It’s the time of year when students expect uplifting speeches of uncommon wisdom which will guide them in their future lives.
Well, they do in the US. In the UK we’re a bit more modest. When you graduate from the University of Cambridge you get some mumbled words of Latin and that’s it. Perhaps some tea and sandwiches in your college. The degree is its own reward and if you pick up any wisdom from your teachers then you count yourself lucky. I mean, why would you take advice from academics…?
But in the spirit of the time, and after tearful farewells to both MFin and MBA students in recent days, here are three articles that I reckon contain quite a lot of good sense on both career success and on having a happy life. They cite research and evidence, so they don’t fall into the Obama-style fine rhetoric category, but they are perhaps all the more useful for that. The most powerful is the last one, which recounts a nurse’s account of the most common thoughts of people when they know they are dying. The number one regret was that they wished they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves, rather than what others expected of them. The second was that they wish they hadn’t worked so hard. It’s hard to add much to that.
What 6 steps should be guiding your career
Personally I would prefer the Obama-style referred to above, if it avoids the more cringeworthy elements in those links, such as using the word “flow” every few sentences; “doctors put in a positive mood before making a diagnosis show almost three times more intelligence and creativity”; and “it turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to [la-di-da-di-da]…”
On a more serious note, Peter Singer has written some thoughtful work on this sort of thing, which might be of interest if people haven’t come across that.