Creating things makes me happy. What about you?
Creating things brings me joy.
I was lucky to find out that I love making things at a relatively young age. If I had known sooner, I might have saved a lot of time. I spent hundreds of hours over many years studying things that didn't teach me more or less anything about creating. But I still think I'm lucky because I know quite some people who already passed the better part of their lives and are still looking for the thing that makes them happy.
It took me a long time to figure this out and I needed to figure it out alone. I wonder if someone had told me, "Hey, you seem to like making things, maybe you should try doing that for work," would my life be different? There are so many choices in life and so little time, so any help in narrowing down the number of things that has higher chance to get you to a fulfilling live is great. That's one reason I wanted to write this article. If what I wrote here resonates with even just one of you, I just want tell you that you seem to like making things, maybe you should try doing that for work.
Disclaimer: What I'm saying here is solely my subjective opinion and based on my own experience.
Things I loved doing when I was a kid
Looking back, I don't know if I loved making things because of these happy memories, or if these happy memories made me love making things.
I had a good friend in kindergarten. Although our friendship didn't last into grade school, but one of my greatest memories I have is coming into the kindergarten classroom and seeing him waiting by the window for me to make something cool that day.
I have a big scar on my head from when I was about 4 years old and my brother was 6. Because I was younger, I was only supposed to play with Lego Duplo, which are bigger and not as fun.
One day, I decided I was big enough for regular Legos. When my brother wasn't looking, I took his building plate and some of his Legos. I don't know if my brother loved making things like I did, or if he was just envious, but when he saw his Legos were missing, he found me with his building plate in my hand which he take from me smashed it to my head.
Even after that, I kept taking my brother's Legos. I loved the freedom of making things with those small, colorful bricks so much that I even risked my brother's wrath. After a while, my brother got older and stopped playing with Legos, but I kept playing with them. Sometimes even these days.
Like a lot of kids, loved my pocketknife. Having it made me feel invincible. Not just because it could protect me from any threat out there, but because it let me make any tool I needed for survival. I would spend all day in the woods with my pocketknife and some rope, making my wooden base better and adding to my collection of spears, swords, and arrows. Now that I live in a city, I don't have that freedom anymore. As working from home becomes more common, I think more and more about moving back to the countryside.
In the flow
I think most people have had the experience of being "in the flow." Simply put this is a state of mind when you're so focused on a thing, that you don't even notice the passing of time. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Hungarian-American psychologist came up with the concept of the flow stat and thought people are happiest when they're experiencing it.
Different activities can trigger this state of flow for different people. For some, it might be painting or writing, while for others, it might be playing sports or writing software code. Personally, I find that I enter a state of flow when I'm fully engaged in the process of creating something. The feeling of being deeply focused and seeing a project come together is truly satisfying.
Jobs that might not make you happy
If you're like me and love making and creating, some jobs might not make you happy. These could include:
Jobs with the same tasks every day: If you like doing different things and working on different projects, jobs that have you doing the same thing most days like data entry, assembly line work, or customer service might not be a good fit for you.
Jobs with no creativity: Jobs that have strict rules and guidelines can leave little room for exploring new ideas and approaches. For instance, jobs in finance or accounting often require following strict rules and regulations, with little room for creativity or originality.
Jobs with no hands-on work: If you like getting your hands dirty and actually working on projects, even certain high profile jobs like strategic positions, people managers might not make you happy.
Jobs that might make you happy
I haven't done all of these jobs myself, but I think that people who find fulfillment in creating things might enjoy doing the some of these jobs:
Carpenter: As a carpenter, you get to work with wood to make and fix things. This job lets you actually make things with your hands and see your creations take shape.
Architect: Architects plan and design buildings, from houses to big business buildings. This job lets you be creative, solve problems, and use technical knowledge to shape our world.
Software engineer: In this job, you get to make and create digital things by writing, testing, and keeping up computer programs. Software engineering lets you be creative and technical, and there's always something new to learn.
Mechanical, electrical, or hardware engineer: These jobs let you design, make, and improve systems, machines, and devices. You can use your love of creating to solve hard, real-world problems.
Product designer: Product designers come up with ideas for products that are made, like cars, home appliances, and furniture. This job combines art and technical knowledge, and lets you bring your creative ideas to life.
Product manager: This is the job I ended up doing, even though I didn't know about it at first. Every company does product management differently, but usually, as a product manager, you're in charge of making and improving products. You work with different teams and make sure the final product is what people want and need.
If anything I've said here makes sense to you, I encourage you to try it out. Pay attention to how you feel when you're doing something that involves making or creating something. Do you like it? Do you get into the flow easily? This could be a sign that a job where you get to create might be what makes you happy.