A shared past/present/future dilemma in the professional space is what I learned from yesterday, which job is available today, and what to know for tomorrow. It gets more complicated as career and family building kicks in and is even more stressful as people age. Suppose you can imagine the past, present, and future as building blocks in a stack. The future blocks are at the bottom, the present is in the middle, and the past is at the top. Also, imagine that the number of past, present, and future blocks equals the years of experience. We can then come up with some ideas. If you have been in the industry for a long time, the past blocks will put more weight over the present and the future blocks underneath. Since we cannot predict the years of experience in the future, we can forecast according to the time left until we hit the retirement age. Those with a reasonably short past career will have a lot of future blocks ahead. Conversely, those who have amassed a long career in the past will have fewer future blocks than in the past. In between the past and future blocks, the present block is one block that can make or break the stack.

For the career young, the shorter past blocks will not shake the present block, but the large future blocks will put more weight on The shorter past blocks will not shake the present block for the early career starters, but the large pile of future blocks will exert pressure. For long-term career professionals, one misaligned block of the past can make the whole stack unstable, let the present block fall, and threaten the existence of the future blocks. Either way, the present blocks are in a sensitive situation - pressure or not pressure from the past blocks, and break or make the future blocks. Those middle sets of blocks, the present block, the recent past block, and the upcoming future block, will form the balance between the past and the future unless some external force or King Kong tumbles the whole stack down.

So what do you do if you want an illuminating past, a less fragile present, and a healthy stack toward the future? We can’t change the number of blocks we stack as our experience throughout our lives from past, present, and future, but we can influence its quality. Think of playing constructive-building Minecraft rather than destructive-style Fortnite. Which type of blocks do you want to build - gold, steel, wood, shiny, cracked? How do you want them stacked? Horizontally, vertically, or both? Do you want to build a castle, a fort, or a pyramid? Do you want something that is a work of art, science, or a hybrid? Do you want to spend much time making every block perfect or have fun stacking things? The ideas can go on and on. Last, play Minecraft as your career-building strategy. Stop wasting time destroying things, as in Fortnite.