When you’re young, it seems like life has two states: work and play.
If we’re going to make kids work on dull stuff, we should at least make it clear to them that they have to do this now so they could work on more interesting stuff later. Otherwise, kids start to get the idea that work = boring.
People usually pretend that they like their job. 1) Because there’s social pressure to do so, and 2) because if you don’t like your job you probably won’t be good at it (and you don’t want others to think that you’re bad at your job).
It’s confusing being a high school kid who starts thinking about their career. On one hand, school has taught you that work = boring. On the other hand, it seems that all these people with jobs really like what they do. It’s frustrating when you can’t find your passion and it seems that everyone around you has no problem doing so.
Kids have been told 3 lies: 1) the stuff they've been taught to regard as work in school is not real work, 2) grownup work is not (necessarily) worse than schoolwork, and 3) many of the adults around them are lying when they say they like what they do.
The most dangerous liars can be the kids' own parents. If you take a boring job to give your family a high standard of living, as so many people do, you risk infecting your kids with the idea that work is boring. Maybe it would be better for kids in this one case if parents were not so unselfish. A parent who set an example of loving their work might help their kids more than an expensive house.
How much are you supposed to like what you do?
To be happy I think you have to be doing something you not only enjoy, but admire. You have to be able to say, at the end, wow, that's pretty cool.
Don’t think about prestige. It might be a good rule simply to avoid any prestigious task. If it didn't suck, they wouldn't have had to make it prestigious.
Don’t be tempted by money either. The test of whether people love what they do is whether they'd do it even if they weren't paid for it—even if they had to work at another job to make a living. How many corporate lawyers would do their current work if they had to do it for free, in their spare time, and take day jobs as waiters to support themselves?
Parents’ advice tends to err on the side of money. Probably because they share the consequences of a bad career decision more than the rewards of a good one.
Of course, figuring out what you like doesn’t mean that you get to work on it. But if you’re ambitious, you have to keep those questions separate (what you like vs. what’s possible).
Often times the main thing that prevents people from doing work that they love is the fact that you have to make a living. There’s basically 2 ways to combat this problem:
Don't decide too soon. Kids who know early what they want to do seem impressive, as if they got the answer to some math question before the other kids. However, they’re usually wrong.