Ernst Haeckel’s now-debunked theory of recapitulation claimed that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” which is a mouthful.

The idea was that the development (ontogeny) of an embryo somehow mirrors the evolutionary history (phylogeny) of a species. This implies that a human embryo progresses through condensed stages from microbe to fish and so on until becoming a human infant. We now know it doesn’t quite work like that, but these neat and tidy ideas are the most stubborn. Stephen Jay Gould’s first book, Ontogeny and Phylogeny (1977) (summarized here), contains the full story.

I bring up the theory of recapitulation because every time I go through a significant life change, whether a career transition or change of address or change in relationship status or change in income bracket, up or down, I go through a progressive cycle of reevaluating my options in a process that resembles recapitulation.

Should I get back into tech? (Restart my early career building databases.)

Should I work in finance or accounting? (Take a traditional MBA-type job.)

Should I write about business, tech, and finance? (A successful strategy since 2000.)

Or, to continue the recapitulation analogy, should I evolve into a higher life form? Writer. Artist. Musician.

Yes, yes, and yes.

Just maybe not all at the same time.