Problem Solving designed by Rob Maslin from the Noun Project

Problem Solving designed by Rob Maslin from the Noun Project

How can we know which projects are worthwhile for us and which are trivial? At Hotel Genius, a letter from the late quantum physicist Richard Feynman explains why the humbler projects are also some of the most important for us to work on:

The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones you can really contribute something to…

I would advise you to take even simpler, or as you say, humbler, problems until you find some you can really solve easily, no matter how trivial. You will get the pleasure of success, and of helping your fellow man, even if it is only to answer a question in the mind of a colleague less able than you. You must not take away from yourself these pleasures because you have some erroneous idea of what is worthwhile…No problem is too small or too trivial if we can really do something about it.

The advice Feynman gives is simple enough, yet how often do we feel like we need to work on something colossal in order to feel validated and purpose-driven?

While you may feel pressure to revolutionize the race to mars, to write a #1 best-selling novel, or to start a business and sell it for billions of dollars, the real worthwhile work to be done is any work that you can realistically do now. The problems you solve and the work you do now may not be work “close to the gods” (to use Feynman’s words), but that doesn’t make it any less important.

[via]

  • eftalgezer

    Feynmann is one of the worthwhile physicist.

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  • brandon.

    i needed that badly!

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  • lostpixel

    I wholeheartedly agree with this, especially as the bigger the problem/project is the more likely it is that you’ll be a small cog in a big machine. I think it’s more satisfying to feel responsible for small things, than it is to not feel responsible for big things.

  • http://www.biketinker.com/ BikeTinker

    A real improvement in a trivial thing can give you satisfaction for years. About every tenth time I go through my back gate, I remember raising it three inches to keep it from dragging on the ground, and I think, “Oh yeah, that used to suck.”

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