As academics, we can often get stuck working on projects that we care little about. No different than non-academic jobs– except that, somehow, there is a larger expectation that we do care about what we’re working on. We’re not supposed to be monkeys working for the man– we’re supposed to be intellectual monks in a modern world, feverishly pursuing further knowledge. Okay, maybe not monks, but you get the idea.
Yet we do get stuck doing projects that we care little about– or occasionally heartily despise. A few of these projects won’t hurt you; maybe they’ll even build a little character, who knows? But consistently working on projects that we loathe, or see little point in, isn’t good for our happiness, mind, or motivation.
Dave Cheong has an excellent post about choosing things that you love doing and admire. His emphasis is on the second part of this equation.
He says, “Why do you have to admire what you do or the people doing it? If you only love what you do (and not admire it), then you may end up doing the wrong thing… If there is nothing to admire, why change? What’s the incentive to become better?”