Advice Learned Along The Way
Doing More of What You Love

Cheatsheet: Doing More of What You Love, Saying No to What You Don't

1. Self-Awareness: Identify What You Truly Enjoy

Identifying your true interests and passions isn't as straightforward as it sounds. It requires self-reflection and the courage to differentiate between what you enjoy and what you're simply good at because of years of experience.

Do: Take regular "strategic pauses" in your busy schedule to reflect on what you really love doing in your work and personal life.

Don't: Confuse proficiency with passion. You might be good at something because you've done it for a long time, but it may not be what you enjoy.

Anecdote: I remember an experienced project manager who was exceptionally skilled at his job. Over the years, he realized that his true passion lay in data science. He took the brave step of transitioning roles and, after a period of intense learning, he found his job satisfaction significantly increased.

2. Aligning Your Career: Merge Interests With Work

With your stature and experience, there are opportunities to tailor your role according to your interests.

Do: Take control of your career path. Use your experience and industry standing to create a role that matches your interests.

Don't: Settle for work that doesn't excite you or align with your goals.

Example: A seasoned software architect, after several years in the field, found that he had a deep interest in cybersecurity. Instead of shifting careers entirely, he leveraged his extensive software design experience and navigated his way into the niche field of secure software architecture.

3. Mastering the Art of Delegation

Your time is precious, so it's essential to focus on tasks that align with your interests and delegate the rest.

Do: Build a strong team with diverse skills. Delegate tasks that you don't enjoy or that others could handle more efficiently.

Don't: Try to do everything yourself. It's neither efficient nor practical.

Example: In my own experience as a tech lead, I realized early on that I didn't enjoy managing the fine details of project timelines. I hired a project coordinator to handle these tasks, allowing me to focus on strategic decisions and problem-solving.

4. Saying "No": Set Clear Boundaries

In your career, you've undoubtedly learned that you can't please everyone. Saying "no" is an important skill.

Do: Be clear about your interests and capacity. Don't commit to tasks that don't align with your goals.

Don't: Allow yourself to be burdened with commitments that you're not interested in.

Example: One of the best team leads I knew was not afraid to say no to projects that didn't align with his team's objectives. This clarity not only ensured his team was always focused and efficient but also gained him respect from his peers and superiors.

5. Balanced Life: Pursue Personal Interests

Your personal life and hobbies provide a balance to your professional interests.

Do: Prioritize your personal time. Find hobbies or activities that provide a counterbalance to your work.

Don't: Allow work to consume all your time and energy.

Anecdote: A colleague, who was a highly accomplished tech lead, was also an avid rock climber. This hobby not only helped him stay physically fit but also offered mental challenges different from those he faced at work. This balance significantly improved his overall life satisfaction.

Understanding and doing more of what you love is about control. You have the authority and ability to shape your work and personal life. This isn't a journey of overnight changes, but of thoughtful decisions that move you closer to a life dominated by the things you truly enjoy.