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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 13-Jan-19


Sunday 13-January-19

In making a life, do what you must -- but ensure it is LSD!

I wanted to life advice to my son, wondering what to say. Children can be so naive, especially in these millennial times where they have been given so much and expect so much more. We tried to make their lives safer and give them more education and opportunity, yet their decisions may not always be as wise as we had hoped. How do you teach wisdom? That's a puzzle and a half.

My first advice was that there are three things you want from a job:

  1. That it is something you enjoy doing
  2. That it is something that you are able to do
  3. That it is something that somebody will pay you enough money to do

In other words:

  1. Do what you like
  2. Do what you can
  3. Do what you must

Seems straightforward, but even this simple list has multiple issues. Doing what you enjoy can spoil that enjoyment. My daughter is a wonderful artist, yet works as a business consultant. Her reasoning is that she would not enjoy painting for commissions. She sees art as expression of the moment, not a job where you are do as you are told. She also realized that she would be lucky to make a living wage in this profession. So she took up something that she was good at (number 2) and paid her well (number 3). She sorted number 1 in her head, finding ways to enjoy the work (and she really does).

The dilemma that children may face when looking at this list is that they prioritise it from 1 to 3. They first want to do what they enjoy. My son really enjoys painting and dreamed about being a graphic artist, but he eventually realized that other people were more talented in this area and so stepped back from the dream. Yes, he could have worked his 10,000 hours or so (and he certainly had a go at this) but he could see that, while he made progress, he would still face stiff competition for jobs in this area. And so with different motivation from his sister, he must find his way. I don't compare them - they are just different folks on different paths. Whatever their routes, I hope they both can look back in old age with some satisfaction about what they have achieved.

The sad fact of many lives is that people do what they must. They don't particularly like their jobs, but they do them because they have obligations to their families, partners and, ultimately, themselves. This is where my son finds himself at the moment. So, given that he must do what he must to get by, what advice should I give? In the end, I added the rider of LSD. Do what you must, but don't break the rules, don't do things that could harm yourself, and be a kind and thoughtful citizen. The LSD rule is hence 'Do what you must, but make sure it is Legal, Safe and Decent.

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