The Life-Changing Magic of High-Speed Career Sampling

By Nat Eliason in Life

Published or Updated on Aug 12, 2021

Well it seems I’m a crypto developer now. 

I deployed my first set of four smart contracts last weekend, and it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had with work. This is the first time in a while I’ve felt pulled to working 10-12 hour days. Not because of financial stress or urgency, but because I’m having so much damn fun with it. 

It took a while to get here though. I started winding down my role in Growth Machine a bit over a year ago, and officially stepped out in December. Since then, I’ve tried on three or four different new “careers” until I hit on this one. 

And since this one feels like it’s the one that’s sticking, I thought I’d share what that process looked like. 

Obviously there’s going to be a lot of narrative fallacy and backfitting explanations here but it makes a nice story and is still a useful idea so here we go.

The Goal

I think the goal of any career search is to find a sufficiently lucrative infinite game you could keep playing indefinitely. 

Every job is a game. Some of the games suck. Some are fun. Some are lucrative. Some aren’t. And it’s all individual. There are things you love that others hate. Things you hate others love. 

The goal of high-speed career sampling is not to get a bunch of jobs. It’s to do a bunch of different forms of work. You can do types of work without permission or anyone giving you a job. And you should probably try on the type of work before you take on a 2-4 year job. 

Basically you want to find a type of work that you enjoy doing, that pulls you in deeper, and that you’d keep doing for minimal compensation. If it happens to also pay a lot, great, but you should enjoy it even if it doesn’t. 

This doesn’t mean “find your passion” or that brand of nonsense as much as it means what kind of crap you’re willing to put up with. For example I’m very okay with sharing my random thoughts about things to tens of thousands of people with minimal editing. Many people are terrified by that idea. So that’s one kind of crap I’m willing to put up with. 

I’m not willing to put up with, say, meetings. I have almost zero meetings in my life and it’s incredible. I’m also not willing to put up with a salary. That’s a different one: most people prefer a reliable salary. But I see a salary as a cap on upside and I’d rather have the ownership. Anyway. 

So you want to try on a bunch of different kinds of work till you find one that keeps pulling you along. Where do you start? Wherever you want. 

Where I Started

YouTube. Ali Abdaal was blowing up and it seemed like all the cool kids were starting YouTube channels and I had a head start, so why not, let’s start a YouTube channel. 

I think I was pretty good at this. I’ve always been a confident public speaker and I have years of articles to use as content. I felt rather good about this video for example

YouTube was tough. It’s a lot of work to do the shooting, editing, writing, etc. Even with an editor it was really draining. I was getting subs pretty quickly which was great, but I kinda dreaded the whole making-videos part. Not a good infinite game for me. 

Then I did a bunch of mushrooms and realized the whole thing was super inauthentic so I quit. 

Round 2: Commercial Real Estate

Then I tried to start a town. 

Honestly I still love this idea. Basically I wanted to buy up the main street of a small town that’s had its businesses wrecked by Amazon / WalMart, and turn it into a sort of creator hub for remote workers. 

I went pretty far down this path. I had a business partner, we evaluated a ton of buildings, I met a lot of people in the town I was considering doing it in. 

But there were a few problems. One: money. It’s an insanely expensive project, with very low returns, and very long timelines. I could go raise money for it but it probably wouldn’t be a good ROI for people and it would cost a lot of reputation points. 

Two: time. If I committed to it I was looking at 2-3 years of construction management just to get started. That’s just what you have to do for this kind of project and that wasn’t a timeframe I was happy operating on. 

Three: interest. I was decently into the real estate stuff, but not that into it. I wasn’t reading a ton about it in my free time or listening to tons of podcasts on it. It was neat, but it wasn’t that strong of a pull. 

So, I killed this project too. It was a tad embarrassing considering how many people loved it, but hey, you gotta be okay with that in this high speed career sampling life. 

Round 3: Software Developer

Then I started coding more. 

I’ve always been interested in coding. I remember kinda wanting to get into it as a kid, but not having the resources to explore it. I tried again a bit in 2017, then it fell by the wayside when I focused on Growth Machine. So maybe now was the time to start learning again. 

I started with a basic Javascript / Node stack and started learning that way. I built CourseScore.io with my friend Adil, and I was pretty happy about that project! 

But there was something just not quite right with all the normal software stuff. I don’t even know what it was. I just didn’t care as much about what I was building. I loved the learning and getting better at coding. But not necessarily the projects. 

Round 4: DeFi Builder

So then through all this time a few things were going on. One, those automatic Bitcoin / Ethereum buys I wrote about in 2017 had suddenly turned into a lot of money. 

Two, there was actually interesting stuff happening in Crypto besides speculating on shitcoins. Most people just weren’t aware of it yet. 

I was getting deep into the DeFi stuff and was more interested in that than most of the coding projects I was working on, so I started learning Solidity, the programming language for Ethereum Decentralized Applications. 

This I loved. I don’t know what it is about it, but it just really clicked with me. There’s something really magical about writing some code that just runs autonomously on the world computer and facilitates millions of dollars in transactions. 

And I get to blend it with my life-long love for video games? Even better. This was the first stop in the career sampling journey where it felt like the infinite game was really pulling me along, and here we are. The last two weeks I was working 10-12 hour days putting together the contracts for Crypto Raiders and it was fucking awesome. 

So, here we are. It took a few tries, but I love this work. And I’m super happy I didn’t push through YouTube or commercial real estate. 

A few finer points: 

Finer Points

How Do You Know When to Quit?

Psychedelics help. Or just when the work feels like a chore. Remember, you’re looking for an infinite game of a type of work. Every job is going to have parts that suck, that’s just necessary. But if you love the underlying type of work you’re doing, the sucky parts are worth it. 

How Do You Fund This?

I was lucky that this site could pay for me to goof off for a year. Most people obviously don’t have that. So I’d recommend having 1 year of living expenses saved up you can draw on, and then try to make a bit of money along the way. 

If you’re in your 20s, don’t get overly swayed by the “magic of compounding interest.” It’s only magical if you make basically the same amount for the rest of your life. If you’re reading articles like this though you’re probably gonna do pretty well for yourself and make way more money later, so stop trying to be so responsible with it right now. Spend it on finding that work and worry about saving up later. 

What if People Judge Me?

Get over it. You’re gonna stick with some shitty type of work you don’t like because Jeff from High School might judge you for your LinkedIn? Jeff sucks.

How Do I Learn This Stuff?

YouTube. Blogs. Discord. Twitter. No one in history has ever had more access to choose and learn a new career than you have today. Don’t waste it. 

Yeah but You Have to Commit to Things!

I agree, but you have to commit to the right things. You should probably spend at least 10-20% of the time you’ll eventually spend on something deciding if you want to spend that time on it. So for a 10 year career, that’s a year of testing it. Lifetime of marriage, 3-4 years of testing. Don’t be embarrassed if you try something for a year and quit it. You just saved yourself a decade of unhappiness. 

That’s Not Enough Time to See if You’re Good at It!

That’s not the point. You’ll get good at anything you commit to. Most of talent is bullshit. Don’t worry about getting good, worry about seeing if you like the process of getting good. If you’re only going to enjoy something when you’re good at it, you’re not going to stick with it. You’re looking for what you also enjoy sucking at. 

Good luck!

Footnotes

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