Don’t wait for that perfect life path to appear before you. That’ll happen for 5% of the people and not for the rest. Pick something and start working hard in it – don’t worry if you already know it’s not the perfect thing. You’ll be doing something else three or five years from now. You won’t be “behind” by not choosing the perfect thing right off the bat. Picking something now and advancing in it will give you contacts you didn’t expect as well as general experience you need, both of which will uncover opportunities you didn’t know about and will get you in that door. Then you’ll do it again. And through this varied experience and growing body of contacts, you’ll zero in closer and closer to the life path that truly satisfies. Don’t wait. Don’t hold back. Don’t refuse to commit because something isn’t perfect. Get moving. Time won’t wait for you. In your late 30s it will dawn on you that you need to have a good foundation under you at that point, but it’s easy to squander the preceding years in an unfocused way waiting for things to click or magically appear.
In concert with the above, recognize that nobody will hand you anything. People who have things (great job, money, wife, house, reputation, respect, control, life of adventure, whatever) are the people went out and wrestled them to the ground (careful with that wife). This is particularly important for smart people who cruised through school on minimal effort. You may unconsciously expect to keep being automatically advanced like you were in school, which would mean that people are lined up waiting to hand you stuff when you get out, but that moving sidewalk stops when you get out and nobody’s waiting. Learn to move forward under your own power or you will fall flat. The C students never thought anything would be handed to them so they got out and rolled up their sleeves and did the work without any sense of entitlement. They’ll be your boss soon.
As you do the work above, be adaptable. Life is messy and the rules mostly go out the window after school ends. Things will rarely go to plan in the workplace (or in life in general). Be the person who understands this ahead of time, expects it to happen, and is ready to make a course correction when it does without getting frustrated or stumped. Stay loose, eyes sharp. At any given point, present conditions are all you’ve got, regardless of what you were “supposed” to have. So make the best of it by re-starting from where you are using what you’ve got. The people who can adapt in this way, who can creatively keep something going after things go wrong, will be the ones who rise. All your bosses care about ultimately is that the job gets done so find a way and don’t make excuses. If you don’t own the business you work for, pretend you do. If you did, you’d never say “well he didn’t get me that thing he was supposed to get me so I’m sorry, I can’t do that thing you wanted – it’s not my fault.” Because if you did, you wouldn’t eat. Pretend that completing your task is your job alone and nobody else is accountable and it has to be done no matter what. Once you own an issue like that, you’ll get a lot more creative and dogged about getting it done.