It's just 8 hours a day. 5 days a week. Roughly 25% of your life. Another 33.3% is spent asleep. Maybe you commute to work; maybe that takes you 45 minutes each way. That's 4.4% of your life spent driving, walking, on trains or buses to get to your job. You're going to spend a small percentage of your life on the toilet; another small percentage in supermarkets buying food, in a kitchen preparing it, or in a dining room eating it.
All the 'big events' in your life will be squeezed into the precious little time you have left after survival's necessary subtractions. Going to school. Getting drunk. Being hungover. Getting married. Buying a house. Attending funerals.
Perhaps we were thinking in similar terms. You took those thoughts—nay, facts—and channeled them into a manifesto which guides your relationship with your employer.
Here's what I did with the same facts. I decided I'm not spending over 25% of my life (37.5% of my waking life) doing something I don’t LOVE. For comparison, if I find a spouse, it's likely I won't spend 25% of my life in their company. So if I'm going to spend more time at work than I will with my future husband, I need to love my job at least as much as I do him. That's the conviction which caused me, just a few hours ago, to hand in my notice of resignation to my current employer. Because when I find myself watching the clock waiting for 5:01, I must concede that 25% of me (37.5% of the waking me) has already died.
This isn't a judgement. I respect you for your decision. There's probably some pity in there too, but honestly, it's mostly respect.
The vast majority of people in the world do not have the luxury of loving their work. For those, 25% of their lives working for someone else in a job they tolerate but do not necessarily enjoy is a means to an end. Maybe it's 20 years of comfortable retirement, or the relative security of a regular paycheck to support their spouse and children.
Most of us on HN are lucky enough to enjoy coding and are well compensated for it. We get caught in the feedback loop of tech chatter and forget that the majority of our friends and family, outside the blissful tech world, do not enjoy their work.
Are you going to pay me to play Xbox with my brother or go out to dinner with my wife and talk about interesting books we've read? Neither is anybody else. For most people, the set of "things I love" and "things people will pay me to do" intersect very little if at all.
(I don't actually have this conundrum. There are a few things I enjoy doing that people will pay me for. But I'm lucky that way. If I suddenly became unable to do those two or three things, I'd be in the situation I described.)
If you only love consumption habits, try taking up new hobbies. There must be something that you will enjoy that is constructive.
This sounds very naive. I've gone for beer with various people in the gaming industry. From ubisoft QA team leader to indie game programmer to Blizzard Project Manager. All of them were tired of their jobs. For all of them it was "just a job" and sometimes even less. It's these people that I end up going to beer with in normal social contexts. Maybe because the ones who really like their job don't go out. OTOH I know the colleagues in my company who spend too much time on their job and I really wouldn't want to go out with them.
I am interested in the indie game programmers being unhappy. That seems almost paradoxical, unless they were just unsuccessful. I cannot imagine Notch having a stronger passion that making video games.
There's nothing like being forced to do something for a living to turn what you love in to a chore.
I used to love programming. Then I did it professionally, day in and day out, for years on end. It didn't take very long to make it a boring chore that I felt I was forced to do.
Then I switched to system administration. At first it was fun and interesting, but as my learning plateaued it became boring as well (not to mention very stressful).
Then it was on to something else. Rinse and repeat..
There are consequences to this sort of career-switching (not to mention to the burnout involved). Usually, it's the specialists with a simple, linear career path that get rewarded. Generalists and jacks-of-all-trades do not typically get much in the way of compensation or respect. Companies will look askance at your switching jobs (not to mention careers) so often, and you will find it difficult to compete with someone who's been doing just that one thing his whole career.
But the problem for people like me is mainly the tendency of getting bored too quickly. We pick up hobbies and interests for a while, but then they bore us -- even if we are not forced to do them for a living (though the rate at which they bore us tend to increase the more we are forced to do them day in and day out).
So what's the solution? There doesn't seem to be one. We just have to suck it up and work at a job that we'll inevitably get bored of and hate.. unless someone wants to pay us to play and to pursue whatever interest strikes our fancy at the moment. And, at least for me, that's probably not happening in this lifetime.
1) The product has to be valuable enough to a reasonably large number of people
2) You have to be reasonably good at what you do (this isn't a given at all)
3) Very likely, you have to be reasonably good at marketing (and, if we're really serious about the "doing what you love" thing, love marketing)
Even if you really love doing something creative, without the above, you better love it more than eating if you're going to try doing it for a living.
Again, this is roughly equivalent to "let them eat cake." Creative professions are famously unremunerative.
I love music, and I decided that I spent too much of my life staring at a screen, so I took up the guitar. I am terrible at it, but the feeling you get beating a hard boss on xbox is only a pale shadow of the feeling I get when I am playing music (even badly). And the feeling I get when playing music by myself is only a pale shadow of what I feel when I get together with some friends and some beers, and we play music together.
I love eating, and I found I was spending too much money at fancy restaurants, so I decided to learn how to cook. Cooking dinner during the week after a long day of work is bullshit, but going out on the weekend to a farmers market, getting amazing ingredients, coming home and making something that is wonderful is an amazing feeling. Even more then that, sharing it with your wife, or the rest of your family is even better. Watching people you care about close their eyes with pleasure after taking their first bite of the food you put your heart into is really wonderful, and hard to beat.
Last thing is programming. I am really good at programming, and spend a lot of time perfecting my craft. Several years ago I found I no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't make a good UI to save my life, I didn't enjoy the software I made. So I decided to change that. The first time I solved a problem for someone with software, and did it in a way that left them amazed and delighted, I felt better then all those years banging around with frameworks and sql statements. It was even a small rush either, it was something that was downright addictive. Nowadays I call myself a front-end developer, and I love collaborating with good designers to bring great software to life. But it isn't about twiddling bits for me, it is to make parts of other peoples lives that were kind of rough and not pleasant more joyful.
Creating is hands down the most fulfilling way I can use my time, to the point that consuming is only something I do now if I am too beat from doing creative things. I like to pretend I'm a gamer, but I can't really play a game for more then a few hours now without feeling bored and unfulfilled. I love to read, but nowadays the most time I have for fiction is to wind down before sleep, or in audiobook form on my way to do something else. I used to spend so much time and gain so much enjoyment out of those activities, but actually taking the time to get ok in a few creative disciplines, and the years I spent enjoying those things seem pale by comparison.
While some passions are easier to monetize then others if you are in the top 100 people that do it, there is a good chance someone will pay you for it.
That is ideal, but it is not always feasible. There are some things nobody likes doing, but somebody's got to do them. I'm fortunate that I like programming and that people will pay me to do it, but not everyone is so lucky.
EDIT: It all comes down to balancing and finding what you truly LOVE. If being a janitor paid $300 an hour because supposedly nobody would do it otherwise... I'd do it knowing, thinking, and planning with what I love in mind... saving up money so I could do/have what I love! My time! Sometimes you have to put in short term pain for a long term gain...
As it has been noted, for most of humanity some sort of purely consuming task seems most enjoyable these days.
I would much rather play strategy video games or chess, but there is a very limited market for good players. Also, it has been noted playing anything for money actually changes your enjoyment of that task. Corollary - if you are the best at something in the world - you can create your own profession.
Programming is something that I enjoy, but it is not something i want to do 24/7. However, it is well rewarded.
That's only if you're lucky. At least in America, 10 or more hours a day is quite common. In the tech field, some weekend work is also not unheard of. In some companies and industries (like game development, startups, finance, not to mention insane shifts that nurses and doctors are forced to work), death marches and sweatshops where you work 14 to 16 hour days for months on end is the (pathological) norm.
The above doesn't even count the times where you bring the work home with you, nor how the crap you have to deal with at work affects the rest of your life emotionally and the (usually detrimental) effect it has on your health.
You do get compensated somewhat financially for this. But how much is your health and emotional well-being really worth?
Consider this next time some company sends out a pitch for a ninja or rockstar that loves to work in an "exciting", "fast-paced" environment.
We spend too much time at it to call it "just a job". Sure, I've been there ... close to burning out, hating going to work, wanting nothing to do with co-workers. But this is my life, and it's the only one I got. Life is to short to have a job that is "just a job".
Many probably can't just walk out of their "just a job" right now - they have obligations to their boss, they have to feed their family, etc. But the goal should be to work to change it, and make their jobs more than "just a job".
No, obviously the solution is to minimize the time spent working, either way.
"Only when we are free from working to live, will we be free to live to work."
Indeed, very few people in our industry don't appreciate a daily hit (or two) of caffeine.