Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dreams and Careers

A lot of literature has been written about following one's passion and dreams, which reminds me a lot about my own dreams. I remember reading "The Alchemist" and wanted to be like the boy who followed his dreams. I followed his footsteps and ended up crashing and burning. Is there something wrong about our dreams?

Well the problem is that we dream about superstars and most superstars belong to fields which produce superstars. Your cricket and sports heroes inspire you an motivate you to join their field. So if there are 140 million people and 11 members in a cricket team then its pretty much a matter of luck that you will ever succeed. Everyone would have worked hard but to select 11 requires pure luck.

So, the problem is that we dream about fields which are dominated by power law distributions. Few superstars and plenty of failures e.g. 11 superstar cricketers with thousands of wannabe cricketers who probably are working equally hard.

Here's what I wanted to be:
1) cricketer
2) WWE wrestler
3) A noble prize winner
4) A philosopher and a writer

All of the above should be practiced as a hobby, not as a profession. It's ok to feel like a loser if its your hobby, but not if its your profession. Being a loser in your profession debilitates your life, and failure feeds failure, just like success feeds success. Its called path dependence.

Next time beware if someone tells you to follow your dreams. Do something which has no super stars and no inspirations, that field would be more stable and would reward you better.

Here's a further take on Cal Newport, like his work but he fails to understand superstar careers.

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