For the record, Po Bronson's book by that title doesn't really provide any answers. It just tells you about some of the lucky bastards who have figured out an answer to the question. So, yeah... This is something I'm thinking about a lot these days. Unless something changes drastically and some switch gets flipped in my head, I don't see myself doing what I'm doing now for more than, say, another five years.
So what do I want to do instead? I have absolutely no idea.
It's a hell of an exercise to try to figure out where your passion lies and what work would make you happy day-to-day. Lately, I've been asking myself the lottery question:
What would I do if I won PowerBall today?
The thought is that even if I had buckets of cash falling out of my ears I would do something to keep myself busy. I figure that if, I can find the answer to that question, I might be able to translate that into something that would actually pay the bills. As of yet, the answer hasn't come to me. I have no effing clue.
And aside: For those of you who might be thinking "Why is he all freaked out about this now? He's in his early-mid-thirties, shouldn't he be settling into a groove right about now?" Well, maybe / maybe not. Let me just use my darling mother as an excuse: While I was in college studying to be the rocket scientist I never became, she took the opportunity to go to Tufts and become a veterinarian. Total mid-life (a bit early) career change. This is the precident I'm working with.
One option I've long carried in my hip pocket is the posibility of becoming an architect. It's what I wanted to do before I got distracted by airplanes and went into Aerospace. It would take me three and a half years of full-time school to get a Masters Degree, after which I'd be starting at basically zero. Not that it's really the part that matters to me, but the salary would probably be about 50-60% of what I'm making now. Truth be told, I have no real idea if I would enjoy the work, or if I'd be any good at it. It's a scary gamble.
Then there's the idea of making things and earning a living with those creations. Right now, I always think of furniture when I go down this path. Problems with this idea include the fact that I'm really not that skilled at the woodworking yet, and I really don't want to be in the position where I have to beat the streets to self-promote (If you're making furniture, you have to let people know somehow, right? I'm doubtful that I'd be any good at that part. And then I'd starve.).
(The self-promotion angle comes along with the architect idea, too.)
Friends and I have talked about refurbishing houses (with custom furniture and all that jazz) and flipping them, but it doesn't seem realistic to me. Especially since we'd have to start out doing it part-time while coninuing to crush our souls at the office (that's a joke, it's not all that bad). It's be cool though - and might even work, because these people are talented in areas where I am not.
Maybe I should just come up with a few more t-shirt designs or something...
Now that I'm petering out a bit, let me say out-loud that I really don't hate my current job. I love the people I work with, and we solve extremely interesting problems every day. This career path was a complete accident, and I am grateful for it.
I just don't think it's the path I want to follow for the rest of my life.