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November 23, 2019

The fallacy behind "do what you love, the money will follow"


It's exactly the same error in reasoning that leads to people anointing stock pickers who made the right call as great investors, when in fact anytime you lump enough people together, someone will get lucky and be right.

Lots of people — I'd dare to say millions — do what they love, but little in the way of money follows.

Instead, for the great majority there's frustration, anger and penury, with the love ultimately abandoned in favor of something that guarantees a regular paycheck.

A few people do get lucky.

Most of those just smile at their lucky fortune, like individuals who find they've got a winning lottery ticket.

But every single one of those who get lucky were indistinguishable at the get-go from far more exactly like them who crashed and burned.

For every successful artist, actor or musician there are a thousand equally talented but unlucky ones.

Save your money.

November 23, 2019 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


"Do what you love" drives this economist nuts. It would be hard to give people worse advice.

Doing what **you** love is profoundly unsocial. It is about absolute valuations that are mostly internal to each of us. Following those valuations creates little.

Starting in the second week of any microeconomics class, we start talking about how value is created because it is always relative, social, and comparative. It is always about finding something that you can do well, and that others prefer not to do.

Instead of "do what you love", better advice is "do what others dislike" or "do what others aren't good at".

In my life if I'd done what I loved, I'd be a puppy-hugger. The problem is that everyone else likes to hug their own puppies. You can't fix what everyone else loves too. But you can make better choices.

Posted by: Dave Tufte | Nov 26, 2019 6:04:13 PM

I am currently in the midst of deciding what to do for my degree project in computer science. It is quite common over here to do the project at a company, and I have gotten offers from two of them, a small one working with train scheduling, and one with a 50x turnover developing cancer treatments. Of course my heart isn't where the money's at. But hey, it's computer science. I'll probably end up just fine.

Posted by: Pippi | Nov 25, 2019 4:37:21 AM

Ironically, this was the first post of mine to make it through the BOJian 404-from-hell. Interesting. Buy my products.

Posted by: clif | Nov 23, 2019 2:21:44 PM

It is what we call in the industry, Survivor Bias. What industry? None of your business, trust me on this because I am a survivor so I am right.

Posted by: clif | Nov 23, 2019 2:21:00 PM

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