I’ve been pleased with our discussion here over the past couple days. Many of you have contributed valuable insights about education and careers. I always tell people that Get Rich Slowly has the best readers — your thoughtful comments continue to impress me. Thank you.
Other people have made fine additions to the conversation at their own sites. At All Financial Matters, Meg argues that loving your job is overrated. I believe that she’s correct, to some extent. It’s possible to find fulfillment outside a job you love through dedication and the pursuit of quality. (But I still say it’s good to pursue your dreams.)
Elsewhere, Noah talks about how not to find work that you love. He shares mistakes he has made, including a belief that education might be the answer. Similarly, Bohemian Revolution explains what to do if you can’t find a job you love.
It’s all too easy, sometimes to convince myself that “fulfillment” and “financial security” are one in the same. In my worst moments I fall into fantasies of a golden prize that lies somewhere just ahead — a definitively measurable accomplishment that will eradicate all financial concerns and deliver a conclusive feeling of Success (with a capital “s”). Sometimes the fantasy is seeing my book title on the New York Times Bestseller list. Sometimes it’s having one of my novels adapted for a major motion picture.
But in my clearest, most truthful moments, I know fulfillment is to be found by recognizing something simpler and more profound. I guess you could put it this way: My destiny is already unfolding around me. What I want to happen is happening now. I’m a published novelist and am living my life as a writer. My continuing struggles — rather than undermining my achievements — are reminders that it’s all for real. I’m working, actively working, at the thing that fulfills me most. I was lucky, early on, to find some wise words in the Bhagavad Gita. They’ve helped to guide me for years now:
“Be intent on action, not on the fruits of action. Avoid attraction to the fruits and attachment to inaction.”
For me, that’s what fulfillment means: sitting down at the desk and working, every day.
After two days of thinking about this subject, I find myself returning to the maxim that guides my life: Do what works for you.
While there are general rules of thumb — education increases income potential, happiness can be derived from meaningful employment — it’s important to realize that nothing is true in every case. What works for me may not work for you. The most important thing is to find a path through life that brings you happiness and fulfillment.
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