I took an interview today.
During the course of the interview, I came to learn that the candidate’s passion was yoga, and she wanted to open a practice of her own. Why don’t you start? I asked her. I cannot right now – she said.
Reminded me of the famous essay by Paul Graham. How to do what you love…
It actually is more difficult than you think. For starters – what do you love to do? Much like our ‘favorite’ subject in school kept changing as we went through grades – from astronaut to physicist to astrophysicist before settling on Bachelor of Engineering (yours truly), what we like also changes as we go through our careers.
Very few of us are fortunate enough to know what we want very early in life. By the time we know it…it usually is too late to change course.
As Paul pointed out, it doesn’t help that we are conditioned to disassociate fun and work. We have been taught to get chores done in time so that we can go out and play (have fun ). It doesn’t get better when you grow up. Get your chores done in time so that you can get money, to have fun and sustain your livelihood. Maybe this is why many people pretend to like what they do, because well, if you have to do it, might as well try to enjoy 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. It would not merely be bad for your career to say that you despised your job, but a social faux-pas.
Here is where it gets past the point when you stop trying to do what you really want to do, because you get into the comfort zone and basically resign yourself to the fate of the career that you are too deep in to get out.
And that is why you have investment bankers who want to start a restaurant, and compliance officers who want to be yoga instructors.
What’s the solution? I don’t kid you on this – it isn’t as simple as saying – oh great, I love this and so let me dump my well-paying settled job and jump right in. That would be foolishness. The first step is in finding out what you love to do. What you can do without the money factor being the primary focus. Then, find out if you really are good at it. It’s nice to have dreams of starting a cafe, but do you really know what goes into it, and if you have the capability and the patience (and a solid idea, since there are a zillion cafes all around the place).
And once these two questions are answered, then take the baby steps towards it. Until you are financially secure and ready to make that side hustle your main source of income. That is when the journey really starts:)
श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुण: परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात् ।
स्वभावनियतं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम् ॥ ४७ ॥
śreyān sva-dharmo viguṇaḥ
kurvan nāpnoti kilbiṣam
It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are never affected by sinful reactions.
Bhagavad Gita 18.47