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From Derek Sivers as he speaks about people searching for their “purposes” or “passion”.

When we’re actually engaged in the flow of fascinating work, we don’t think in these terms. The task at hand fills our mind. The task itself is what keeps us up all night, not some extracted story of purpose.

Years ago my business almost died because I followed my “passion”. I had a bit of success coaching people on YouTube and bought into the huckster rhetoric that if I just did what I loved success would manifest itself. Positive psychology hucksters and “productivity gurus” stick with this happiness rhetoric because it lets them convince you that if you don’t manifest your adversity into success, it’s a personal failing[1]. Plus when you fail, they have a “pro” course or special coaching that will help you learn to manifest your success.

The only ones being successful in that realm are the ones selling you courses on how to be successful.

Happiness rhetoric also lets the few successful people tell themselves the lie that the “poor” people who purchase their courses are being inspired by their success[2].

The lie of meritocracy isn’t far off the scam that is happiness gurus. Meritocracy presumes that everyone starts with an equal chance at success and it’s the fault of your decisions if you didn’t make it. They’d discount the fact that a middle-aged white dude can get away with pretty much anything, while my successful friend who is from a local First Nation (Indian) regularly gets pulled over and asked how they afford a nice car and where the drugs are.

I think what Derek Sivers misses above is that only a very few people have the chance to sit down and pursue something so interesting that the task fills their minds. Most people have to work a job they don’t particularly love, for not quite enough money, to purchase a bunch of crap that will break and need to be purchased again. The idea that you can lose yourself in your work because it’s just so damn interesting is an idea that is only viable for a small portion of the population.

Plus, sometimes a job is just a job. The lie that your work must be the most fulfilling thing you do is a recipe for your employer to treat you like shit because your job is so fulfilling. It’s a recipe for them to tell you work is like family when they want you to work more, but if you get cancer they’re not paying you for years as you’re sick and helping you pay off medical debt. It’s only family when your job needs something from you. When you need something from work, it’s just business and you’re not supposed to take it personally.

I find my programming work stimulating and I enjoy getting paid well for it, but it’s just a job. I don’t think that slinging PHP is my calling or a purpose in my life. It’s a job that pays well and lets me have free time to fix my house ride bikes and bake with my kids.

  • [1] Manufacturing Happy Citizens Pg 10
  • [2] Manufacturing Happy Citizens Pg 46

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