Notes on Paul Graham’s How to Do What You Love

Yet another article on “Doing what you love”, but it has a few good points.1. If you have to like something to do it well, then the most successful people will all like what they do. So people will say they like their jobs even when they hate them.2. How much you love what you do needs to have boundaries. No job is so great that you wouldn’t rather be having sex or enjoying a holiday in the Carribean. So the upper bound is what you’d love doing in the long run, not just right now. The lower bound is that when you have spare time to use, then your first choice is work.3. Jobs with prestige should be avoided. People only make tasks prestigious when no one would want to do them otherwise.4. A test: If you love what you do, then you’d be doing it even if there was no money involved.5. Another test you can use is: always produce. For example, if you have a day job you don’t take seriously because you plan to be a novelist, are you producing? Are you writing pages of fiction, however bad? As long as you’re producing, you’ll know you’re not merely using the hazy vision of the grand novel you plan to write one day as an opiate. The view of it will be obstructed by the all too palpably flawed one you’re actually writing.6. Make a conscious effort to keep seperate the ideas of what you want from what is currently possible. The gap will be huge, and you’ll have to stare failure in the eye every day for years before it starts narrowing. People often aren’t strong enough to do this, so they drop what they want and assume “I can’t” instead.Link

2006.01.19