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How to reach the next level without a walkthrough

donkey kong level 1

Sometimes it’s a simple matter of practice (ok, so not that all practice is effective but let’s put that aside for now); it could be developing muscle memory and honed reactions like the ones I wished I’d had when playing Donkey Kong or Manic Miner as a child.

Back then the way to the next level was obvious, jump and climb, jump and climb.

Manic miner level 1
Run, Jump, Climb, Repeat

The same could be said for career development; jump to a new company and climb up the ranks, jump and climb. To some extent you can practice that too.

But sometimes the next level is hidden, a bit like a secret entrance to a passage in Tomb Raider, or the iron key almost indistinguishable from the silver grey floor on level 1 of the original Dungeon Master (see below). You can look forever and never see it until someone hands you a player’s guide or walk-through.

I see no iron key here…


From a career point of view the next level may be a completely different game that no one told you even existed.

So without a walkthrough or cheat sheet how do you work out the next move?

Clearly that depends on how far along you are in the world of work. Starting out – have a look at 80,000 hours (which I’ve referenced in my post on being effective when considering how to do the most good) and maybe take the career quiz.

Further along the road then things can feel like there are decreasing opportunities with each passing year. But just because you spent three years or more studying for a degree in a particular subject doesn’t mean you can only have a career in that field.

Also if you are fortunate enough to be exactly where you planned to be, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be thrown a few curve balls along the way that take you a little or even completely off course.

So be open to suggestions from people you trust, consider if the obvious next step is really the right one for you. Have a look at this great post from Richard Alderson which charts the steps he took to identify the hidden path to his next level.

Or, of course, you could keep running, jumping and climbing.

Tomorrow brings more Midweek Earwormery, until then..

Donovan

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