is passionate or interested or even curious about the work, with what that work demands, and what are the responsibilities and does that person fit. And when you find that fit of people who can do great work and are also interested in it, you’ve got a great relationship between the employee and employer.

When I first really considered seriously playing the professional squash tour and leaving my job, the answer in my mind was: “Well, that’s stupid.”

On my desk, I had a magazine article from a woman who left Wall Street to go become a cyclist. She ended up making the Olympic team, representing the United States in the 2012 games.

At the very bottom of the article, she was described as quoting her career being so different than one in banking. So I cold-called her. And when she got on the phone, what she told me had nothing to do with stupid ideas and chasing your dreams overnight, it was all about taking 10,000 unsexy steps towards doing what you love.

At that point, I realised there was a difference between crazy and stupid. Over the last several years I collected thousands of stories and conversations with strangers and friends-of-friends from around the world.

10,000 unsexy steps.

What I learned is that crazy really means to plan and to be thoughtful in how you go about those 10,000 unsexy steps.

No-one has described their jump being stupid. All of them have described it being crazy, and that’s because they followed their own 10,000 unsexy steps.

It starts with listening to the little voice. That voice might be to say, “apply for an internal promotion at work”, or “switch offices for your company without actually leaving.”

It could be as simple as picking up a new hobby on the weekends. Learn a language. Volunteer more. It could also be, go play professional squash. All of those things are jumps.

But you don’t necessarily have to hate your life or hate your job to want to jump. It should be that you’re jumping towards something rather than from something.

Source: Business Insider

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