I’ve been reading So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. I first heard of this book a few years ago from a podcast and it’s been on my reading list ever since. I’ve entered a soul searching mode recently in regards to my career. I’m trying to figure out where I want my career to go. This is a pretty big question and I’ve been finding the advice in this book pretty good for someone in my position.

I hit a point in the book where the author talks about “The Adjacent Possible”, which is a theory (and kind of a term) made by Stuart Kauffman. Like most good things this theory comes to us from the field of science, specifically biology. This Wired article does a good job of explaining this terms history.

How do this term apply to how I think about my career though?

I’m finding this term creates a good framework for how I can think about the direction I want my career to go. It’s forcing me to think about what career paths are “adjacent” to where my career currently is. I can even visualize this in my head now.

I can imagine my current place as one point and branching off from that point are other locations/career paths that I can take based on my current skill set and experience. This type of framing gives me a lot more confidence in determining if any given career path is possible because now I can ask “is this path adjacent to my current position?”. If it’s not then I can start figuring out how to become adjacent to that career path.

It’s like how I made the jump from consultant to software developer. I started building up the necessary skills and experience to bring me closer to the software developer career path until I was able to make that jump (Prophix to Pivotal).

Now that I’m in the field of software development though I’m finding myself rudderless with where I go within this field. Thinking about what’s adjacently possible though is helping me clear the fog around my career and helping me find future paths I can take.