Monday, July 12, 2010

"He who aims at nothing hits it every time."

I’ve always been driven to succeed. I spent my senior year of college writing a thesis on implied trinomial trees. I earned a Master's degree from the Courant Institute, ranked #1 in the US for applied mathematics. I had a thriving number-crunching career on Wall Street. Sure, the work was tedious, the hours never-ending, and the people disagreeable. But I could look in the mirror and feel accomplished.

Then, during a night of heavy drinking, it occurred to me that success is overrated. What’s the point of being successful if you dread going to work in the morning and Sunday nights send you spiraling into despair?

Once you’ve decided not to be successful, it’s easy to make it happen. I walked into the office one morning with a promising career and left with nothing but lofty soul-searching ambitions. I had absolutely nothing going for me, but I was ready to find my passion!

It wasn’t long before I succumbed to self-doubt. “What if I’m passionless? Or worse, what if I discover my true passion only to find out that I’m terrible at it?”

That’s the thing about soul-searching. It has a nasty habit of mutating into daytime television watching and eating Oreos with the curtains drawn. Faced with the daunting task of pinning down your life purpose, doing nothing can be extremely enticing. I’ll start researching a particular career path, get discouraged, and spend seven hours unsubscribing from mail-order catalogs and playing Dr. Mario.

It doesn't help that the careers I'm interested in are about as likely as winning the lottery. I find myself thinking, "Lady of leisure sounds doable. I bet I'd be great at it!" Of course, I'd probably feel guilty for not living up to my potential.

I always assumed that soul-searching inevitably led to waking up one morning happy and fulfilled. Um, yeah, apparently I was mistaken. If I've learned anything, it's that soul-searching is not for the faint-of-heart.


  1. Great blog post. Sometimes success is overrated and self-doubt can be very hard to get pass. If you let it self-doubt can block you from doing the things that will make you happier and your life better. I enjoyed reading your blog post.

  2. Wow, what a great post. I can relate to it so much! I feel like it's my life right now. I know what I want... but somehow, my passion starts to become watching seasons upon seasons of TV shows... like the The Bachelor.