Generalizing from me and people I know, the preeminent challenges in the lives of educated financially-stable folks are (1) finding sustainable true love, and (2) finding meaningful work. Which of these predominates depends on the individual and what stage of life he or she is in.
As far as problems go, these are relatively “good” ones. But they are problems nonetheless. And solving them both – that is, finding meaningful work that allows one enough time to find, cultivate, and nurture a sustainable true love – is the First World Holy Grail.
I won’t sit here and say that I’m even close to having the path to the Holy Grail mapped out. I don’t have the age or the track record to credibly make that claim. But I do think I’ve figured out a few angles that make getting to the Grail more likely than if one were to just charge blindly into the hills after it. Here are some of them:
- Learn and accept yourself. And then be willing to share that self. This is ~50% of the battle.
- Keep a loose grip. On your goals. On your ideas of who you are, who you’re supposed to be, and how life should work out. On everything but your integrity.
- Acknowledge and accept tradeoffs. Having it all is a crock. Time and energy are finite resources, and devoting yourself to one thing means neglecting something else. Figure out your values and priorities so that you can budget yourself accordingly.
- Take calculated risks. Sometimes to get where you want to go you have to jump over a cliff. Do it. Just make sure you do the math on the distance and wind resistance and how fast you need to go and all that stuff first.
- Be process- rather than outcome-oriented. If you enjoy and find value in the work itself, whether you achieve the desired result matters much less, which helps you keep going in the face of failure. And speaking of failure…
- Use it. Figure out what you did wrong. Figure out how to correct it for next time. Then move on to next time.
- Listen to Max. He won’t steer you wrong.
Given the number of self-referential links in this post, I guess I’ve stumbled upon what this blog is about: the pursuit of the Holy Grail.
Or, to put it in more familiar, less-Dan Brownish terms, the Pursuit of Happiness.
Happiness as the Holy Grail. Sounds about right to me.