The value of liking what you do
We have a duty to find that which resonates
Here's a spicy take: complacency is fundamentally irresponsible; we each must find an undertaking that we enjoy and figure out how to do it in service of others. Before the pitchforks and torches come out, let me qualify this statement: if your physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual well-being is at risk because of life circumstances, those take precedence. The thing is, however, we will never be entirely ready. The circumstances will never be perfect for you to take the optimal first step to find your calling. In the face of adversity, we must figure out how to best contribute to the world; if not for you, do it for everyone else. The question then seems to be, how can we each find the right task to undertake?
Those who have made a meaningful impact in the lives of many seem to have one trait in common: staying power. They work at something tirelessly, and after long enough, the fruits of their labor are realized. Compound interest is an amazing thing that is hard to wrap our heads around; If you stick to a hobby for a year, you improve a certain amount. However, if you stick to it for another year, you won't just be twice as good, you'll be much better than that; your competence compounds over time. This is why someone experienced in a field can learn similar but unfamiliar skills faster than someone without any prior experience. What, then, keeps us from sticking it out for the long term?
When you begin a new undertaking, there is this thing called the plateau of latent potential; this is the period when you start doing something new and you see no results. This period is understandably disappointing; it is disheartening to give time and energy to something that feels like a waste. This plateau is the reason why we tend to quit after trying to learn a new language or play the guitar. There are two ways to get past this inevitable obstacle: discipline, or a genuine enjoyment of the undertaking. Not only do people who enjoy a task surpass the plateau of latent potential, getting to see the fruits of their labor, but they often outperform those whose only tool is discipline; when you truly enjoy something, you can work on it around the clock and it doesn't feel like work.
How, then, can we each find something that we enjoy for its own sake? I think that the best way to go about this is to both explore and exploit. Exploration is the period where we try a bunch of different undertakings, and exploitation is delving deeper into those things that we tried and were drawn to. I don't think that we take the exploration period seriously enough nowadays. Very few people find something that deeply resonates with them before the age of 18 when we typically lock ourselves into a career path and many of those who do find something later realize that they guessed wrong. I encourage you all to continue in the pursuit of your "thing."
The world is filled with suffering, large and small. I think that a noble aim for each of us is to figure out how to ameliorate as much of that suffering as we are able. The question then follows: what thing can we each do to ameliorate the most suffering? I believe that applying the fruits of our respective gifts, that thing that we love doing, affords us all the best chance of making the world a better place.
There is immense value in finding an undertaking that brings you joy. Be wary of prematurely surrendering this aim.
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