Wow this is a FANTASTIC read – drop everything, read it now:
If you think something’s supposed to hurt, you’re less likely to notice if you’re doing it wrong. That about sums up my experience of graduate school.Paul Graham, “How to do what you love”
Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.
Prestige is especially dangerous to the ambitious. 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. It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn’t suck, they wouldn’t have had to make it prestigious.
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
“Always produce” is also 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.
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. Worse still, anything you work on changes you. If you work too long on tedious stuff, it will rot your brain. And the best paying jobs are most dangerous, because they require your full attention.
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. So a plan that promises freedom at the expense of knowing what to do with it may not be as good as it seems.
I pulled those gems so I don’t forget them, but I highly recommend reading the entire essay for yourself, and if you know someone who’s a teen or young adult, make them read it.