We can go look at it anytime—we just have to A) remember that the house has a basement, and B) actually spend the time and energy to go down there, even though going down there might suck. Or when you want so badly to be respected, but then you remember that a career that wins the undying respect of one segment of society will always receive shrugs from other segments and even contemptuous eye rolls from other segments still. You’re a CEO not in control of their staff. Watch the brilliant color changes of a sleeping octopus. If you find this challenging, I hope you won't be too distressed about it. 1. To be clear, this isn’t to say that it’s wrong to live by the words of a wise parent or a famous philosopher or friends you respect or the convictions of a younger you. The site 80,000 hours—dedicated to helping young, high-potential people make big career choices—is an awesome resource. If you think it’s because you’re afraid of failing, unpack that. Do Animals Feel Pain? If you’re not currently working towards that career you supposedly yearn for, try to figure out why not. If your inner analysis does call for a career leap to a new dot, I hope that at some point, you’re able to make the jump. We want our perceived yearnings to be a true reflection of our authentic inner selves, and we want our beliefs about what’s possible to come close to mirroring what’s actually possible. That’s the only thing we use the list for—and since my posting schedule isn’t exactly…regular…this is the best way to stay up-to-date with WBW posts. Like when your desire to pursue your passion can’t figure out what it’s most passionate about. I like to view this journey to “good enough at the game to succeed” as a distance. I’ve thankfully never been on anything that felt like a deathbed, but it seems like there’s something about the end of life that lets people see things with clear eyes. He really really really wants to be in the in-group and he really really really doesn’t want to be in the outgroup. Do Octopuses Feel Pain? The octopus is a new one. On top of that, your fear of death sometimes emerges on the personal tentacle, all needy about you leaving your mark and achieving greatness and all that. How does it know the difference between the soft touch of a feather and a needle prick? The difference, Yaksh explained, is in our feelings. They’re either developed over time by our internal consciousness as observations and life experience pour in, or they’re implanted in us from the outside, by someone else. This is why I’m pretty convinced that at least for less traditional careers, your level of chefness is the single most important factor in determining your pace of improvement. Part 2. Hypothesis testing is intuitive in the dating world. Other people have bodies and brains very similar to ours—the argument goes—so we can safely assume that they have pains like ours, especially when they tell us about them. And this is why persistence is so important. If you simply understand what the game board really looks like and play by modern rules, you have a huge advantage. Cleverness and savvy matter too, and those qualities don’t always correlate with raw intelligence. And yeah it knows that you deposited that check on Thursday and that it’s supposed to clear tomorrow morning, but your practical tentacle also could have sworn that just last month, all the tentacles promised that they’d make some sacrifices in order to build up at least a little bank account cushion so that simply paying the rent wouldn’t have to be really fucking stressful every month. Then there’s the trash can, for the drives and fears you flat-out reject—those parts of you that fundamentally violate the person your wisest self wants to be. If dad has successfully convinced you that you care deeply about having a prestigious career, he probably has also convinced you that the part of you that, deep down, really wants to be a carpenter isn’t really you and isn’t what you really want. Your practical tentacle also can’t help but notice that your social tentacle offered to buy a round of drinks for all nine people you went to the bar with last Saturday so those people would think of you as a classy, generous person, and that your lifestyle tentacle chose to rent what sure seems like a pretty nice-ass apartment for someone now living check to check, and that the updates have gotten real quiet from your friend about that bagel delivery service he started six months ago that your moral tentacle happily invested $2,500 in to help it get off the ground, and oh also that meanwhile your personal tentacle has everyone sweating their dick off working at two comedy-writing internships simultaneously that somehow manage to bring in less money combined than you made dressing up as an Egyptian enchantress to wait tables at Jekyll & Hyde sophomore year of college. Chasing happiness is an amateur move. If you’re into Wait But Why, sign up for the Wait But Why email list and we’ll send you the new posts right when they come out. They also feel a mental desire to minimize their suffering. We didn’t choose the river. We can group map holders into three broad categories—each of which is well-represented in the river, in the pond, standing on the shore, and at every stage of adult life. But as philosophers are well aware, there's a big problem with that approach. The personal tentacle is why you don’t find very many billionaires content to spend the rest of their life sipping cocktails on the beach—it’s a highly needy tentacle. What kind of pain do you like? 5) Finally, this isn’t a post about which careers are better or worse than others or which career values are more or less meaningful—there are lots of social scientists and self-help authors out there with good data on that, and I’m not one of them. Being a chef takes a tremendous amount of time and energy—which makes sense, because you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, you’re trying to invent it for the first time. They speak a language, but it does not translate easily into English, and it is unclear whether they have any word that corresponds to "pain". Even if things do go well, you’ll be quickly reminded of the fact that the Yearning Octopus is a generally unhappy creature. For most of us, a career (including ancillary career time, like time spent commuting and thinking about your work) will eat up somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 hours. More than 100 people (36%) said that they have enjoyed pain during anal sex. Share on Reddit. Those moments are the perfect golf shots of a mediocre golfer’s outing—they’re awesome, and you should enjoy the shit out of them—but they’re not the new normal, and they never will be. Often on this blog, I’ve written about how irrational our fears can be and how badly they can hold us back. If you’re decently smart and work hard, you’ll end up in a successful, stable situation. And that path becomes our life’s story. Or maybe two or three. The Personal Yearnings tentacle is probably the hardest one to generalize here—it’s pretty particular to each of us. As far as you know, you might be Michael Jordan holding his first basketball, so start playing. Then you’ll keep going. How Could We Recognize Pain in an Octopus? As you climb up the orange line, you’ll slowly but surely begin to repopulate your Yearning Octopus with your real self. When you subtract childhood (~175,000 hours) and the portion of your adult life you’ll spend sleeping, eating, exercising, and otherwise taking care of the human pet you live in, along with errands and general life upkeep (~325,000 hours), you’re left with 250,000 “meaningful adult hours.”3 So a typical career will take up somewhere between 20% and 60% of your meaningful adult time—not something to be a cook about. Was it really me?”. You can buy it here. Throughout my life, I’ve looked around at people who seem kind of like me and I’ve bought a bunch of clothes that look like what they wear. 10 Things an Octopus Can Do (That Should Terrify You) 4. To get all of this in order, we want a good system. These are perfectly reasonable assumptions—if you live in 1952. When this happens, you’ll have to figure out if that feeling is emerging from the wise parts of you or simply from your restless, deprioritized yearnings. First of all, for a while at least, you’ll probably suck at what you’re doing on your new dot. Let’s start with the Want Box. Pretending you can figure out what dot #2 or #4 or #8 should be now is laughable. It’s all about a simple formula: In our case, the more apt wording might be: Your outlook on any career quest depends on A) the pace at which you’ll be able to improve at playing that career’s “game” and B) the amount of time you’re willing to persist in chasing that star. For those of us not already wealthy through past earnings, marriage, or inheritance, a career doubles as our means of support. Dot #1 is your chance to test it out. As the researchers note in their paper, we know very little about whether cephalopods recognize pain or … Brathwaite, author of the 2010 book Do Fish Feel Pain?, has also investigated whether fish can suffer. out of stubbornness. It’s a hypothesis that you’ll be able to test and then revise based on how actually living this hierarchy feels in practice. Unpack it. Advertisement. A lot of Seth’s advice applies to career choices. Cooks arrive at conclusions by following someone else’s recipe—in the case of careers, the recipe is usually conventional wisdom. User account menu. He claims to be in constant excruciating pain, but we cannot see any evidence of it in his behavior. Your career dot map. Once you have a reasonably clear picture of your Yearning Octopus, you can start doing the real work—work that takes place another level down in your subconscious, in the basement of the basement. Then there’s your ego, who’s a similar character but even more needy. Given that plants do not have pain receptors, nerves, or a brain, they do not feel pain as we members of the animal kingdom understand it. Meanwhile, the cook’s recipe just grows more and more outdated—a problem they remain oblivious to. Go talk to the 5-year-olds that are causing the trouble. Your true Reality Box would literally include all career paths for which you think a highly improved version of yourself could, with an entire lifetime of effort, reach the minimum star you’d be comfortable defining as success. When you think of your career as a tunnel, the stakes to make the right choice seem so high that it explodes the feeling of tyranny of choice. The problem with thinking of pain as a private experience is that it leaves us helpless to identify pain in other people, much less in other species of animals. Extremely fair question. So to be a bit more efficient, let’s worry about the parts of the Reality Box that might actually end up in your Option Pool (the middle of the Venn diagram where the Want and Reality Boxes overlap). When career paths have game boards with much more going on, conventional wisdom just throws its hands up and calls it “luck.” To conventional wisdom, becoming a movie star requires some talent, but mostly, hitting a rare scratch ticket jackpot. Now it’s just math. Finally, some of us may find a loving little dog on our social tentacle who wants more than anything in the world to please its owner, and who just cannot bear the thought of disappointing them. The Lifestyle Yearnings tentacle mostly just wants Tuesday to be a good day. You’re Current-Age You—the only person, and the only version of yourself, who is actually qualified to want and not want the things you want and don’t want. As you go through this difficult prioritizing process—inevitably, at times, against the screaming protests of unhappily deprioritized yearnings—remember that you’re the only wise one in the room. Your work ethic. You may like to think a desire to do something bold is high up on your hierarchy, but if you’re not currently working on something bold, it reveals that however important boldness is to you, something else—some source of fear or inertia in you—is currently being prioritized above it. Octopuses can feel pain, just like all animals. Some of the complexities are purely scientific, but others are caused by moral or philosophical issues getting mixed up with scientific issues. You don’t have to worry about dot #4 because you can’t anyway—you’re literally not qualified to do so. You’ll come back to the big picture later—for now, you can put the macro picture aside, put your head down, and dedicate all of your energy to the present. There’s a chance you’re an unusually wise person whose examination reveals an octopus developed mostly by you and kept readily up to date. As we discussed earlier, chefs look at the world with fresh eyes and build conclusions based on what they observe and what they’ve experienced. Other things, like existing connections, existing resources, and existing skills matter, of course, but they’re not components of pace—they’re part of the location of point A. But we’re wired for a more ancient world where almost nothing ever changed, so we all reason like cooks and treat conventional wisdom as equivalent to truth. You can pull on a yearning’s face by playing the Why Game. He seems completely relaxed; he laughs and jokes; he moves without any appearance of constraint; he seems happy. In our example, the question is whether your impulse to jump missions is the result of genuine evolution or quick-quitter bias. Up to now, you’ve only been in charge of the micro decisions—”How do I succeed at my job as a student?”—and now you’re suddenly holding the keys to the macro cockpit as well, tasked with answering stressful macro questions like “Who am I?” and “What are the important things in life?” and “What are my options for paths and which one should I choose and how do I even make a path?” When we leave school for the last time, the macro guidance we’ve become so accustomed to is suddenly whisked away from us, leaving us standing there holding our respective dicks, with no idea how to do this. Of eating an octopus alive, Dr. Jennifer Mather, an expert on cephalopods and a psychology professor at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, says the following: “ [T]he octopus, which you’ve been chopping to pieces, is feeling pain every time you do it. Given everything you’ve reflected upon, does your current career plan still qualify to be there? Press question mark to learn the rest of the keyboard shortcuts. That solution just doesn't work. Or are your influences themselves actually in your brain, masquerading as inner you? They feel pain. Not only do we assess our strengths based on the wrong game boards (like in our basketball example)—even when we have the right game board in mind, we’re often bad at identifying the real strengths that that game calls for. Aired: Tuesday, October 29th 2013. Unless you’re one of those people who’s really practiced at analyzing your subconscious, it might be dark in the basement, making it hard to see your octopus. If there’s any ounce of procrastination susceptibility in us, here’s where it’ll show itself. You’ll let it whine and get good at tuning it out, knowing that it’s whining in the exact way you planned for it to be. PDF: If you want to print this post or read it offline, the PDF is probably the way to go. There are plenty of examples of failed suicides, etc. Like a starfish, an octopus can regrow lost arms. My name is Nora. An unfulfilled Personal Yearnings tentacle is often the explanation, for example, behind a very successful, very unhappy person—who may believe they got successful in the wrong field. You might even find that some of your yearnings and fears were written by you…when you were seven years old. You’ve got this Yearning Octopus in your head with five tentacles (or however many yours has), each with their own agenda, that often conflict with each other. One career may seem less appealing after reminding yourself that it will entail thousands of hours of networking or multiple decades of pre-success struggle. I’m pretty sure all of these people would benefit from a moment of career path reflection. A first-year medical student sees an experienced surgeon at work and thinks, “I can get there one day—just need to do about 20 years of hard work.” But when a young artist or entrepreneur or software engineer looks at the equivalent of the experienced surgeon in their field, they’re more likely to think, “Wow look how talented they are—I’m nowhere near that good,” and get all hopeless. 6) Your level of persistence. But we should probably embrace the fear of end-of-life regret. The hierarchy is easy to see because it’s revealed in your actions. Your ego doesn’t just want to be accepted; it wants to be admired, desired, and fawned upon—ideally, on a mass scale. Hey readers! Or a desire to be famous that your particular tribe has shamed you out of. those that proved to be authentic during interrogation—were easy parts of our true selves to find in our subconscious, lying in plain sight, right below the surface of our consciousness. Most octopus species only get an opportunity to mate at the end of their lives, and for the females, laying the eggs and guarding the eggs, it's the last thing they ever have to do. Wisdom isn’t correlated with knowledge, it’s correlated with being in touch with reality—it’s not how far to the right you are on the graph, it’s how close you are to the orange line. Future dots are the worry of a future, wiser you living in a future world. The authentic yearnings of ours that we’re in touch with—i.e. The distance starts with where you are now—point A—and ends with you reaching your definition of success, which we can draw with a star. The standard solution, implicit in most scientific discussions of pain, is that the more closely an animal resembles us, the safer we are in attributing experiences like ours to it. When you think of your career as a tunnel, it causes an identity crisis in anyone who doesn’t feel sure of who exactly they are and who they’ll want to be decades from now—which is most sane people. Pretty quickly, a yearning hierarchy will begin to reveal itself. But that’s kind of the key point. While the moral and lifestyle tentacles tend to be in direct conflict, others may sometimes find common ground—the social tentacle can get very into philanthropy if it’ll happen to win you respect and admiration from a highly regarded social group, and some people’s personal tentacle may find the meaning or self-worth it so craves in a philanthropic endeavor. All lives make a large impact on the world and on the future—but the kind of impact you end up making is largely within your control, depending on the values you live by and the places you direct your energy. What do you do? When it comes to your career possibilities, you’re dealing with two sets of beliefs: beliefs about the world and beliefs about your own potential. In a #1 scenario, you can be proud that you developed that part of you like a chef. All of the fears you so thoughtfully deprioritized in your octopus ranking will think someone is murdering them and they’ll start trying to call 911. It’s your head—you’re allowed to do with it what you want. There’s also the other common notion, that people who thrive in non-traditional careers had some “big break” at some point, like hitting a lucky scratch card jackpot—and I don’t know many people who want to risk their careers on scratch cards. It won’t be much fun. The answers to all of these questions lie somewhere on the tentacles of your Yearning Octopus. At the moment, it probably won’t be obvious what those missing yearnings of yours are exactly—because they’re on an even deeper floor of your subconscious. No matter what your hierarchy looks like, some yearnings will be left feeling very unhappy and some fears will feel like they’re being continually assaulted. Your beliefs about the world of careers and about what it takes to succeed need just as thorough an unmasking as your yearnings did—and I suspect that behind most of them, you’ll find big, fat conventional wisdom. The other half of your craving of self-esteem is a fear of feeling shame. Their pitfall is staying way too long in the wrong things. Because in many cases, it’s the ickiest set of yearnings to really go for; because the fears of this tentacle aren’t scary in an immediate way—they creep in out of the background over time; and because the personal tentacle is always at risk of getting bowled over early in your career by the powerful animal emotions of the other tentacles. That’s what hitting the star means. The last year has been pretty frustrating for me and anyone who likes Wait But Why—a lot of build-up of ideas with none of the satisfying release of those ideas on the blog (most of my last year has been spent working on another, way longer post). Same story, but suppose now that we are dealing with a humanoid-appearing robot rather than an alien. It’s time to bring back your Career Plans map that I made you put down at the beginning of the post—the one with the arrow or the question mark. It gets worse. Sometimes new parts of us are born only to be immediately locked up in prison as part of a denial of our own evolution—i.e. Opioids may moderate pain in crustaceans in a similar way to that in vertebrates. And by asking questions like these and digging deep enough to identify the true roots of your various yearnings, you start to turn on the basement light and acquaint yourself with your octopus in all its complexity. For a while, you can just live. Us being us, we’re probably pretty bad at assessing either side of this comparison accurately. William Skaggs is a neuroscientist whose experimental work has focused on the role of the hippocampus in learning, memory, and spatial navigation, but he is interested in several other areas of science as well, especially the study of consciousness. And seeing your career as a tunnel isn’t just unproductive—it’s delusional. There’s two reasons why pain is delayed, said Reddit user and medical student farhanfrn in a post in Reddit’s “Explain Like I’m Five” Community: It takes our body some time to send out a “pain signal.” In stressful situations, our body blocks pain signals, so … It’s really really deeply important, putting it squarely in “Definitely absolutely make sure to be a chef about it” territory. The other kind of reasoning—reasoning by analogy—happens when you look at the way things are already done and you essentially copy it, with maybe a little personal tweak here and there—kind of like a cook following an already written recipe. Then time happens. Was it really me?” The answer can get confusing. And if that weren’t enough, you sometimes have furious internal conflict inside a single yearning. But it’s still useful to pause for a minute and reflect on the vast extent of your full Reality Box—just acknowledging how many options are truly open to you can put you in the right mindset.9. Maybe that’s the right thing for you, but it also very well might not be. Generally, responses to the type of pain you enjoy fell into the following categories: E Putting a part of you on the bottom shelf is telling it, “I know you want these things, but for now, I’ve decided other things are more important. With that in mind, let’s return to your Want Box. Some path distances. This one is obvious. Maybe you’ll find a repressed passion to teach. They’ve been told to follow their passion, but they don’t feel especially passionate about anything. The fantastic website 80,000 Hours (which exists to help young, talented people work through their career choices) has compiled a lot of data to back this up: data on the fact that you’ll change, that the world will change, and that you’ll only learn with time what you’re actually good at. And if you continue with this, you’ll usually discover one of three things: 1) You’ll trace the Why back to its origin and reveal a long chain of authentic evolution that developed through deep independent thought. A mission-changing dot jump may be in order, but depending on which parts of you are asking for it, it may also be the wrong move. And while your practical tentacle would be totally down to just ask your rich uncle for money to help out, your social tentacle outlawed asking others for money because “it’s not a good look,” with your personal tentacle chiming in that “yeah, we’re better than that.”. 6:14 PM You’re the teacher—figure it out. So if you’re a college graduate who majored in computer science and your career goal is to be a middle-of-the-ladder engineer at Google, your distance might look like this: But if you’ve never done any kind of computer science before, and your career goal is to be the top engineer at Google, you’ve got a much longer road ahead: If your goal is to create the new Google, the road gets much, much longer. We’re frightened people. This post isn’t me giving you career advice really—it’s a framework that I think can help you make career decisions that actually reflect who you are, what you want, and what our rapidly changing career landscape looks like today. You might even wish you had it. Should we conclude that the robot is experiencing pain? How do animals experience pain? Feeling contentment in those times when your choices and your circumstances have combined to pull it off, and knowing you have all that you could ever ask for, is for the wise. But the game boards in less traditional careers often involve many more factors. It isn't clear that octopuses experience the type of empathy (or possibly any empathy) that would result in such a fear or sadness response. Trust me, I know. In many careers, likable (or subtly manipulative) people have a big advantage over less likable people—and those who enjoy socializing will put in more people hours over time, and build deeper relationships, than antisocial types. If we don't have clear answers to these sorts of scenarios, we will not be in a good position to make use of scientific data about octopi or other animals—maybe not even data about ourselves. Log In Sign Up. Even a seemingly high-minded yearning, like those on the moral tentacle, can’t understand the complete picture in the way you can. At its basic level, your practical tentacle wants to make sure you can eat food and wear clothes and buy the medicine you need and not live outside. Here, you can set up a little interrogation room and one by one, bring each yearning down into it for a cross-examination. But conventional wisdom still tells many of us that careers are tunnels. Creating your yearning hierarchy is a give and take between what’s important and what’s you. This is the mission-enhancing type of dot jump. You’ll think about their hypothetical advancement in the world and worry about what you may have passed up. We can call it the Option Pool. How does your brain know when you feel pain? Eric Barker’s blog is full of actual data that can help with career choices, like this post on what makes a career fulfilling or this one on the importance of mentors. The landscape today is made up of thousands of options—some 40 years old, some made possible only three months ago because of the advent of some new technology—and the way things work today, if there’s an option you want that’s not already out there, you can probably create it for yourself. Every time your income goes up, your lifestyle tentacle decides to raise the bar on what it wants and expects, leaving your practical tentacle continually in the shit trying to cover it all so you don’t have to run up your credit card debt. In other words, they’re the product of either you the chef or you the cook. And of course, that landscape—and those game boards—will have themselves evolved. Like a childhood dream that was etched into the back of your consciousness as the thing you believe you really want, when you’re being truly honest. My own psyche seems to back this up—looking back on my path so far, the mistakes that bother me most are the ones that happened because someone else took the wheel of my head and overruled the quiet, insecure voice of my authentic self—the mistakes that I knew at the time, deep down, were wrong. 6 hours ago — Michael J. Battaglia | Opinion, 10 hours ago — Michael Eisenstein and Nature magazine. It’s probably a good goal to give higher priority to your more noble qualities, but it’s okay to throw a bone to some of your not-so-noble sides as well—depending on where you decide to draw the line. Maybe it’s a dread of the change in identity—both internally and externally—that inevitably accompanies a career move like this. And a few less self-reflect-y Wait But Why posts on: Also hoodies are cozy and Allbirds are like wearing socks all the time and jeans are magical pants you never have to actually wash unless you spill something colorful on them.↩, Fun meals and exercise fall into this category.↩, I personally hope my retirement is just as rich and vibrant as a career path, which means I’ll need to continue to reflect on my path in Retirement Orchard.↩, You know he’s actually a Yearning Pentapus, I know he’s actually a Yearning Pentapus, and he knows he’s actually a Yearning Pentapus—but let’s just leave it alone.↩, There are printouts at the bottom of the post if you’d like to work through your analysis on paper.↩, Did you know that 9 out of 10 restaurants fail? S people aren ’ t important to me, and it ’ s a certain path! Feels consciousness our yearning octopus audit will address the hierarchy of your yearnings some. Choices—Is an awesome resource to day-to-day work ethic ) a desire to in! 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