Are you wasting your life at your JOB?

Are you wasting your life at your job?

The greatest fear – being stuck in some shit job when I’m an old man

Let me ask you a few questions. First, why are you putting in 50+ hours a week at a job you don’t care about, when what’s truly important to you is getting pushed to the wayside? No need to answer just yet, we will address it shortly. Second, if you found out you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do? On the second question, I’d  spend the day chilling out with my closest friends and family over a banquet of food and tunes. As a matter of fact, Big Talk founder, Kalina Silverman, asked this exact question to a bunch of strangers and they had some interesting things to say.

Kalina posted a video to her Big Talk site in early 2016 where she asked a bunch of strangers two questions[1]. Number one, what if you found out you were going to die tomorrow? Number two, what do you want to do before you die? On the first question, most folks responded with something that would connect them others. Such as, hanging out or getting in touch with people they have meaningful relationships with. This was universal and spanned across all age groups. You know what none of them said? Not one person mentioned anything to do with their job. Here’s a colorful graph and a summary of their answers (I took an educated guess at the people’s age group, if you disagree let me know):

The Colorful Graph and Summary Box
what if you found out you were going to die tomorrow?
Responses to What if you found out you were going to die tomorrow? (Age group and Category in italics.)

  • I would be happy because before I lived very bad, I was homeless for 13 yrs (40-60 yrs old, accomplishment)
  • Phone all my friends (60+ yrs old, people/relationships)
  • Text all my friends (≤ 25 yrs old, people/relationships)
  • I would take a road trip to go see someone….I would tell them that I love (25 – 40 yrs old, people )
  • Be with my family (40-60 yrs old, people)
  • Get on an airplane with my dad to go see my son (25-40 yrs old, people)

On the second question, the responses were slightly different with the largest choice encompassing people and relationships, followed by adventure-esque or accomplishment related activities. Do you know what no one said? You guessed it… no one mentioned anything about their jobs. Below is another colorful graph and a summary of what the people said.

The Colorful Graph and Summary Box #2
what do you want to do before you die?
Responses What do you want to do before you die? (Age group and Category in italics.)

  • Learn to scuba dive (25 – 40 yrs old, adventure)
  • Travel the Appalachian trail (25 – 40 yrs old, adventure)
  • Confess to priest everyday (40 – 60 yrs old, spiritual)
  • Become a reptile-ologist (herpetologist) (≤ 25 yrs old, learning)
  • See my kids graduate (40 – 60 yrs old, people)
  • Make every moment count (60+ yrs old, adventure)
  • Live live without any alcohol & drugs and just be happy…day by day (40 – 60 yrs old, accomplishment)
  • Be able to reconcile with my father and tell him I love him (25 – 40 yrs old, people/relationships)
  • Have a wife & kids (25 – 40 yrs old, people)

A 101 on what is truly important to you

Are you surprised by the response’s of Kalina’s strangers?  You shouldn’t be. Scientific research has been suggesting for sometime now that loneliness kills, and a sense of adventure is in our biology.  This is because, we are all social beings that need to connect, belong and discover. Hence, when you’re faced with your own mortality, you tend to prioritize the important stuff – embracing meaningful relationships and discovery.  This is what makes us truly happy and fulfilled. The movie Interstellar does a perfect job of capturing this human condition.

If you haven’t seen Interstellar, shame on you! Nevertheless, the synopsis of the movie is this: The Earth is dying and the human race is collectively facing its own mortality. We need to find a new place live. Therefore, we prioritize the important shit. Copper (Matthew McConaughey), on behalf of the human race, sets out on an adventure of discovery to find a new home among the stars. He eventually succeeds and the entire human race is in joyful happiness about being saved from extinction.

Lesson 1, discovery and adventure is truly important. It creates lasting happiness and fulfillment.

Also, during Cooper’s journey, he watches a pre-recorded video message from his now adult daughter , Murph (she was 10 yrs old when he left), played by Jessica Chastain.  Murph lets Cooper know it’s her 30th birthday and he should get his ass back home.  The video message causes Cooper severe pain and sadness, something which Matthew McConaughey displays brilliantly. That pain and sadness Cooper displays is the embodiment of our need to belong and be connected with other people.

Lesson 2, (participating) in meaningful relationships with other people is truly important. It generates enduring happiness and fulfillment.

Hence, the reason your job doesn’t mean shit is because it doesn’t provide you with meaningful relationships and it doesn’t provide you with a sense of discovery.

Are you wasting your life at your job?

We spend around 50% of our waking hours at a job[2]. Considering our innate motivators, it doesn’t seem quite right we can only spend, at best, 25% of our waking hours on each[3]. It’s bullshit. It shouldn’t be this way and I’m not the only one that thinks so.

Around 1930, 1st Baron Keynes wrote a now famous essay. In it he predicted that “the economic problem may be solved…within a hundred years”. The economic problem, as he defined it,  is the struggle to make ends meet to cover our basic needs, like food,  shelter and medical. Keynes believed that our technology would have advanced so far by now (2016) that it would generate incomes so high that we would only need to work 15 hours a week. Those 15 hours would cover our economic needs, and therefore, the rest of our time could be spent discovering, creating and enjoy meaningful relationships. So, why are we still stuck putting in 50+ hours a week at a job?

Your job is bullshit

People are fantastic at doing shit they really don’t need to. Anthropologist David Graeber wrote an interesting article on bullshit jobs, claiming that essentially all the “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service related work” are bullshit jobs. Jobs that do not produce anything , but yet make up three quarters of the employment market, and keep people so busy they create a whole other set off bullshit jobs just to do the tasks they have no time for. Think commercial lawyer hiring a professional dog washer. Could this be you? Well, let’s take a look at myself as an example.

I have spent 7 years at university to become a “construction professional”. A rather ambiguous term which simply means I get paid rather well to do administrative-middle-manager-esque type tasks that do not produce anything in their own right. But, somehow I manage to spend 50 hours a week doing this job. Does that sound like a bullshit job to you? It is. I don’t physically contribute to getting things built, and frankly – shit would still get built if no one ever did my job again.

Concluding

So to answer the question – are you wasting your life at your job? Probably. Does your job actually add anything useful to society? Are you working in medical research or genetics, helping SpaceX figure out how to get to Mars, working on creating artificial superintelligence, or something else of significance to help rocket (no pun intended) the human race into the future?[4] If you’re not, chances are you’re doing a bullshit job as well.

Make the decision to take control of your life. Start working on your financial independence so you can free yourself from meaningless work and give yourself the time to pursue your own projects, innovations, and enjoy meaningful relationships. Follow your own personal values. Who knows, maybe someday your own project will be of tremendous value to the world.

Peace Out,

No Pants Money Man

Footnotes:

  1. Check out her Big Talk website to watch the video yourself
  2. There is 168 hours in a week. About 56 hours is spent sleeping, leaving 112 hours remaining. Most people spend between 40 – 60 hours at their job, 2 – 3 hours commuting and 2 – 3 hours preparing for their job. So, that’s between 40% – 59% of your waking hours dedicated to your job.
  3. You still need to do boring things in the remaining 50% you’re not at your job. Like personal hygiene, eating, probably some house chores and maintenance. At a minimum, that would take up around 10% – 15% of your remaining free time a week, or about 2 hours a day.
  4. All you teachers, nurses and doctors out there – you might not be a future rocketeer, but you sure do a damn good job making sure we have future rocketeers. You don’t need to be doing ground-breaking pursuits to have a non-bullshit job. You just need to doing something that adds real value to society.
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