This is a great question – I don't have a definitive answer.

Instead I have a tangent I'd like to go on (thread):
A fun way to think about this is to try and answer the following:

"What should I spend my time working on?"

Good ideas are ones that are worth spending time on. This may mean your entire life, or a significant portion of it.

One heuristic has become increasingly useful to me.
You should heavily consider working on "Evergreen Ideas". In short, they:

- Are well-known
- Have been around for a while
- Are objectively good / noble things to work on

Name very inspired by @andy_matuschak. I recommend going down this rabbit hole 👇
First, they're well-known. My favorite example here is Hamming in "Your and Your research":

He focuses on luck / being prepared, but notice also how he mentions that both information theory and coding theory were "in the air". The Zeitgeist, if you will.
Hamming then poses the following question:

"If you do not work on important problems, how can you expect to do important work?"

Agreed. How do we know what problems are important?

One way is to focus on those that have been around for a while.
The patron saint of Evergreen Ideas is @elonmusk. I cannot think of a better example.

1. He didn't invent the electric car
2. He didn't invent the rocket
3. He didn't come up with the idea of a BMI
4. And he didn't invent AI

Now think about the impact he will have on humanity.
It takes humility to dedicate your life to an idea you didn't come up with. Hence the rarity.
Lastly, Evergreen Ideas are objectively good / noble things to work on. This property is more of a byproduct of the first two.

Working on a well-known problem that's "in the air" and has been around for a while is a good indicator that it's a virtuous thing to work on.
This isn't some novel concept that I came up with. If you've read this far, that's "the point" of this all. This line of thinking is in and of itself an "Evergreen Idea".

Here's the same thought:
This was in my head I decided to join @withprimer – it ticked all of the boxes. I'd love to spend 10+ years doing what I do today.

I can recommend this from personal experience, and if you've read this far I sincerely hope it has helped.

(DMs are open btw – we are hiring!)
I'll close with Hamming (and Socrates):

"I believe a life in which you do not try to extend yourself regularly is not worth living—but it is up to you to pick the goals you believe are worth striving for.

As Socrates (469–399 BC) said: The unexamined life is not worth living."
several typos, no surprise there

I clearly need compile-time errors to function properly
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