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4 Rules for Identifying Your Life’s Work

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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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.
Harmonious passion

It is a state of being where you are entirely absorbed in what you are doing, known as flow by modern psychological science, productive activity by humanist philosopher Erich From...

Obsessive passion

Setting a goal and doing everything possible to pursue it is a great feeling.
However, often it is the very striving to be great that gets in the way of actually being great.

The richer experience

When we are young and insecure, passion or striving often manifest as looking ahead and craving external validation (becoming a champion or lawyer or millionaire or whatever).

If we gain wisdom, the energy of our passion and striving becomes less about achieving the goal and more about where you are on the journey at present. It is about having a richer experience of the present moment. With this as a focus, you are more likely to achieve success.

Setting career goals: take the initiative
Setting career goals: take the initiative

Don’t wait for someone else (your boss or mentor) to ask you what your goals are. Take the initiative and draft your professional goals independently.

  • Review your current sta...
Evaluate your business value
  • Think about what you bring to the table. Knowing what you do well will also help you decide the things you should work on.
  • Don't focus only on the skills that benefit you. Go for the intersection between goals that serve you and your employer or client.
  • Keep you goals SMART. This technique helps you set goals that are specific (S), measurable (M), attainable (A), relevant (R) and timely (T).
Your career goals should challenge you

Be pragmatic, but don’t be afraid to take risks.

Try to make your goals ambitious but achievable. Even if you don’t meet your goal in the time you devote to them, you can re-evaluate and try again.