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4 Rules for Identifying Your Life’s Work

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/05/how-choose-fulfilling-career/611920/

theatlantic.com

4 Rules for Identifying Your Life’s Work
What shape your professional path should take depends on how you define success.

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Your work is your reward

Your work is your reward

A big mistake many people make in their careers is to treat work as a means to an end, be it money, power, or prestige.

When a career is just a means to an end, the payoff will be unsatisfying. With the right goals - earning your success and serving others - you can make the work itself your reward.

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Choose an interesting career over a fun career

There are two basic types of speeches from commencement speakers: One is to “Go find your purpose.” The other is “Find work you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Scholars refer to two kinds of happiness as hedonic and eudaemonia. Hedonic is about feeling good; eudaemonia is about living a purpose-filled life.

But hedonic alone results in empty pleasure and eudaemonia by itself can become dry. In reality, we need a balance of enjoyable and meaningful. If you find something that genuinely interests you, it will lead to being intensely pleasurable.

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A career doesn’t have to be a straight line

There are four basic career patterns:

  1. Linear careers, which climb steadily upward, such as the "corporate ladder" or the billionaire entrepreneur.
  2. Steady-state careers involve staying at one job and growing in expertise.
  3. Transitory careers are ones in which people jump from job to job or field to field, looking for new challenges.
  4. Spiral careers are like a series of mini careers. People spend many years developing in a profession, then shift fields seeking work that builds on the skills of their previous mini careers.

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Beware of unhealthy passions

  • An unhealthy passion is an obsessive passion, characterised by intense interest, negative mood and low concentration during the activity, and unhappiness when not engaged in the activity.
  • Conversely, a healthy passion, also called "harmonious passion", is characterised by happiness, good concentration and a "flow state" while doing it.

While looking for something in which you are intensely interested, go further and ask "Does this job or career bring out the best in me?"

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Don't follow your passion

The main flaw of  “finding your passion” presupposes that interests and passions are fixed, rather than fluid and evolving as we age and gain wisdom and experience. 

The problem with following your passion

  • It ignores the market. Unless you have a trust fund waiting for you, you’ll have to feed yourself and others. 
  • It will turn a passion into a job. 

Learn from Startups

  1. Identify real needs in the market that are currently not being well met. 
  2. Assess your strengths: Whatever is easy for you that most others have a harder time with, that’s a worthy option.
  3. Match up these two in a constantly iterative process: This process takes many years if not decades.

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When lifelong dreams crumble

When lifelong dreams crumble

All of us have hopes and dreams for the future that become part of our identity. But then reality gets in the way. Your passion may fade, or the obstacles to realising the dream ma...

Come to terms with your decision

As you let go of your dream, you may fear you're making a mistake.

  • There's no calculus for knowing when to give up. If pursuing your dream comes at great personal cost to your relationships and other goals in life (which is different from a 'harmonious passion'), that would suggest it was wise to give it up.
  • Success is not all or nothing. You may not have fulfilled your dream, but you likely learned much along the way, giving you a chance to redirect your energy and passions in new ways.

Goal adjustment capacity

Psychologists see goal adjustment capacity as a beneficial form of 'self-regulation' or 'self-management.'

It contains two parts:

  1. The ability to disengage from fruitless goals
  2. The ability to know when and how to change to new, more productive goals.

Those who are flexible and adaptable are generally happier, perform better. They often get promoted. If you are thinking of giving up your dream, it suggests you have a healthy willingness to adjust and adapt.

The Half-Life of Facts

The Half-Life of Facts

Facts decay over time. And the time it takes to disprove or replace half of it can be predicted.

Data in medicine become half as relevant in 2-3 years. For exact sciences, 2-4 years.

Half life of facts and compound knowledge

If we want our knowledge to compound, we’ll need to focus on the invariant general principles.

Half-lives show us that if we spend time learning something that changes quickly, we might be wasting our time.