Three Longs & Three Shorts

What makes a fulfilling career? Ask a teenager

Author: Janan Ganesh
Source: Financial Times (

Featured in the 24th March edition of 3L&3S

When we are young, we want to do something creative, something fun in our lives. As we grow older, other considerations kick in and often we find ourselves stuck in a career which is anything but fun & creative. Janan Ganesh delves into why this happens and what we can do stop the next generation getting caught in the same rat race.
“The bitterest divide among working people I know is not money, even though their incomes now range from well south of the national average to the tens of millions. It is the extent to which they are able to express themselves in their work…Those who cannot are apt to lose themselves in the extramural with an avidity that only makes me wonder at what they must be escaping. Beyond a certain level of material comfort…people start casting restlessly around for opportunities to create.
…art forms that have always struck me as monstrously over-supplied, such as fiction and, in Britain, stand-up comedy, now make all the sense in the world. Many of the jobbing practitioners did not start out in these fields at 18 or 21. They are eking out an escapist sideline to their unloved careers. They are not dilettantes. They are more desperate than that…Regardless, they will keep writing or acting or honing jokes until they absolutely have to give it up…To have no outlet at all is a kind of death.
These are, I realise, improbable candidates for sympathy. They are well into the fourth tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They have sustenance, material trappings (often lots of them), intimate relationships and professional respect. It is just that the transition into the fifth tier — “self-actualisation” — turns out to be a great divider in life….The young, when charting their way in life, deserve to know.”