How to find the work you would really love to do?
The happiest people are not those who have everything they ever wanted, but are those who love what they do.
But it is not easy to find what you love to do.
Some people know what they want to do even when they are in their infancy, others keep drifting from one thing to another never sure what their calling is.
The problem with drifters is that they are of the view that their purpose is something that will sweep-them-off-their-feet and they will glide through it fulfilling-their-destiny feeling each day on the seventh heaven.
Do you think Mother Teresa felt that way while helping poor and destitute each day of her life?
To do something well you have to like it. That idea is not exactly novel. We’ve got it down to four words: “Do what you love.” But it’s not enough just to tell people that. Doing what you love is complicated.
Paul Graham wrote a great article in 2006, How to Do What You Love. Although the article is directed towards youth to help them find the work they would love to do, it has nuggets for people who are finding their true calling.
According to him:
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.
Paul provides a three-point test to determine whether something is your calling or not.
The first is the prestige test. Is it prestigious work or not?
If it is not and you will still continue to do it, it is your calling.
Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world. If you do anything well enough, you’ll make it prestigious. Plenty of things we now consider prestigious were anything but at first. Jazz comes to mind—though almost any established art form would do. So just do what you like, and let prestige take care of itself.
He goes on to say:
… 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 second is the money test. Will it make you loads of money?
The test is whether you will still continue to do it even if you won’t get paid for it. Even if you will have to work at another job to make a living.
How many doctors or corporate lawyers would do their current work if they had to do it for free, in their spare time, and take day jobs as waiters to support themselves?
It is easy to do unpleasant work, with money and prestige, it is hard to do something for the love of it.
You are beginning to get the picture.
Now comes the third test. It is in just two words, so pay attention.
If you are working in a soul-wretching job and you plan to become a writer, are you producing? Are you writing pages of fiction, however bad? As long as you’re producing, you’ll know you’re not just dreaming but actually working towards your dream. The toil you will put yourself through for no money, no prestige to develop the talent will determine whether the writing is your calling or not.
“Always produce” is 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. “Always produce” will discover your life’s work the way water, with the aid of gravity, finds the hole in your roof.
Experience different things and figure out what you love. Not several things at a time because you will not give yourself enough time to figure out what you like about it, but one thing at a time and really giving it a go.