Do what you can’t not do

I really wish I’d gotten to attend Merlin Mann and John Gruber’s SXSW talk on blogging for a living. Mann posits that the successful formula is: obsession plus voice. It reminds me of what I usually tell people who are wondering what kind of career they pursue, which is: do the thing that you can’t not do.

There’s a lot of misguided career advice out there that suggests doing what you “love”. But there are a lot of people who love to do something but would no longer love it if they were forced to do it for 2,000 hours a year. Loving to cook and wanting to stand in a restaurant kitchen for 11 hours a day are two different things.

So my suggestion would be find a way to get paid to do the thing you can’t stop yourself from doing. The best programmers are people who can’t stop programming. The best writers are people who find themselves wanting to write when they’re doing other things. Do what comes naturally.

I can say for certain that it’s a lot easier to get up in the morning and go to work if what you do at work is what you gravitate toward regardless of whether or not you get paid to do it. That’s more likely to be driven by compulsion than love. Go with it.