A lot of people here talk about career development and finding your calling. But what if your career - and calling - weren’t actually real? What if you were sat in a ‘shadow career’ for months, years… decades?

I initially skimmed over this concept from Steven Pressfield’s book ‘Turning Pro’. But then, it reappeared, and walloped me right in the face. Technical knockout.

The Shadow Career is one of the most powerful - and tbh, kinda scary - concepts I’ve ever encountered. Here’s how Pressfield describes it:

“Sometimes, when we're terrified of embracing our true calling, we'll pursue a shadow calling instead. That shadow career is a metaphor for our real career. Its shape is similar, its contours feel tantalizingly the same. But a shadow career entails no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us.”

If you care about your career (and if you’re here, you probably do) I urge you to read the quote a few times. Tantalizing contours. A story that we tell ourselves. But it’s all meaningless. Ouch.

The shadow career can be just fine. But it can also play a trick on us, even send us down a gradually contorting path that never ends.

I wonder if the real challenge isn’t actually to find our calling - but to figure out which pieces of our career jigsaw puzzle are in fact just shadow.

Chasing Shadows