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Linked from tdj - Elena's Journal
Linked from tdj
To be happy I think you have to be doing something you not only enjoy, but admire. You have to be able to say, at the end, wow, that's pretty cool. This doesn't mean you have to make something. If you learn how to hang glide, or to speak a foreign language fluently, that will be enough to make you say, for a while at least, wow, that's pretty cool. What there has to be is a test.
Prestige is just fossilized inspiration. If you do anything well enough, you'll make it prestigious. Plenty of things we now consider prestigious were anything but at first...
Prestige is especially dangerous to the ambitious. If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. That's the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on. It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn't suck, they wouldn't have had to make it prestigious.
The test of whether people love what they do is whether they'd do it even if they weren't paid for it—even if they had to work at another job to make a living. How many corporate lawyers would do their current work if they had to do it for free, in their spare time, and take day jobs as waiters to support themselves?
It's hard to find work you love; it must be, if so few do. So don't underestimate this task. And don't feel bad if you haven't succeeded yet. In fact, if you admit to yourself that you're discontented, you're a step ahead of most people, who are still in denial. If you're surrounded by colleagues who claim to enjoy work that you find contemptible, odds are they're lying to themselves. Not necessarily, but probably.


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6 comments or Leave a comment
radanax From: radanax Date: October 28th, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
good stuff. thanks for linking.
skiadaimonos From: skiadaimonos Date: October 28th, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very nice...
jordanlawman83 From: jordanlawman83 Date: October 28th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's a nice thought, but what if your dreams in life are more than just work? What if you want to do things that cost money, like travel? I'd take a crappier job if it enabled me to do the things I loved that I can't make a living doing.

Also, this seems to ignore the fact that we are highly social creatures. Take the old Big Three: money, power, respect. If you ask most people what they want in life, most choose the cash. But if you look at what people seem to care about, respect is probably what they want. The admiration of your peers. A higher social standing makes it more likely that you can slay the ladies and be reproductively successful.

Dealing with 'new money' types at work, I consistently find that the one thing that they all seem to crave is recognition from their former socioeconomic peers (Doug made it big time!) and, more importantly, from the members of the upper class (Who is this gauche creep think he is throwing around his money?).

I realize that this doesn't apply to everyone, but I would safely venture that it applies to most.
elena From: elena Date: October 28th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
You should call me when you're not working and we can discuss -- but you should read the whole article first.
jordanlawman83 From: jordanlawman83 Date: October 28th, 2009 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is a great essay and I agree with many of the author's points, however, I still standby my previous comment.
elena From: elena Date: October 28th, 2009 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
And I don't have five million years to write a response. So you should call me and we should discuss it sometime.
6 comments or Leave a comment