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Is Starting From Zero A Good Idea?

I have had many conversations with students over the years, and many have often told me that they wished to diverge from something that they are good at, and pursue something they are interested in. This meant something along the lines of choosing to pursue a humanities subject instead of the sciences despite scoring better for the latter. I think that’s a decent plan to make because it is truly important to be interested in something.

However, there are certain scenarios where this shouldn’t be the case. If the new subject of choice is one that is completely new, which means that you are starting from the ground up with no prior knowledge, then it would be wise to avoid that at all costs. Pursuing something new is always interesting, but that should not work at a cost to your other endeavours. It is even worse if you forgo greater and more visible opportunities that will definitely reap you rewards. It would be wiser to move on to what you are good at, strip it down to its core and branch out from there.

Think about it this way. You enjoy doing certain activities as part of your hobby, say, basketball. You are relatively good at it and have worn several medals to attest to your calibre. You think to yourself that perhaps you should become a basketball coach since you are good at it. However, you fail to think about several things. Playing basketball well does not necessarily correlate to being an excellent coach. Moreover, there are other factors that you simply need to consider before you invest yourself fully. These things can mean the market saturation, the running costs and initial outlay etc. I think what is most important, especially as a factor is how else can you differentiate yourself? This is an important question that everyone needs to ask themselves before they move into a different industry or career trajectory from the ground up.

Drawing back to my point of utilising the skillsets you have already attained, it may seem ridiculous because you might not be enjoying your job, but what truly is the real problem? I have had conversations with several individuals high up in their careers and they feel that they hate it, despite the high salary, which I agree. Salaries may keep a person at their job, but it cannot make them stay. Despite that, I often found that it is more than just them being tired of their discipline, but in actual truth, there are underlying problems that needed to be excavated. One particular example was quite poignant. This individual was an incredible engineer and was good at his job. He achieved stellar results at work and was paid handsomely — but he wanted to quit. He said he just didn’t like engineering anymore, but I disagree. I think he just didn’t like this SPECIFIC aspect of engineering. I suggested that perhaps he could shift into a different avenue of engineering, and take the best parts of it with him. He took this advice and moved into a different firm that enabled him to take the best parts of being an engineer — being a problem solver.

I know the above sounds a bit of a stretch, but I urge you to understand that when you strip an activity down to its core, you find the various traits that actually define it. Disciplines such as economics when derived further can be well-received by individuals who like problem-solving.

People need to know that to progress further, they need to know what they want. Stripping something down to its core is how you take the first step.


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