Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Art of the Good Life #16 : Tyranny of a calling

"Few people are as unhappy as those with a talent no one cares about." - John Gray.

The lesson in this chapter is that chasing after a calling is a recipe for a miserable life. Having an over-inflated expectation that we need a particular vocation that stems from something deep inside is a loser's game.

The chapter provides the example of writer John Kennedy Toole, who had his conviction about being a successful writer shaken to the core after numerous rejections from major publishers,  committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. After his death, A Confederacy of Dunces sold millions of copies and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Amazingly, the chapter neglects to offer an alternative to the tyranny of a calling which is provided amply by the works of Vicki Robin in her masterpiece Your Money or Your Life.

It is eminently more practical to view your vocation as a means of exchanging life energy for money.

No matter what we do, we are in essence, trading time for money.

Consider the efficiency of your use of your life energy by figuring out a number with the numerator being your salary minus all expenses associated with your job (such as transport or the cost of looking the part). The denominator consists of the time spent in the office every month plus expenditures of time outside office hours networking to get more business or commuting to the workplace.

If my fellow trainees perform the calculation, some, like myself,  may find that they have a lower efficiency than most domestic workers in Singapore.

Others, such as the financially independent crowd who have a value investing or dividends based focus, will find that they are more efficient with their life energy than members of the Cabinet.

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