So I've been reading Cal Newport's book "So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love" which LonerMatt mentioned in another forum thread.
And I realized SGTCIY is to careers like ERE is to retirement. In other words, it provides some highly useful concepts for those 5 years of working when starting from scratch on the path to ERE.
It covers a lot of the job issues that people bring up on this forum. Issues like job happiness, lack of control, doing thankless work, and deciding whether to "stick it out for another X number of years in a horrid environment."
So the part that made me sit up and really take notice, is that it talks about building career capital (Hello? Sounds like ERE already!). Career capital mainly comes from rare & valuable skills that you actively develop. Once you have this capital, you can leverage it to get more control over your current job or land a better job. Similar to how having a large emergency fund frees you up in this way too.
Job happiness seems to depend on control (autonomy) & ability. The more competent you are, the happier you are in your job.
This means it is less important to jump around jobs trying to find a job that matches your pre-existing passions. Instead, the book argues for taking a craftsman approach. Engaging in deliberate practice, and working on developing the critical skills that really matter in your endeavours.
A great quote from the book - "Control that's acquired without career capital is not sustainable." That sounds so ERE-ish does it not?
I found it interesting because it made me realize that I made some pretty big mistakes before.
For example, I left my job 6 years ago and tried to make it on my own, without sufficient career capital (skills) to succeed. Now I'm looking for a job again, after 6 years. Brutal. If only I had read ERE & SGTCIY years ago.
Of interesting note: Jacob developed additional skills during his ERE and used that to get a good job with lots of control as a quant.