A wiring for external rewards


I have been working at Bain and Company as a consultant for almost two years. Like many of my peers, I went into consulting (sub in investment banking or FAANG) because I did not know what I wanted to do with my life, it provided a great pay-check, and it is a strong status symbol.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with these jobs, but it is good to be clear about these facts. Doing so has helped keep me honest about constantly examining how my job aligns with my long-term happiness.

For the last ~8 months, I have been actively trying to figure out what I want to do next. A few jobs have piqued my interest, but for various reasons, they did not work out.

When a friend asked me, “If you quit Bain tomorrow, what would you do?“, I did not have a good answer for him. Even though I knew I didn’t want to work at Bain, I was not sure what I really wanted to do. Without a clear direction, it is difficult to break the inertia of the current state.

I have had trouble finding this direction for most of my life. I have dabbled in many areas, but have never found a true passion for anything in particular. A passion to me is something that you do for purely intrinsic reasons.

I believe that having a passion leads to a happier and more meaningful life. I want to have a passion, but I have never seemed to pick one up. Why is this the case?

Upon exploring this on a deeper level over the past few weeks, I realized it may trace back to my schooling. In school, I was rewarded on short time frames by getting A’s on a test. Rarely, if ever, did I learn through interest.

I have been wired to seek out reward, accomplishment, and status with everything I try. When I find a new topic, I subconsciously wonder what is in it for me. When I have a new start-up idea, I ask if it will make me rich. Not to say this line of thinking is wrong, but it is certainly not the way to find a passion.

Even though I recognize this, it is tough to undo 23 years of the way my mind has been wired.

Now, finally, I am taking action to unwire what has been done. Exploring, experimenting, and socializing are the key pillars to my action. Simply put, I want to work on impactful projects with interesting people and see what comes of it.