Career And More In 10,000 hours and 20 hours!

Long back, when reading "How to pick a career" by Tim Urban, I freaked out, as I realized that we only have 2,50,000 meaningful hours of adult life, out of which about 1,50,000 hours will be spent on career - which is 60%! If you hate your career or job and if you don't have any time for your hobbies, you are basically left with nothing. This is why it becomes crucial to pay attention to what we are doing.

We all dream of many things - be a rock star, create the next Facebook, learn crocheting, be the master chef, be the best gully cricketer and so on. But we only have limited time. This is why many people sing the praises of passion and sticking to it. People as young as kids are advised to just go in the direction of their passion, whatever it is. "It doesn't matter if there's a market for it or not, all that matters is you loving what you do." This may seem like a reasonable thing to do, but many real life examples prove that it's not for several reasons:
  • You are young, you still don't know what exactly might be the thing you would love/tolerate for your entire lifetime. You are also bound to change over years, even more in your growth years.
  • You need to earn a living to first survive in this world, only then you can think about living. Many fields like art and literature are ultra competitive and only a minor percentage of the people, who are mostly world renowned, manage to earn a living from it, without working on a different daily job, to make the ends meet.
Many recent books point to the research findings that passion is overrated and what may work better is sticking to your chosen field through thick and thin and getting better at it consistently. As you get better at anything, you get over the tipping point and become an expert. As you keep growing your expertise, you will actually develop a passion for your work.

This doesn't mean that deliberately choose something which you hate and be miserable all your life. There's nothing wrong with choosing what you love, but if you want to thrive in a society, you need to consider the practical implications of choosing it. Keep in mind that media highlights only the few successful stories and not the millions of other stories, where people struggle to make a career out of their passion. Success can never be measured just in monetary terms and it means different things to different people. Defining what success means to you and brainstorming if your passion can cater to all those criteria will help, "How to pick a career" is the best article you can start with!

Learning for a lifetime
Learning for a lifetime

This also doesn't mean that you can only do one thing in all your waking hours of your life. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the concept of 10,000 hour rule in his book Outliers, that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice for anyone to make it to the top 1% of that field. But the popularity of this rule in media got translated incorrectly as following - it takes 10,000 hours to learn anything! If it is so, we can forget about having any hobbies, considering the fact that many people can only afford to spend 15-60 mins on a hobby per day. Josh Kaufman has popularized that it only takes 20 hours to learn the basics of anything, which is about 45 minutes per day over a month. This fact really cheers me up, as I really want to learn many things, just for the joy of it! But of course, I can't pick 1000 hobbies to learn, even then! Less is more, committing to few high priority things will provide you more scope to get better in each and thus provide more satisfaction than just barely scraping through the surface/shallow knowledge of many trivial things.
  • Explore all the possible options you think you like or may suit you and evaluate them as per your success criteria.
  • Eliminate all the options that don't meet the criteria. This is eliminating many of them and only keep the few important options, which you will work on for a long time. Keep the final list very minimal, any time you spend on trivial stuff is time not spent on your most favorite hobby or work.
  • Execute. Once you have chosen something after lot of brainstorming, stick to it long enough for you to gain actual insights about it. Don't give up in a month. Only repeat the cycle after a lot of considerable amount of work here, to choose a different option.
Learning doesn't end in school and it's a lifetime activity. It keeps the brain healthy and sharp. It gives our life a purpose - this is the very essence of the Japanese concept "Ikigai", which is quoted as one of the major reasons for people living a lot longer in Japan, a purpose gets you out of your bed every morning!

On what do you want to spend your 10,000 hours and attain mastery?
What exciting new things do you want to learn using your 20 hour slots per month?



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