The Career You Should Have Picked

During the 2021 Pokémon card resurgence and subsequent mania, I discovered that what had once been an obsession of mine when I was nine was now a million-dollar industry. Youtubers bought 20-year-old booster boxes for thousands of dollars and opened them live on stream. Collectors drove around with dozens of binders on their backseat, hoping to get the cards they needed to complete a long-forgotten set. And from card exchanges to trading fairs to the PSA grading agency, millions of people wanted in either on the fun or on the money — and in many cases on both.

After briefly cursing myself for selling my cards for cents on the dollar long ago, I was happy to see that something so simple could bring so much joy to so many people for so long. Not only the people following the creators and collecting in private, but the creators themselves, too. Who would have thought that someone as loud and brazen as Logan Paul would turn into a little kid again over opening a bunch of card packs? Or that Justin Bieber has a full-on display of the first 151 Pokémon cards on his wall?

The person I was most surprised to see, however, was Pat Flynn. Pat was an architect who got laid off in the 2008 housing crisis. He then started a website teaching architect’s how to pass their exams. Eventually, he launched and grew Smart Passive Income, one of the first and best resources showing anyone how to start an online business. And now, apparently, Pat was a Pokémon Youtuber.

Having followed Pat’s work for almost a decade, it seemed he was finally getting back to a childhood dream of his, thanks to his business doing well. He wasn’t set on flipping cards for money or pulling the rarest monsters. He simply wanted to enjoy Pokémon again — together with anyone else who loved the games and cards. I saw Pat giving away lots of cards on his streams, handing cards to others who needed them for free, and do a lot of things that seemed to throw his usual business acumen out the window. Perhaps that’s why it worked.

On Deep Pocket Monster, Pat has more subscribers than on his main Youtube channel, which he’s been growing for years. His first Pokémon card convention, Card Party, was a smashing success. Pat’s second career in Pokémon seems to be the ultimate proof that the more you love what you do, the better it will go.

It really makes you wonder: Why don’t we choose our biggest creative loves off the bat? Almost no one does, putting rhyme and reason ahead of passion for the game. In the moment, it feels like an adult, reasonable decision, but years later, we might realize that few ever get to where Pat has gone: the point where your main business works well enough, you have enough time and money to just chase what may be a fruitless dream. Maybe postponing to become a card collector, write a book, or build your own electronics is a bigger risk than to go for it when conditions seem unfavorable.

How many Justin Biebers should actually be Pokémon Youtubers, and how many silent watchers of video game streamers would have been better off playing with the pros? We’ll never know, but every time a dream many folks share resurges, like Pokémon did in 2021, some of those people will reveal themselves. Most will just enjoy the nostalgia, few will begin nourishing their dream again on the regular, if only in little ways, and only a rare handful will turn the ship of their life around and say, “Full steam ahead! To dream land, here we go!”

What is your dream, and which option will you choose? I won’t ever need to know, but sooner or later, you’ll have to decide. Just know that, whichever direction you go, it’s never too late to start a second career — and if it’s the one you should have picked in the first place, it might go a whole lot better than you could ever imagine.