To do something well you have to like it

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Good Essay: How to do what you love.

Will just post the extract that I liked and what I would like to highlight.

  • To do something well you have to like it.
  • The main reason they all acted as if they enjoyed their work was presumably the upper-middle class convention that you’re supposed to.
  • By the time they reach an age to think about what they’d like to do, most kids have been thoroughly misled about the idea of loving one’s work
  • Work still seemed to require discipline, because only hard problems yielded grand results, and hard problems couldn’t literally be fun.
  • Here’s an upper bound: Do what you love doesn’t mean, do what you would like to do most this secondBut the fact is, almost anyone would rather, at any given moment, float about in the Carribbean, or have sex, or eat some delicious food, than work on hard problems.The rule about doing what you love assumes a certain length of time.
  • Unproductive pleasures pall eventually. After a while you get tired of lying on the beach. If you want to stay happy, you have to do something.
  • As a lower bound, you have to like your work more than any unproductive pleasure
  • To be happy I think you have to be doing something you not only enjoy, but admire.
  • What you should not do, I think, is worry about the opinion of anyone beyond your friends.Prestige is the opinion of the rest of the world.
  • That’s what leads people to try to write novels, for example. They like reading novels. They notice that people who write them win Nobel prizes.
  • If you want to make ambitious people waste their time on errands, the way to do it is to bait the hook with prestige. That’s the recipe for getting people to give talks, write forewords, serve on committees, be department heads, and so on.

I somehow am reminded of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. I mean, by his accepting President’s post, he or the post gained nothing. If any, it increased the value of the position. But if he remained scientist for 5 years, he or nation would have achieved something.

  • The other big force leading people astray is money.
  • The test of whether people love what they do is whether they’d do it even if they weren’t paid for it– even if they had to work at another job to make a living.
  • How many even discover something they love to work on? A few hundred thousand, perhaps, out of billions.It’s hard to find work you love; it must be, if so few do.
  • In fact, if you admit to yourself that you’re discontented, you’re a step ahead of most people, who are still in denial.
  • More often people who do great things have careers with the trajectory of a ping-pong ball. They go to school to study A, drop out and get a job doing B, and then become famous for C after taking it up on the side.

Oh! So many examples I can recall!

  • Sometimes jumping from one sort of work to another is a sign of energy, and sometimes it’s a sign of laziness.
  • Plenty of people who will later do great things seem to be disappointments early on, when they’re trying to find their niche.

Lot of hope 🙂

  • One is to try to do a good job at whatever you’re doing, even if you don’t like it. Then at least you’ll know you’re not using dissatisfaction as an excuse for being lazy. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll get into the habit of doing things well.
  • Another test you can use is: always produce.
  • Are you writing pages of fiction, however bad?


  • you have to make a conscious effort to keep your ideas about what you want from being contaminated by what seems possible.
  • It’s painful to keep them apart, because it’s painful to observe the gap between them. So most people pre-emptively lower their expectations.
  • if you took a random person off the street and somehow got them to work as hard as they possibly could at drawing for the next twenty years, they’d get surprisingly far. But it would require a great moral effort; it would mean staring failure in the eye every day for years.
  • Another related line you often hear is that not everyone can do work they love– that someone has to do the unpleasant jobs.
  • Most unpleasant jobs would either get automated or go undone if no one were willing to do them.
  • One has to make a living, and it’s hard to get paid for doing work you love. There are two routes to that destination:

    the organic route: as you become more eminent, gradually to increase the parts of your job that you like at the expense of those you don’t.

    the two-job route: to work at things you don’t like to get money to work on things you do.

  • The two-job route has several variants depending on how long you work for money at a time. At one extreme is the “day job,” where you work regular hours at one job to make money, and work on what you love in your spare time. At the other extreme you work at something till you make enough not to have to work for money again.

Working what you love in spare time and regular day time job is known as Sex and Cash theory.(page 13 in the pdf).

  • Life tends to get more expensive as you get older, so it’s easy to get sucked into working longer than you expected at the money job.And the best paying jobs are most dangerous, because they require your full attention.
  • Which route should you take? That depends on how sure you are of what you want to do, how good you are at taking orders, how much risk you can stand, and the odds that anyone will pay (in your lifetime) for what you 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.

I am constantly being worried of this. I see people having very clear goals early on. And main aisa kyon hoon…

  • Now she has a life chosen for her by a high-school kid.
  • When you’re young, you’re given the impression that you’ll get enough information to make each choice before you need to make it. But this is certainly not so with work.
  • So unless you’re fairly sure what you want to do, your best bet may be to choose a type of work that could turn into either an organic or two-job career.


  • If you work hard at being a bond trader for ten years, thinking that you’ll quit and write novels when you have enough money, what happens when you quit and then discover that you don’t actually like writing novels?
  • Constraints give your life shape. Remove them and most people have no idea what to do: look at what happens to those who win lotteries or inherit money. Much as everyone thinks they want financial security, the happiest people are not those who have it, but those who like what they do.
  • Whichever route you take, expect a struggle. Finding work you love is very difficult. Most people fail.
  • If you know you can love work, you’re in the home stretch, and if you know what work you love, you’re practically there.
  • anything you work on changes you.


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