Una's Blog


36 Study what you love


by Una Hearne.

When choosing what to study, or helping our kids to choose, we often ask the wrong question:  ‘What should I/you study to guarantee a secure well paid job?’

Please stop asking this. The answer to this genuinely is, nobody knows for sure. It may have been a valid question in the past in the sense that it might have led you into a secure job. However it has also always been true that if you ended up working in something you hated, or grew to hate, you either quit or were miserable for your entire working life. It’s the wrong question. The right question is ‘What do I want to study?’

Not everyone has a grand passion to do something but everyone is more interested in some things than others.

The whole idea of trying to get a secure well paid job at any cost, makes less sense than ever now,  for two reasons. Firstly, as our societies develop and we live longer, as life becomes more than just a battle for survival, we become more concerned about our personal happiness. We don’t want to spend long working lives doing something we hate. We have choices and we want to do something meaningful.

As Tom Shadyac put it, in conversation with Oprah, :

‘If you  don’t do what your heart wants you to do and follow your passion, it will  destroy you.’


The second reason is we simply cannot predict what jobs will exist in the future. The pace of change is now so rapid that there really can be no certainty. I was at a talk where an education expert quoted a report by the European Commission in 2010 ‘By 2020 many, and by 2030 most of the jobs cannot be predicted, have not even been conceived of’. Now I’m pretty sure there will be jobs in health and housing, education and technology, energy and law, and all other areas that are fundamental to our lives. However the structure of those jobs and what qualifications and knowledge will be necessary will be a lot more difficult to predict. And the new technologies and industries we will invent – we can’t even guess at.

The best, most reliable predictor of whether you will be gainfully employed and secure is if you are engaged and  interested in your work. If you are interested, you are more likely to be good at what you do and have a natural interest in keeping up and adapting.. We spend significant time working and studying, it makes sense to spend that time involved in something you like rather than enduring something you hate.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.