Part of my Knowledge Repository.
- A parent who set an example of loving their work might help their kids more than an expensive house.
- The definition of work was now to make some original contribution to the world, and in the process not to starve.
- Do what you love doesn't mean, do what you would like to do most this second. Even Einstein probably had moments when he wanted to have a cup of coffee, but told himself he ought to finish what he was working on first.
- The rule about doing what you love assumes a certain length of time. It doesn't mean, do what will make you happiest this second, but what will make you happiest over some longer period, like a week or a month.
- As a lower bound, you have to like your work more than any unproductive pleasure. You have to like what you do enough that the concept of "spare time" seems mistaken. Which is not to say you have to spend all your time working. You can only work so much before you get tired and start to screw up. Then you want to do something else—even something mindless. But you don't regard this time as the prize and the time you spend working as the pain you endure to earn it.
- 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.
- Except for some books in math and the hard sciences, there's no test of how well you've read a book, and that's why merely reading books doesn't quite feel like work. You have to do something with what you've read to feel productive.
- I think the best test is one Gino Lee taught me: to try to do things that would make your friends say wow.
- Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you'd like to like.
- Prestige is just fossilized inspiration. If you do anything well enough, you'll make it prestigious.
- Similarly, if you admire two kinds of work equally, but one is more prestigious, you should probably choose the other. Your opinions about what's admirable are always going to be slightly influenced by prestige, so if the two seem equal to you, you probably have more genuine admiration for the less prestigious one.
- The danger is when money is combined with prestige, as in, say, corporate law, or medicine. A comparatively safe and prosperous career with some automatic baseline prestige is dangerously tempting to someone young, who hasn't thought much about what they really like.
- 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.
- All parents tend to be more conservative for their kids than they would for themselves, simply because, as parents, they share risks more than rewards.
- Although doing great work takes less discipline than people think—because the way to do great work is to find something you like so much that you don't have to force yourself to do it—finding work you love does usually require discipline.
- Is there some test you can use to keep yourself honest? One is to try to do a good job at whatever you're doing, even if you don't like it. Then at least you'll know you're not using dissatisfaction as an excuse for being lazy.
- “Always produce” is also a heuristic for finding the work you love. If you subject yourself to that constraint, it will automatically push you away from things you think you're supposed to work on, toward things you actually like.
- Of course, figuring out what you like to work on doesn't mean you get to work on it. That's a separate question. And if you're ambitious you have to keep them separate: you have to make a conscious effort to keep your ideas about what you want from being contaminated by what seems possible.
Constraints give your life shape. Remove them and most people have no idea what to do: look at what happens to those who win lotteries or inherit money. Much as everyone thinks they want financial security, the happiest people are not those who have it, but those who like what they do. So a plan that promises freedom at the expense of knowing what to do with it may not be as good as it seems.
How I’m applying this
I see the two most important ideas in this article as needing work to be something you not only enjoy but admire and that if you do anything well enough, you’ll make it prestigious (it does not necessarily need prestige to be an inherent part of the role).
I have actually been applying the ‘always produce’ mentality to the work I have done on my projects this year—in fact it has been a key distinction in the progress I have made on this personal site.