Yes, it’s weird, but it’s true. Some people say that you should find out what you’re good at and focus your energies on that. In The 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss says that when you focus your energies on your strongest qualities, you can become exceptionally good at those things. Focus your energies on your weaknesses and you can only hope to be mediocre at best. He says that it’s better to be fantastic at a couple of things than to be average at a lot of things.
To a certain extent, I agree, but it’s not the path that I decided to take. Instead, I decided to go with what interested me and it just so happened that the subject that interested me the most was the one where I was receiving the worst grades. By contrast, my best grades were coming from the subjects that bored me and sparked absolutely zero interest from me. And you know what? I’m glad I did what I did.
As I briefly mentioned yesterday, I am an alumnus from the University of British Columbia here in Vancouver. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts a little over two years ago. After some thought and consideration at the end of my first year there, I went with a Psychology Major and an English Literature Minor. You may sound surprised to hear that, considering that the material I learned in psychology, while interesting, helps me very little as a freelance writer (at least on a day-to-day basis). That’s what I get for being a little unconventional.
Life is too short. If I decided to major in my best subject, I probably would have never started this blog. I’d be a mathematician, an economist, or an accountant. In first-year calculus at UBC, I got grades well north of 90%. In first-year economics, I believe I received a 95. By contrast, I was in the 70s for Psychology. Respectable, perhaps, but far from exceptional. This was because first-year Psychology had a lot of rote memorization and I suck at that; I’m a concept learner. It was only later on that I got to explore theories on a more independent basis, examining different phenomena from unique perspectives. But I digress.
For me, it’s better to zero in on the things that you enjoy rather than things for which you may have a particularly strong aptitude. I liked to write (and I still do). I was fascinated by the workings of the human mind (and I still am). I was enthralled by the amazing literature produced by such legendary authors as William Wordsworth, William Shakespeare, and Wyndham Lewis. That’s how I came to major in Psychology and minor in English Literature. People forget that university is just as much (if not more) about personal exploration and expression as it is about preparing you for a career. Want a good paying job quickly? Maybe you should consider trades.
Finding motivation isn’t as hard as some may lead you to believe. You just have to find a way to do what you love and get paid for it. It may not be richly rewarding or entirely satisfying all the time, but it sure beats dragging your feet to a job you hate just because you happen to be good at it. At least, that’s what I think.
On a side note, I’d like to thank Darren Barefoot for the topic suggestion. This post is a variation on #13 and #28 of his list.