Wednesday, September 22, 2010

90,000 Hours

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking and don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking, and don't settle." - Steve Jobs

I have never heard a career described as a matter of the heart before. Yet what Jobs says makes a great deal of sense. If you're an average person, you'll work approximately 45 years (say 22 - 67) - approximately 90,000 hours at 8 hours a day (not including weekends and two weeks vacation). By contrast, other time you spend will rang from approximately 4896 hours in school (K - 4 year college) versus 221,920 hours sleeping (8 hours a night for 76 years- but who gets that). If you make 50 years in a marriage, you'll spend at least 145,600 hours together (not including work and sleep, of course).

Another way to put it: Most likely after sleeping and our relationship with our spouse and family, work is the next major line item we will spend most of our life doing.

Wow. That's a great deal of time to spend doing something you don't really care about - in fact, it's probably a great deal like being in a loveless marriage, enduring more for the sake of the relationship rather than for any sense of joy of being in the relationship.

I wish we taught this to our young people - that choosing a career is no idle thing, a thing which is much less important than things like having fun, a fully rounded growing up experience ("Do every activity so you can get into a good college") or dating. Good heavens - we spend more time instructing our children in how to select a good spouse than a good job, although by my rough calculations we spend 62% of the same amount of time in a career relationship as a marriage relationship.

I'll deal with work as a matter of the heart - a love, if you will - tomorrow. But for today, my closing thought is this: if we spend that much time at work and that much effort, shouldn't we as individuals spend more time preparing? Are we helping others - are we helping ourselves - to find the work that really matters for us? Or do we condemn ourselves to a loveless career marriage?

Loveless marriages generally don't turn out well. Neither do loveless careers.

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