How to choose a career you want with incentives

There are 5 types of incentives in life (3 according to the book Freakonomics), powered by 5 different types of “minds” in your head.

  • Economical
  • Moral
  • Social
  • Personal
  • Logical

Your economical mind wants you to become an investment banker. He wants you to make as much money as you can and get rich.

Your moral-self wants you to save the world and cure cancer and poverty on the same day. He wants you to help as many people as you can.

Your social mind seeks fame and approval. She wants all the Instagram likes and followers and wants everyone in her friend circle to admire her.

The personal part of your brain is the one that wants you to achieve your personal dreams. She wants you to be the best version of you—meditatesevery dayy, exercises, eats healthy, has a family and children, and owns 5 cute puppies. She wants to make a difference in the world, and she wants to feel good while doing it.

Your logical self is the bastard in the back of your head telling you: “Calm down! Let’s just live a normal, passive life, and not taking any risks.” This logical self is the one that stops you from doing crazy shit—which is good because it keeps you safe. But he also crushes your dreams of wanting to be an NBA player or Broadway actor.

How do you decide what you want to do in life?

First ask yourself: which of those incentives controls most of your decisions?

Is it all 5? Or is it just 1 or 2? Are you most driven by the idea of being rich, or famous, or both? Or do you want to cure cancer?

For example: here is my rough “breakdown” for now

  • Economical (30%)
  • Moral (30%)
  • Social (5%)
  • Personal (30%)
  • Logical (5%)

My idea of a future career is one where I am 1) rich, 2) able to help people, and maybe cure poverty 50% of the way, and 3) be the best version of myself.

Those 3 are my top incentives, with social and logical not really a big factor in my decision making.

Some people have their breakdown look like this:

  • Economical (200%)
  • Moral (-100%)
  • Social (0%)
  • Personal (0%)
  • Logical (0%)

Basically, the Wall Street investors who are willing to exploit others for money.

Thankfully, some people look like this:

  • Economical (0%)
  • Moral (100%)
  • Social (0%)
  • Personal (0%)
  • Logical (0%)

Thank goodness we have people like this. Shoutout to volunteers & philanthropists around the world.

So. What incentives are you driven by?

Then ask yourself, what career can best fulfill the incentives I most value?

For me, I value economical, moral, and personal.

In the future, I plan to be a: Investor, financial advisor, future professor.

Investor to make money and invest in companies I believe in (ethical companies, green companies like solar or renewable energy, and companies that are making a difference). Make loads of money so I can be financially stable and use that stability to help other people achieve the same.

Financial advisor to help low-medium income families who might need a little “push” in the right direction of the financial world.

Future professor, to help inspire and educate the future generation, and also to prove to myself that I can be a valuable person to society.

And then when I am rich, I plan to donate the large sums of my wealth to charity / causes I care about.

Economical, Moral, and Personal—all hit.

But in the end, whatever career you choose, just be happy to choose it, and be happy in life.

Good Luck.

Post is inspired by Tim Urban’s Blog (5 Incentives Tentacles)


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