I’ve been thinking a lot about life lately–specifically about what, if anything, gives it meaning. I’ve been enumerating the things in my life that matter to me, and then looking at why they matter. This has brought me to the simple question of: what am I doing because I have to vs. what do I do because I love it.
On the surface this is a very easy question and answer, but if you look a bit deeper you’ll find that things begin to blur.
I, for example, love my job. I’m a senior information security engineer with a Fortune 200 company, and I literally obsess over the line of work I’ve chosen. It’s a passion for me, above and beyond just trying to be good at my job.
But is this my identity? Or, given the answer of yes, should it be? That’s the type of question I’m dealing with here–a true look at what it means to be you.
Start at the Beginning
One really good way to begin this exploration is to list the things you would do if you didn’t have to work. So, if money were no option, how would you spend your time? Here’s a thrust at mine:
- Reading: all the classics, blogs, best-sellers, everything
- Writing: blogging, essays, books, etc.
- Studying: I’d be a perpetual college student
- Teaching: I’d give talks, and perhaps become a professor
- Traveling: all over the world, on a regular basis
- Most importantly, I’d do my best to do these things with my friends and other smart people
These are me. These are what I’m about. Everything else enables me to do these things better, or else I’m doing something wrong. And that’s the problem: I need to make sure I’m not focusing too much energy on things that don’t lead to these ends.
I’ll write more on this later, but the important point is that if you can’t tell the difference between the things you do for pleasure and the things you do to enable those activities, then you have a fundamental problem. ::