In the name of Allah, most gracious and most merciful,
Passion, and follow your dream are words that are recently very popular, and widespread. Of course, passion is important, and doing what you love is very important in order to do your best. The problem is not in that thing, but the problem is in the rush, being unrealistic, and taking decisions so fast without enough critical thinking.
Before telling my point of view which could be wrong in some sense due to my bias, and a lot of factors that I myself may be unaware of, I will have to share important things. Moreover, I will try to apply critical thinking to decrease the noise in my opinion, and the amount of bias in it.
2. What is Passion?
Is it that you feel that something seems to be really great for you? Just you feel it (Follow your heart, right?). Did you ever try it with your hand? So, first of all, to ensure that you really love something before investing too much time in it, you have to first answer these questions to know what are you going into:
- What is the definition of that field that I seem to be passionate about?
- What are the topics of that field?
- What are the benefits of that field?
- To which big umbrella do this field belong (Physics, Medicine, Humanities, Science Applications (Engineering), …)
- What are the different names of that field? Because it may has another name that you are unaware of that reveals a new perspective about this field to take into consideration during your evaluation period.
- What are the current big problems in that field that need to be solved?
- What are the applications of that field?
Well, after I have done all that research, I feel that it seems to be a really good field for me. Now, it should be clearer to you if it is a passion or just a whim due to difficulties you are facing in your current field or domain.
Now suppose that, after all this, this field seems a really good fit for you. You are now even more enthusiastic to learn a lot in that field. Well, the next step is to look for the skills required to work in that field by checking the job descriptions of different jobs that you want to work in. After this choose the most important skills and learn to a good extent in them in only about 20 hrs. Why not yet go with my all into it? Because you can’t really tell if something is good for you or not unless you apply it by yourself to start to really make sense if it really seems as it was before applying it or not. In other words, you can’t know for sure unless you make your hands dirty in that field.
You could check how to learn anything in 20 hrs from this Youtube video.
As far as I know, in the first 20 hrs, you learn a lot in that field since you are moving from nearly 0 to something. Whatever above 0 you will feel that it is too much because you didn’t know anything before that. This learning rate usually decreases after the 20 hrs period, so it is something to be aware of to avoid any unnecessary demotivation after this stage.
Now at this stage, you have known more if you love that field or not. It is not just an assumption, you have taken much time to investigate important information about that field, and to make your hands dirty by actually applying what you learned and feel what this field really looks like. Now, let’s jump into the next step.
3. If in High-school Period
If you are in the high-school period, and you are investigating which field might be the most promising for you. You could do the same previous steps mentioned in step 1 with these fields and see what is the most promising field for you to pursue in the next 5 years of your life for instance. You could even combine between two fields if the college you intend to go to gives you the option of having a major and a minor.
4. If Career Shift
However, if you are making a career shift, there are other important considerations that you should have before making this shift.
- Since you are already working in that field or even applying for a job in it, you have already gone a long way. The questions might be:
- Is it better to combine the two fields especially in that era we are living in where multidiscipline is becoming more important than before, and even new fields are emerging? That might even give you a competitive edge in the market.
- You are supporting a family, and you have to make money so you must not make the transition until you are fully qualified to work in that other field?
- Or no you totally hate the field you are in, and you want to completely shift your career to another field? You are not married yet, and you could support yourself for some time until you have the skills that qualify you to work in that field.
- What about the market of that field? Is it in high demand so that as soon as you acquire the most important skills you could easily find a job, or it is highly competitive and you should invest a huge amount of time to be highly skilled in that field? If you are very sure that it is your field, you are a hard worker, and you have a high probability of entering that competitive market and work in it. You have the time, and money to support yourself in that period. Then you might consider that option.
- If you decided to go with your all in that field and leave your current field entirely, then make your plans, ask experts about your plans to ensure you are moving in the correct direction and not wasting your time, and go ahead. Work hard until you have the skills that qualify you to work in that field.
- If you decided that you should make the transition smoothly, which I prefer because the first 20 hrs are still not enough to be 100% sure that you are passionate about that field. But you are just increasing the certainty in the path you are moving by the previous steps including the 20 hrs. If you decided on this smooth transition, then make a plan to acquire the most important skills in your free time. Day after day, you are improving, you are seeing the picture clearer, and you decrease the amount of regret if you entirely left your current field. Then the point is to make sure your plan is up to date with the market, to learn the fundamentals, and the most important skills while asking experts to validate your plan because they usually see a lot more things than what you are seeing. Then it is just a matter of time and continuous effort, and that’s it.
5. Important Things to Understand
Now after all this, I think things should have become much clearer but let me share with you some important things that I have learned from my trials, and from others:
- Nothing is easy. Everything takes time. Whatever field you are in, you have to put a huge amount of consistent time and effort to be great in your field. Being in a field that is closer to your innates and to what you love could increase the amount of deliberate practice you spend in that field to be great at it, and that is the point of following what you love or if you want to call it your passion.
- Everything appears to be great from the outside of it especially if it is a trend in the market. Everyone is talking about it, and it seems really prestigious to be working in that field. However, the previous steps should decrease the amount of bias, and the number of errors that might happen due to such a case. You are applying critical thinking. You are ensuring that you really want to work in that field whatever the market state is. Therefore, it is expected that you will be great in that field, and wherever the market goes, you are expected to be from the leaders in that field or even see how you could benefit from the different market drops in your field based on your experiences. You are not just from the crowd with mediocre skills that are searching for the easy things to do. Usually the less pain threshold in the field, the more you will find people in that field because it is human nature to do what is easy and to spend the least possible effort.
- Don’t overstress yourself wanting to have much money, and your target is to earn more. There are other important considerations. Enjoy your work, thank Allah for what you have, see how you could be beneficial and how to add value to those around you, and Insha’Allah money will come to you. Your salary could be seen as the difference between the amount of production and your consumption. The more you give, the more you produce. But it is not totally true, because someone might make many things for free, and he is still adding value but not gaining any money. But with the correct intent, Insha’Allah he is gaining a lot which could be reflected in many aspects of his life that are untangible but it truly touches him.
- Human thought leans towards wishful thinking “As Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, Tesla, and other companies said” rather than critical thinking. Don’t fall into that trap. Don’t expect that after making your transitions you will instantly earn a lot. You should be more realistic while doing what you could do to do what you are created for. Think critically and have hope. Because despair could come from expecting much, and getting less than you expect. However, if you are not expecting much, and you are satisfied with what you have while doing what you could do, you may be much happier since you are already living your dream. Look for the wonderful things around you and appreciate them. In the end, we will all die and we will leave all that. Therefore you should live all your life while having this in mind. Your intent. Why are you doing all this?
6. Final Note About my Career Shift
If you know me, you will that I moved from Aerospace engineering, then to embedded systems, then to self-driving cars, and finally to machine learning and Natural Language Processing.
Let me be sincere with you, I love science, and engineering by nature. While I was learning all of these, I was really enjoying myself. I didn’t expect to work in another field but the field I was currently studying. Therefore, I focused a lot on all of these, learned them well, and have even obtained a high grade in my college. Whenever field I was in, I was keen on having the skills to work in that field, and you could notice that from my profile on LinkedIn. I was very well preparing myself, and I have even considered taking in Masters in Aerospace engineering after the final year in my college that I have taken the English IELTS certificate twice which proves that I was really into these fields.
However, as time went on, Allah gave me the time and the opportunity to learn new things that I didn’t expect to have the time to learn. Things were not under my control. I could even have been sad for not working directly after graduation, but instead, I tried to do what I could do in that time and to learn what I didn’t have time to learn before. Time goes on, and on until I finally made the career shift to machine learning and Natural Language Processing. It is not that I hate other fields, but it is that I see the current field is the most suitable to my inntates and I still love all the other fields. How the transition happened was very strange that I didn’t even expect, but it happened. How I obtained my first job was even stranger. From here, we should remember the saying of “Permission is the sign of facilitation”. I am currently very happy in my new field after exceeding a year in it, and see very high potential in it. I don’t regret learning all these new things, because I love science and engineering, and I think if I didn’t know these fields I would have not been as happy. They gave me engineering frameworks to look at things from, they gave me the wonderful sense of engineering that is happening in all of these fields, and most importantly they made me appreciate more the world that Allah has created. How all these things are working so smoothly? How all these are happening at the same time? The truth is, we are living in miracles.
Before making these transitions, I didn’t apply what I initially advised you with because I didn’t know these things in such detail that I am presenting them to you. So, you would better benefit from these experiences and benefit from others’ mistakes, but my mistakes were wonderful :). So I have had the time to completely transition to another field but it was still under the engineering umbrella so the transition was not so difficult for me. But I have had that luxury of time to invest in a new field, but that luxury of time was not in my control. Allah has given it to me.
Even after making the transition to artificial intelligence, I found many terms appearing my way that seems catchy and made me wonder. What are these fields? You know, they seem so interesting. But I decided not to fall again in that trap. Therefore, I performed something close to my pieces of advice above, and I didn’t even need the 20 hrs because I knew that the field, I am currently in is still the best thing for me right now. You could check my posts on how I analyzed the artificial intelligence different fields in a similar way to what I advised you under the explore category of my website here.
Thank you. I hope this post has been beneficial to you. I would appreciate any comments if anyone needed more clarifications or if anyone has seen something wrong in what I have written in order to modify it, and I would also appreciate any possible enhancements or suggestions. We are humans, and errors are expected from us, but we could also minimize those errors by learning from our mistakes and by seeking to improve what we do.
Allah bless our master Muhammad and his family.