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How to Do What You Love

Doing what you love is complicated

As kids, playing was described as fun while work was pretty much defined as not-fun. In school, it was implied that work was monotonous because it was in preparation for grownup work. Grownups all agreed that grownup work was worse and that kids had it easy in school.

This is why it can take people years to understand that work can literally be fun.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How to Do What You Love

How to Do What You Love

http://www.paulgraham.com/love.html

paulgraham.com

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Key Ideas

Doing what you love is complicated

As kids, playing was described as fun while work was pretty much defined as not-fun. In school, it was implied that work was monotonous because it was in preparation for grownup work. Grownups all agreed that grownup work was worse and that kids had it easy in school.

This is why it can take people years to understand that work can literally be fun.

Bounds

Keep in mind this question: How much are you supposed to enjoy what you do? If you underestimate your answer, you'll tend to stop searching too early.

Liking your work does not mean doing what makes you happiest in this second, but what will make you most satisfied over a more extended period, like a week or a month. Your work should be your favorite thing to do. It should be something you admire.

What you should not do

  • Don't worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends.
  • Don't worry about prestige. Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world. If you do anything well enough, you'll make it prestigious.
  • Don't be led astray by money, especially when money is combined with prestige.

A test of whether you love what you do is if you would do it even if you weren't paid for it. (Even if you had to work at another job to make a living.)

Discipline

Although doing work you love takes less discipline, finding work you love does usually require discipline.

  • Plenty of successful people did things that seemed to be disappointing until they found their niche.
  • Try to get into the habit of always doing a good job at whatever you're doing, regardless of enjoyment.
  • Always produce. 

The Two Routes

  • The organic route: As you become more respected in your sphere, you gradually increase the parts of your job that you like at the expense of those you don't. This route is more common, but also slow and uncertain without the promise of real freedom.
  • The two-job route: Work at things you don't like to get money to work on things you do. This route is a deliberate choice and riskier. You might end up working for a longer period because of increased living costs. However, you have more freedom of choice.

Finding what you love to do

When you're deciding what to do, you have to operate on incomplete information. 

  • Unless you are fairly sure what to do, choose a type of work that could turn into either an organic or two-job career.
  • Early on, seek jobs that let you do many different things, so you can learn faster what various kinds of work are like.
  • Regardless of what route you take, expect a struggle. Finding work you love is very difficult. But if you have a destination in view, you'll be more likely to reach it.

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