Avoid Unchallenging Occupations – They Waste Your Talents

Are you challenged at work? If not, you are probably wasting your talent. I got this fortune cookie recently and amazingly it has the best career advice I have ever seen or heard.




I tend to thrive on pressure. Not everyone is like that and that is not the point. But if I am not constantly pressured and pushed, I waste my talent. It never gets a chance to come out. It never sees the light of day.

And I end up miserable. I look for challenges in other places. The wrong places.

So for you it might not be pressure cookers. You might not thrive in crises like me. You might not enjoy being under the gun every day with short deadlines.




But there is something that challenges you and inspires you. And when you find it (odds are you already have found it, but aren’t living in it) you will be using your full talent. You will experience exhilaration every day.

What challenges you? What talents are you not using and how can you use them?



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  • When I had a career change a year ago I was relieved that it would be simpler and more focused….now I miss the pressure, problems, staffing issues….well maybe not that last one..

  • Dang bro. Those are some deep questions. What challenges me? Getting things out of the top cupboards in my kitchen… Seriously. I either have to get a chair or climb on the counter! And counters are hard on your knees!
    haha, but seriously. Man, that really is a tough question. I think what challenges me is being presented with a problem or a challenge and being asked to solve it. I feel most alive when I’m sitting down with someone and we’re looking at their problem together and trying to figure out 1. what the challenge is 2. where we want to go and 3. how do we get through the challenge to where we want to go.
    I love that. It is a blast to me!
    Thanks for the great post, and that ancient fortune cookie wisdom is great!! Sadly, all too often my fortune cookies turn out to be “proverb cookies”. Which, of course is what this one is, but at least this was a good one!

    • What are you doing now that challenges you?

      What are you doing that isn’t a challenge and could be replaced by something that is?

      • Dang Chris Matthews! Ease up on the Hardball!! The project I’m working on is really challenging me. It’s taking a lot of time, a lot of learning, a lot of flying by the seat of my pants…and I’m loving every minute of it!!

    • Katherine Leicester

      This sounds more like passion than a simple challenge, Mark. I can see your eyes light up and your heartbeat quicken when you’ve been given the gift of a problem to solve where you can sit with someone and use your native talent, experience, and (you knew it was coming) PASSION in the way they were intended to be used.

      Bravo for you.

      • You’re right Katherine! Thanks for the compliment and encouragement

        • Katherine Leicester

          My pleasure, Mark.

  • Debbie Blunt

    I don’t like to be stagnant. I could never have a job where I did the exact same thing evey day, day in and day out. Looking back, I think that is what I loved best about being in the technology industry and now the online marketing industry. Every day is different, technology is always changing and evolving, and no two days are the same. It keeps my brain exercised! Of course, having a day of mindless tasks is a nice break on occasion 😉

  • My work is extremely challenging, which is probably why I love it. I do forecasting/demand planning – and like the weather man I’m paid to be wrong. It is the degree of wrong and the process to get there that motivates me to keep going. Also – this post made me hungry for Panda Express which is hard to find here in NW Ohio.

    • Dude. How far are you from Ft. Wayne? We can meet there.

      • Maybe 90 minutes…we totally should!

        • Nice. Shoot me an email at matt -at- mattmcwilliams.com and we can set something up.

  • Great fortune cookie message!

  • Kirbie Earley

    I don’t do well idle myself. I don’t, however, need a crisis either. I like to be busy and I work best under deadlines (okay so maybe I do need a crisis). I find that if I don’t feel challenged, I go find one.
    My favorite fortune cookie that I got recently (from the same restaurant) is “Fame is in your future”. It was a keeper!

    • I think most people feel the need to be challenged. Unfortunately most people also go to great lengths to avoid them.

      • Kirbie Earley

        I’m the opposite, I seek challenges, it’s what keeps me going.