The Dilemma of Seeking Fun and Seeking Meaning at Work

By J. Johnson (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Well it’s not a dilemma anymore, as I’ve solved it just now, but wanted to write down my thought process of dealing with the dilemma before I forget.

So basically I’ve kept thinking about the relationship with finding fun and finding meaning in a career since “Getting Hit By A 8,000 Tonne Train… 2 Times“.

The problem I had with where I was in terms of my career was it’s just not optimized for meaning that I want to seek, which for me is making Earth a more sustainable place.

But I’ve realize one thing when I was discussing with the girl I’m seeing, it is status anxiety that’s causing the dilemma.

The reason why I had that epiphany was because, first of all I just read Status Anxiety only a few weeks ago, and second of all it was a sentence the girl I’m seeing said that made me think really hard, which (paraphrased) was “Of course it’s great that passion and meaning can both exist, but if it’s impossible, then the only thing you can do is chase what you’re passionate about and then donate money to atone for your sins, since work really does take up a large part of someone’s life“.

And what am I passionate about? Knowledge accumulation. Just non-stop reading, thinking, learning and having quality conversations.

It’s what I do all the time outside of work.

And that’s what I had a problem with. I had a problem with how other would view me if they knew I spent most of my day just reading, thinking, learning and having quality conversations, only spending very little time actually investing (I have a system that takes away 99% of the manual work required) and not doing much productive work otherwise.

I also had a problem with accumulating knowledge at such a rapid rate, having new insights / ideas through the exponential increase of cross-pollination admist all my knowledge from different fields, yet failing to proportionately give back that knowledge to society or putting it in good use (since investing in public equities really doesn’t have that much social value).

And that’s why I try so hard to find meaning in my work. I seem to focus a lot on finding meaning to justify my objective of an unconventional lifestyle. And that disturbs me, because it means I’m living my life not on my terms but on other people’s terms. I’ve literally got my balls clutched by society’s potential judgment on me.

The good thing about this thought struggle is the clarity it gives me on what motivates me, which is the speed of knowledge accumulation.

If I don’t learn enough, I’m stagnating; and if I stagnate, I’m dying.

If that isn’t fulfilled from my current company, then I will leave for a place that can fulfill it, even if it means worse work life balance and pay.

If there’s no alternative to better speed of knowledge accumulation, I will then look for alternatives of same speed of knowledge accumulation but more meaning.

But if there’s no better alternative in both learning and meaning, I’ll stay put until I’m financially free and just switch to full time hermit mode (read, think, learn, quality conversations) until a better alternative (provided better speed of knowledge accumulation or equal rate knowledge accumulation with more meaning) shows up.

As for Snowball Blessing, I think that’s something I’ll keep doing regardless of career. It’s just something I feel compelled to do considering how it affects all of us if nothing’s done about it.

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