Science-based life advice

A pair of sociologists have come up with science-based advice for grads. It’s a powerful antidote to the usual “follow your dreams” stuff. For example:

College graduates are often told: “follow your passion,” do “what you love,” what you were “meant to do,” or “make your dreams come true.” Two-thirds think they’re going find a job that allows them to change the world, half within five years. Yikes. 

This sets young people up to fail. The truth is that the vast majority of us will not be employed in a job that is both our lifelong passion and a world-changer; that’s just not the way our global economy is.

I would add that the pressure even to know what you love, what your passions are, or what your dreams are when you’re graduating from college is mistaken. When I graduated with a degree in creative writing, I assumed that I ought to want to be in publishing, which it turns out is like loving food and thus deciding to work in an abattoir. It was only through a series of odd decisions and happenstance — deciding on a whim to go off to India instead of figuring out my career, coming back from India just as the dot-com boom was taking off, following a girlfriend to Korea to teach English for a year — that I gradually came to know what I love and care about.  

The keys seem to be flexibility, friendship, and listening, rather than a relentless focus on any particular goal, such as children, a house, or changing the world. (Via BoingBoing.)