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Don’t Do What You Love

It’s graduation season and that means that lots of young people around the country are getting job advice. And these armies of young people will inevitably hear a refrain that has become all too constant in recent years: “do something you love”. But you know what – this advice is total BS. And it is helping to steer this army of young people into believing that earning an income is as easy as finding something you love.

The reality is that the economy doesn’t reward people for doing something THEY love. It rewards people who do something that OTHER people love. I wish I could run on the beach all day or travel for the rest of my life. But the problem is that no one wants to pay me to do these things because they are inherently selfish actions. They don’t add value to anyone but myself.  In other words, they are actions that are not valuable to other economic participants. The things we truly love are usually much more valuable to OURSELVES than they are to OTHER people. And that’s why doing what you love is crummy financial advice.

In my book I stressed the importance of creating valuable output. I said:

“Capitalists serve themselves best when they serve others”

The best capitalists are problem solvers. They don’t just do what they love. They solve problems that other people love them for solving. These problems aren’t always glamorous or enjoyable. But few things are more enjoyable and rewarding than being showered with praise (and money) because you helped solve someone else’s problems and helped make their lives easier.

So, young people – don’t go out there and do what you love. Do something that other people will love you for doing. It might not be instantaneously rewarding or glamorous, but if you can become an important element in adding real value to other people’s lives the rewards will come with time.