Do what you find interesting.

Note: This sounds scarily like the writing of a guru, and I apologize for that. In the last year, I have spent much of my time working through these thoughts. I wrote this piece for myself; to hold myself accountable and to continue growing. I hope you find it helpful.

Everyone is looking for meaning. To find their purpose. To discover their “why.” 

But is this the right way to live?

Searching for the meaning and purpose is simply a way of compensating for the fact that we aren’t happy where we’re at in life and what we’re doing. It’s a way of finding relief from the monotony of the 9-5 that you work, escaping from the toxic workplace culture you’re mired in, or forgetting for a moment about the busy work that your boss assigned you to finish that week. 

Instead of searching for meaning, do what you find interesting. The meaning will follow. 

The reason for this is simple: cognitive dissonance leaves us tired, angry, and dissatisfied. The times where my actions have strayed from what “I believed” have been the times when I have struggled the most. 

For example, you might be extremely interested in generative art. But instead of following your passion, you become a patent lawyer for the status and the money that comes along with it. You follow this hyper-mimetic career path, not because it’s what you want to do, but because you think society wants you to do it. You are deceiving yourself that this is your “calling," and as a result are dissatisfied and lacking motivation.

Sadly, too many people take this path. They don’t think for themselves. As a result, they are destined for mediocrity and underperformance. No matter how smart you are, unless you are truly passionate about what you do, you will never become the best in the world at it. 

I have by no means solved this problem for myself, but am on a journey to eliminate the cognitive dissonance that I experience. The level of self-awareness and self-examination this takes is both exhausting and exhilarating. Without understanding what you want in life, you can’t reach your ceiling. 

If you are like me and don’t know where to start, I’d suggest working backwards. It’s far easier to eliminate the things that cause you anxiety, fear, dread, and lethargy. Cut those out of your life. Then, when that’s done, ask yourself those hard personal questions that you have been avoiding. 

Find what inspires you, what makes your eyes light up, and what you can spend 20 hrs a day doing. Then go do it!