“People early in their career should learn from computer science: meander some in your walk (especially early on), randomly drop yourself into new parts of the terrain, and when you find the highest hill, don’t waste any more time on the current hill no matter how much better the next step up might appear.”
This analogy of changing careers to a computer science problem of finding the tallest hill really put things in perspective for me. I felt out of place in my job, but when I focused on leaving, I was distracted by my current hill. There was always something promising on the horizon: a raise, a bonus, stock vesting, a promotion, a new role opening up. What I never considered is where that path led – even if I made it to the top of that mountain, it was not the mountain I was trying to climb. Rather than think of what is lost walking away from where you are, realize that where you are is possibly not on the path to where you want to be; if you don’t change your path now, it will only get more and more difficult to get there. Make your course changes swift.
When I finally realized that I was looking for a completely different hill, all the promises on the horizon faded. As I was giving notice, I found out I was being considered for an extremely attractive position, quite possibly the position I had waited years for. The day I gave notice, a partner created another very attractive role for which I was a strong fit. But I was confident that I did not need to consider them, because I knew they would not get me where I wanted to be.