Here’s 10,000 Hours. Don’t Spend It All in One Place.
Brooks then tackles the key issue which scares talented people away from becoming generalists – lower earnings due to lack of laser-like focus on a specific career: “My students often point out that pursuing a dual career might put them on a lower earnings trajectory than throwing themselves single-mindedly into just one thing…not everyone has the luxury of choosing lower pay. Still, you might be better able to afford a dual career than you imagine: Some economists and investment planners believe that many Americans overestimate how much money they need. Lots of research—and human experience—shows how easily wants become needs, resulting in the relentless pursuit of maximum income, which won’t make you happier.
If one of your interests has no earnings potential at all, you can still pursue it with passion….you can pursue an avocation in a serious way—in other words, work hard and play hard. Research has found that a high level of commitment to a hobby makes leisure time significantly more satisfying.
Your interest can also take the form of serious study, whether or not formal classes are involved. My father, a mathematics professor, was every bit as absorbed in his avocational interest in fossils and human origins as he was in his professional career. New hominid discoveries were as likely to be dinnertime conversation as Fermat’s Last Theorem. He never made a dime off his Neanderthal pals, but they lit him up like nothing else, and he knew as much as many paleoanthropologists.”
Brooks’ essay concludes with the point that all of us have to ask ourselves whether we want to have a fulfilling life or whether we are simply focused on being “successful”: “In addition, to being fun and making you happy, a commitment to multiple skills can make you better at each of them……you…can conduct your life in two meters at once, creating playful clashes, cheerful dissonances, and unanticipated harmonies. You might not be the next great composer of music…you can compose a fulfilling life.”