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Research: What Should I Do With My Life?

Back to the Hacker Ethic category

An article appeared in the magazine FastCompany exploring people and their attitudes towards jobs, and what makes you a success. Whilst maintaining a fair bit of focus on financial wellbeing, it does mention several people who found *satisfaction* in jobs elsewhere, even when their previous jobs were mentally stimulating.

Many of the experiences expressed in the article and on ./ imply a "simple openness to everyday participative experience" (Heron, 1997). A successful life seems to be better defined as one which fulfills us, rather than one which makes us happy, or entails large financial gains, as Aristotle suggested, and this fulfillment seems to come from this openness to everyday participation.

"Success is not, IMHO, a function of wealth, but a funciton of independence [to control your job, and life]" (./#4998822). This independence implies participation. "Independence" is perhaps slightly too strong a word, but certainly the ability to participate in your work, to directly affect what work you do, to alter the process of allocating your work, and to alter the way in which your work is perceived by others, can make the job far more satisfying. In normal jobs, this is exceedingly difficult, whilst in volunteer work, it is comparatively easy, especially when the work is a hacker project. Hackers can participate in all four dimensions of their work, making it far more fulfilling than normal jobs.

Our most fulfilling experiences seem to be those in which we participate not only with out own reason/desire/spirit/body, but also with other people, especially in communities, which allows us to immerse ourselves in participation. The body is almost always neglected, especially by hackers, and there are many stories of people quitting a good office job for hard labour, and enjoying it. It's also no coincidence that people suggest you do exercise to keep healthy; "a healthy body means a healthy mind" - and vice versa (!) - suggests that the performance of any of your four faculties depends on the performance of the other three, such that you perform best, and are best fulfilled, when all four of your faculties are healthy.

"Iíve always kind of thought that it didnít really matter what you did to make a living, it's what you did with your time off that made you who you are." (./#4998966). The old attitude towards life, according to the protestant ethic before work started to invade other aspects of our lives. But if you can be fulfilled both in your job and outside it, then that is so much better. To draw such a distinction between work and play, as hackers show, is a mistake, because they can (and should as often as possible) be one and the same thing, and even when not, when one is able to fully participate in your work/play, it becomes fulfilling. So looking at your life as work vs. play is a mistake.

Several people also mentioned that one shouldn?t neglect family because of work, and this shows that we need participation with others, especially communities, and especially those which we can be close enough to to share personal experiences.

It was also pointed out that we shouldn?t neglect money - eudaimonia requires financial wellbeing as well as all the others.

./ blurb:

FastCompany's website has an interesting article about what it means to be successful that I think builds nicely upon a recent Slashdot discussion. That Slashdot thread was about a study that wanted to find out if there is a link between college rejection and success. This new article asks a more basic question that many people struggle with: what does it mean to be successful and how do I achieve it? This article is an excerpt from a new book by Po Bronson which details the personal lives of several people, many of whom are very talented and superficially successful, who switched gears to try to find that 'thing' they are impassioned about. One interesting excerpt that might particularly hit home to the Slashdot community is Bronson's tidbit about a Rockwell manager who left his job because, though it was mentally challenging, lacked a deeper level of gratification. What is this man doing now? He's a cop in East LA.


References:
http://www.fastcompany.com/online/66/mylife.html
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=49509&cid=0&pid=0&startat=&threshold=4&mode=thread&commentsort=0&op=Change
Heron, John and Reason, Peter (1997) A Participatory Inquiry Paradigm, Qualitative Inquiry