Notes from “4 Rules for Identifying Your Life’s Work” by Arthur Brooks

2 minute read

4 Rules for Identifying Your Life’s Work – from The Atlantic by Arthur Brooks – summarising what I loved:

Arthur gives this advice to every graduating student (& his own son):   

“Find your marshmallow”

The Marshmallow experiment (in the image below).

Result: “Good things come to those who wait—and work, and sacrifice, and maybe even suffer”

But hey, what did you sacrifice/suffer for? What’s your marshmallow? 🎶

Rule 1, is to not have career which is just means to end. Do something that you love, which gives you fulfilment (heck it’s even my Twitter cover picture!). As Naval often says, it’s important to align your ‘personal rewards’ w/ your ‘moral goals’ – and bingo! 

Rule 2, talks about “finding purpose” in your work / vs it being ‘just’ fun. I added the ‘just’ of course, since I am a big believer in having fun while at it.  

But yes, finding purpose aka “aligning your work to a mission” changes how you look at your everyday. I live that.

Rule 3 says don’t have a ‘linear’ career (the popular tech party, the corporate ladder, etc etc).

There are other forms too: Steady-state: staying at one job & growing in expertise Transitory: jump from job to job/ even field to field, looking for new challenges.

Spiral careers: series of mini careers, where “people spend many years developing in a profession, then shift fields seeking not just for novelty, but for work that builds on skills of their previous mini careers” The author’s own career 👇 (image below) seems Spiral too 🙂

And Rule 4, talks about “obsessive passion” in your work. Do you need it?

I 100% believe you do.

The only way to! Author says ‘it depends’, and connects it with ‘are you happy’. Kind of don’t agree with this point too much. But yea.  

So what’s your marshmallow?

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