If you’re fortunate enough to have your basic needs met, what do you do next?
There are two overarching approaches to this problem. The first is to think about what you want to do and to do that. The second is to think about what you are best positioned to contribute to what other people need or want and to do that.
Taking the first approach gives you the short term happiness of doing what you want. However, just because you’re doing what you want doesn’t mean that this is what you are best positioned to contribute to other people. Other people may not want what you’re doing as a category, or they may not need what you’re doing coming from you due to others doing it just as well or better. Long term value and happiness is produced from doing things that people need or want which can’t be done by other people. So just doing what you want may but is highly unlikely to coincide with long term value and happiness.
If you instead do what you are best positioned to contribute to what other people need or want, it may take some time for you to get adjusted to in the short term because you’re not doing exactly what you want. However, since we’re creatures of habit, if what you’re doing isn’t a radical departure from your character preferences, you’ll eventually get used to what you’re doing such that what you’re doing will also likely develop into what you want to do. And when the long term comes around, you’ll be rewarded with value and happiness.
Also published on Medium.