how to do what you love

Read: Paul Graham – How to Do What You Love

7 questions after reading:

#1) do people actually like the role/profession i’m considering? or are they faking it

“Adults would sometimes come to speak to us about their work, or we would go to see them at work. It was always understood that they enjoyed what they did….The main reason they all acted as if they enjoyed their work was presumably the upper-middle class convention that you’re supposed to. It would not merely be bad for your career to say that you despised your job, but a social faux-pas.”

#2) does this role/profession pass the “that’s wow/cool” test?

“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.”

“…try to do things that would make your friends say wow.”

#3) are other people’s opinions unduly influencing me? or probably more realistically, my perception of other people’s opinions?

“What you should not do, I think, is worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends”

#5) is prestige a primary factor in my decision making? 

“You shouldn’t worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world…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 want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. ”

#6) is money a primary factor in my decision making?

“…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.”

#7) did child-version of me decide that this is work i want to do?

“Don’t decide too soon. Kids who know early what they want to do seem impressive, as if they got the answer to some math question before the other kids. They have an answer, certainly, but odds are it’s wrong.

A friend of mine who is a quite successful doctor complains constantly about her job. When people applying to medical school ask her for advice, she wants to shake them and yell “Don’t do it!” (But she never does.) How did she get into this fix? In high school she already wanted to be a doctor. And she is so ambitious and determined that she overcame every obstacle along the way—including, unfortunately, not liking it.

Now she has a life chosen for her by a high-school kid.”



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