It used to be that you graduated college and got a career. You spent years of your adolescence preparing for one line of work, and you got in and stayed in. You paid your dues, earned tenure and retired with a pension. It made sense, it moved linearly.
Now you graduate college (if you went to college) and you start a project. You get a job at a bookstore, but on the side you start a photography business. You focus your efforts on photography, and earn some income along the way. Then you decide that you want to start another project, and you become a blogger. You pair up what you know about photography and start sharing it with the world.
Now you have two projects, and it makes enough money to quit your job at the bookstore a focus your energy on those projects. Then, a year or so later, you decide to move on from photography and you become a freelance consultant because you can, and because your interests change. You start another project. It doesn’t always make sense, it moves organically and haphazardly, but more importantly, it’s what this current economical and cultural climate is prime for.
Only in today’s climate can you be in a UX designer in a tech startup, while painting on the side, and operating a food truck on the weekends.
People don’t get careers, they start projects.
P.S. I got this entire idea from Seth Godin. I’m sure he wrote a blog post or a book about it once and it stuck.