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Interesting Work

I used to get frustrated a lot, mostly because I didn’t enjoy my job. I was motivated by the end-goal of success, as Bob Dylan defined it:

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.

As I come closer to achieving this, I’m realizing a few things:

  • I’m inherently lazy**
  • Accomplishing nothing all day makes me feel guilty, not happy
  • Doing interesting work makes me happy (mastery-autonomy-purpose)

Now, I always have interesting work to do. No matter where I am, or what time it is, I can open my computer and create things. I don’t feel pushed to do this, the motivation is intrinsic, because the work is so interesting that I feel pulled towards it. To some extent, anyone can do this.

I’m lucky because I get to work with people who magnify the impact of my work in ways that I never could. For instance:

I helped to write some payment-processing software with a cool user-interface. Somebody else made this happen. It was amazing — I could, at any time, do work that would increase the budget of charitable organizations.

I’m helping to write some software that synchronizes music streaming playlists. Somebody else is making this happen. Life is fun.

I’m no longer motivated (exclusively) by the end-goal of financial independence. I’m genuinely fascinated by the work itself, and I’m fulfilled by having done interesting things all day (that I’m good at, that I learned from, that improve the world). This also aligns with my religious beliefs: all of my actions are a form of worship / thanks / respect for the opportunity to live in this world. That statement feels more authentic these days.

Other thoughts:

Recently, I’ve also enjoyed teaching / mentoring beginners. But, I feel that I need to get an undisputed success under my belt (have some piece of software that I write become incredibly popular) before I give advice to others, though. Perhaps this is unhealthy / incorrect, but it’s how I feel.

I’m constantly debating whether to socialize or work, on any given night. I think this is a healthy internal struggle, so long as the motivation is intrinsic (I want to work). Many people have strong opinions on this, but I prefer to work much more than 40 hrs / wk (for now, anyways).

A few years ago, I always wanted to do everything — I disliked the idea of being put into a box, labeled as a programmer with no soft-skills, and being shielded from all the high-level decision making. As I’ve grown in my career, I’m less threatened by this notion & more excited about working w/ other people & skillsets.

Maybe I’m just doing mental-gymnastics to convince myself that my current life-situation is optimal… nah

** A friend told me to re-word this, but I had trouble doing so concisely. How about: “Whenever I have lots of free time, I spend it on 100 different things, and never see any single 1 of them through. I lack the intrinsic focus that comes from working on exciting things with others.”