I get that this is aimed at the startup crowd, but I've always felt that this sentiment is pretty privileged. We, the elite, get to cherry pick our work and do what we like. But I bet 9/10 people will never feel they have this luxury, and 8/10 will be right.
> Most people pick their career fairly randomly...
And in the truest sense of "most people" I would bet that "most people take whatever work they can get, and sometimes something sticks" is probably more accurate.
I know these sentiments are a bit cynical, I just can help but feel sometimes that it's irresponsible to dump the "you can be/do anything!" sentiment on our youth when the reality is nowhere near that for most of them. I understand we need ideals and motivation to make them a reality, but more flowery advice doesn't seem to be the best tactic.
Regardless, Sam is an amazing individual who has done an enormous amount for others and the startup community. This isn't meant to disparage his views or advice; ironically, I think it's just hardest to give truly sage advice when you're trying to be sage.
Personally I found plenty of little things to love about otherwise horrible dead end jobs, but that wasn't really the reason to keep going back to work, I was there to get paid to live my life outside of work because the job itself was not really fun or fruitful.
I actually think this is a better message for people...
Some jobs are going to be great, others are going to suck. That doesn't really matter because for most people its what you do outside of your job that will determine your happiness. Try and find a job/career that you like but sometimes a job is just something you do for money to fund other stuff and that is perfectly ok.
Personally I find the increasing emphasis on work as a way to derive personal satisfaction troubling. It looks like a subtle trap to me. A way to convince people to forgo time with their family, hobbies, side ventures and anything else you might possibly derive happiness from in favor of just working more and trying to convince yourself that that is enough.
If you love your job then more power to you but sometimes a job is just a means to an end and that is perfectly ok. Just make sure that you are spending the rest of your time doing stuff that makes you happy. Spend time with family and friends, make something, learn something new and make sure you are using the money from your job in ways that will contribute to your long term financial well being.
Extremely well put. This entire concept has troubled me for a long time and you've really nailed it pointing out that we're increasingly advising people to get their joy in life from their work instead of the literally MILLIONS of other things they can enjoy. Thanks for that.
A counterpoint to this is that many people -- myself included -- see that we spend so much of our waking hours at a job (about 40% assuming a 40-hour week) that we want to spend that 40% doing something that makes us happy.
So it's not that work defines us or drives our satisfaction, but that work makes up a large part of our lifespan, and it seems wasteful to spend it doing something just to facilitate the happiness of the other 60%.
I don't want to strive to be happy just 60% of the time -- I want to strive to be happy 100% of the time.
But it's helped me to think about this in a different context: think about the time you spend with your spouse. How much of that time is taken up with "life's necessities" like doing laundry, dishes, prepping meals, cleaning, more cleaning, driving places, even arguing and getting hurt are all part of relationships... And all that stuff takes time and it's not a nice meal out or a walk on the beach or an impromptu dance session. There's a lot of the mundane in our most treasured relationships, and the only people who have a problem with that are teenagers.
Should work/life really be any different?
You can apply the same logic to your job. Everybody needs to earn their keep. That's a fact of life. People that already want an excuse to forgo their live for the sake of work will take it as confirmation of what they want to hear.
Not to say that what you say is wrong, just to point how it can be use it to rationalize if taking literally and/or out of context.
As a freelancer living well below my means, I have the freedom to be as busy or relaxed as I want (within certain boundaries). Unlike an employee, it is up to me to be productive, improve my skills, handle my finances... or just do nothing all day. And unlike many other freelancers who don't live well below their means (or can't, it should be said), I don't often run into the problem that I have to accept a huge workload for long periods of time so that I can pay the bills in fallow periods.
Freelancing is not for everyone, and not every freelancer is as lucky as I am. But considering that many people could reach my 'level' of income by intensely studying and practicing for a few months, I'm often frustrated by how many people around me remain stuck in full-time jobs they truly hate, especially when these are low-paying jobs.
There is great amount of space for creativity in any job, but also a lot of have-to-do-it stuff. Isn't it easier to accept this ballance in life and try to reach some perfect spot within it, rather than strive for problem-free or chores-free life? (anyway it would be boring as hell).
At the end, we are all unique. Do what feels right for you, just accept that other out there might have very different goals and drives. I am quite (a lot) happy in my current spot in life and balance I achieved, but I know a few people that would not enjoy it as much.
This is my take as well. If prompted for advice, I tell people to find satisfation outside of work. Work is a rigged game. It simply will not make you happy outside of some truly edge cases and those cases are often temporary until things change. "New boss took away the pinball table. I miss the noisy environment and need it to work!" "New boss won't take away the pinball table! Its too noisy for me to work!"
Its also concerning to make career choices at age 18-22 that will last a lifetime. Young me loved working in tech. Current me could leave it at anytime and kinda wants to. Unfortunately, our employment system isn't set for a mid-life career change, unless you want to take on serious risk and start at the bottom of yet another career mountain to climb, which you may bore of just as fast, if not faster.
My personal wish is to migrate society to accept a very young retirement age. Maybe as early as 50. With automation going where it is, I think this is probably inevitable and am happy to think my kids won't be grueling through work until 65-70 like my parents generation did.
Reminds me of that obscure Bill Murray movie "City of Ember" : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkSFsbv6eUg
We (humanity) are fixing this. Never before in human history has learning the state of the art in any field been freely accessible to anyone.
The tools to create a new world have never been this cheap, and there have never been so many helpful people giving away so much knowledge.
There has never been so much money available for investment, and investment has never been this founder friendly.
There has never been a market of this size this freely reachable, if you have good ideas that are sticky and sharable.
So yes, 8/10 are right now, but we can get that number down. I think custom fabrication using all the new tools, FDM 3D printing being just the start, is a serious contender for making a huge dent in the alienated work problem.
I'm not feeling cynical, not yet. This isn't the end of the story, this is just the beginning, we are alive during the greatest renaissance humanity has ever known, how awesome can we make the world? I think we can make it pretty awesome.
Really? I'm working in Mumbai right now (outsourcing has apparently gone dyslexic, as Russel Peters said). I'll be in rural Karnataka this week, and I'm pretty sure they'd disagree that learning the state of the art in any field is freely accessible to them. And there's 65 million people in that (relatively small) Indian state.
there have never been so many helpful people giving away so much knowledge.
I definitely agree with that, which is why it's hard for people who used to make a living transmitting knowledge. Oh, and a lot of the knowledge being given away so readily includes "how to violently undermine the global capital system that made this information dissemination possible".
Were you working in 1998? I remember those days...
I'm very lucky in that I get to use my talents for low-level programming to work on water purification systems. Mumbai has 10,000 deaths per annum (yes, 10,000) from waterborne illnesses, and it's probably the most developed city in India. But this isn't a problem that needs cleverness; it just needs a whole lot of people to do a very lot of hard, low-paid work. Water in particular gets loaded into the "entrepreneur" model all the time, but it doesn't really fit. You need a lot of people to build a lot of public pipes and faucets, and you need a social contract.
Gates has been asked why he doesn't work on the global digital divide and usually just says "Maslow", and I think he's got a point.
Our privileged perspectives so often cloud our ability to relate to people not that fortunate.
I disagree with the privilege narrative that's become dominant. It's completely zero-sum, when the history of privilege is one of it's extension to more groups and bigger portions of those groups.
In the future all humans will be as privileged as the humans of the west, and much more so. I'm concerned with how we can reach that place faster. Right now I think open source hardware on the reprap model is a fertile hunting ground for game changing solutions.
But I think I am right as well in that we (humans) have never been this able to solve problems like this.
Ballon based Internet and mobile devices will let developing countries leap frog the networking model of the west.
For the problem of clean water in places without public water utilities we need open source hardware projects that design cheap and easy for ordinary people/communities to make from available materials, raw and finished.
Something like a solar still that's so cheap and easy to construct it changes the entire equation.
And I know that sounds hand wavey and politics are still important. But I believe all politics get easier when there is less scarcity, and technology can reduce scarcity. And I can't fix politics, so I'm focusing on all the power I do have to make things better.
Maybe. Maybe not.
My less "book smart" friends that learned blue-collar trades like being a welder or carpenter are much happier than the ones that found white-collar data entry and sales jobs.
They have to put up with crap like unions and graveyard shifts, but in general, they are happier because they get the satisfaction of making things.
I always bought into this mentality of trying to find a job that I really LOVED. The only thing it made me do was switch jobs frequently. I'd love for someone to convince me I'm wrong but the people who seem happiest have basically told me they get satisfaction outside of work and like their job because it enables them to do other things, not because they necessarily love whatever it is they do at their job.
I think Sam is right to say this, though. There are plenty of people holding themselves back.
I hold myself back because I would be sacrificing my family's happiness for my own, and sometimes you have to do your job and get paid until you make and/or are blessed with an opportunity to do better.
Getting an education doesn't mean you can cherry pick jobs.
Edit to add a saying popular in my family: "Ubi amatur non laboratur, aut si laboratur, labor amatur."
Most people are just talk though. They will do what they love if you hand them everything in a silver platter. Well the universe doesn't give a damn about you. You are just star waste.
I'm in the "do what I love even though I'm broke" category, and my background is definitely privileged. My girlfriend on the other hand grew up very poor and had to grind for 10 years before she could even start to consider doing what she loves.
What seems funnier is that even the "elite" seem to have trouble with this part, sometimes even because of their ambition and turning away many people.
So the clear goal to happiness to me is fundamentally "find people that you like and will support you and you will support them, and enjoy each others' company for the short time we do have on this planet. Inspire each other, love each other." This is regardless of whether you're a start-up founder in SF, drug addicted junkie in rural Honduras, or a housewife in Saudi Arabia.
I also disagree very much that everyone in the first world are "elites." Have you ever been to an Indian reservation in New Mexico? How about the backwoods of the Appalachians where there's still snake handler churches that hold services every Sunday at least? There's no running water in half of these places and transportation to the outside might be almost discouraged. Yet so many people will point and go "they're in the richest country in the world, they're PRIVILEGED!" and that's the same tired argument as saying that poor people in the West are "privileged" because they can afford a TV and electricity.
My point is really that your local conditions are EXTREMELY important regardless of what country you're in, period. Your social circles, your family, and even the people you hang out with online all affect you. And if you have none of these... that is rarely a recipe for happiness by anyone's definition aside from the most isolationist of worldviews.
Wealth is about our time. When we can purpose more of our time than others purpose for us, we are more wealthy.
Lots of ways to get at that condition. Having lots of money is one way. Limiting dependencies and costs is another way.
Wealthy people tend to be happy people. And in the sense of time and purpose, I believe that's fairly true.
At least they have a good opportunity to be happy.
The other way is to really think about work, potential paths, and then network, until you find an arrangement that resonates.
For some, it might be working on contract. For others, it might be a good team that gets along well. Still others might want to be working on something novel, or making things. Whatever.
I'm not elite either. And I've managed to spend a lot of my work time doing things I really love.
And that's been difficult for me sometimes too. It's never perfect. That's the work part of work. But, it's possible for a lot of people to take steps, one at a time, to get somewhere they feel good about.
All comes down to what's worth what.
For me, I can't really deal with just living for weekends, or even burning so much time per week. It's gotta all mesh somehow, or I'm on a grind, and it's just not worth it.
The other case is being trapped. Being careful about money limits dependencies, and that can help with aligning work, life, love. Been there a time or two as well, and once that was bad decisions, another time it was happenings that ended up falling on me. Took time to dig out from that.
I've seen it more and more, and it really frustrates me. In my reading it corrupts your ideas with this TED-talky, breathless, pseudo-momentousness, ruining what might otherwise be an interesting point or story. And I guess I'm surprised I'm (apparently) in the minority on this view.
There are a few things. Honestly, I see the text in the input box here, and a sentence appears multi-line, and that will corrupt my perception of how it will appear. That is one basic cause.
Edit: HN should just A/B test this. Make it much wider and see what happens. I know my response will be more robust paragraphs. But what of others?
Another is conversational writing modes are more relaxed generally, though not always. So I care a lot less, often thinking in dialog, writing same, rather than composing in a more structured way. There is a time balance component too. If I'm to participate in some dialogs where I think it makes sense, I manage that investment.
I participate in a variety of venues. If you go back through my threads here, you will find some info on advocacy, and a big part of that is how one's text will flow to readers.
(and this varies a lot!)
Clearly, readers here are more sophisticated, and I see a range of styles, and in general, more paragraphs and more appropriate paragraphs. Fair enough to question my content on that basis. I agree with you.
But, that's not often the norm.
Over time, I've entertained some meta dialog of this kind, and have found breaking things up helps for a lot of people. There is a difference between, say an article, or structured piece, and dialog / sharing kinds of writing.
On narrow devices, mobile, smaller browser windows, etc... it actually does make sense to be a lot more liberal with paragraphs, and I do. I very frequently am using such a device myself. So there is that. Where I've got a keyboard, I find myself more in line with more traditional expectations.
Finally, line breaks sometimes are good for emphasis, and that's my own style. It's not always liked. And that's OK with me. There are some times when I've had to compose a complex sentence, with some logic, if, and, or, either... and the phrases between contain enough words to warrant line breaks in the sentence itself! Some contracts and proposals I've written contain these, and some A/B testing with them was interesting!
I got a lot less questions using line breaks to segment complex information into smaller, consumable, but connected chunks. And those deals just moved too. Not as many issues. In one sense, it really does manage down the hiding of something in a wall of text, "didn't you see that?" style. I prefer that as well. And like I said, it's been productive in that context.
Having said all that. Thanks! Maybe you are not in the minority, and I sure don't want it corrupted on mere style issues.
I'll up the paragraph compliance and see how it goes here. Of course, I'm bound to go looking back through things in some lame attempt to better understand votes and style now too.
Frankly, I'm OK with not being popular, and all that. The dialog here is great. I also know my perspective is not a common one to this crowd too. Fine. My biggest frustration is often downvotes without commentary. I read absolutely great comments here, and very frequently find serious thoughts bubble up from the many discussions. Worth it.
It's OK to be wrong or challenged! We are better for it, but only when there actually is a meaningful dialog associated with all that. Otherwise, it's just all negative and rather useless.
That, of course, is written for passers by in this dialog. I really do wonder what the downvotes are for and what the other party might suggest as an alternative... That's a bit of a ramble. Thanks for just putting it out there. I much prefer it.
Very much agreed. In fact, I think it's far more reassuring to tell young people that the "take what you can get" world they actually experience is real, and that "we adults" aren't secretly sneering at them for failing to "do great work" or "change the world".
Most people just make a living, and that's ok.
A friend of mine once wrote something similar to your sentiments. May have been posted here in the past.
"I don’t like advice like “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Not because it isn’t true, but because it’s a monkey’s paw: it’s true under the right circumstances with the right people, and for everyone else, it’s just bad advice."
Most people in this country and the world do not make nearly enough money to even begin to think like this.
And even when you do care about it, there's no way you know in advance how it's gonna go on the field. A friend is actually pretty sad about his job because of the company structure and workflow even though the domain is almost spot on what he loves.
Work and fulfillment seem unrelated to me.
> And in the truest sense of "most people" I would bet that "most people take whatever work they can get, and sometimes something sticks" is probably more accurate.
I am glad you've brought up this point, but in some ways this "first world problems" narrative is itself elitist: people who are less wealthy, people who live in poor and authoritarian countries (both are sets my parents and I once belonged to) _still_ have concerns about fulfilling work, about balancing professional and/or academic success with family obligations, and suffer from rejection, feelings of inadequacy, failure to live up to expectations of others, and the like.
Even more-so, many of the tradeoffs described play into choices people have to make in regards to joining "the elite". For some, a decision to be happy/fulfilled might mean forsaking the "elite"/"privileged" status. I still remember the waning days of the dot-com boom, when my family's immigration lawyer was horrified that I chose to study CS: "but all the jobs will be outsourced", "computers will program themselves". Programming (or "tech") wasn't held in high esteem when sama and I entered college: class sizes were all times low, (for those who are in Silicon Valley) 237 was the "dot com graveyard", and $1300 for a 2-bedroom within Cupertino school district was considered outrageously high.
Nonetheless, There is an important caveat I would add to what sama says -- and I think you've been hinting it in your post -- "liking what you do for work" isn't the same as "following your passion". Factors such as skill and aptitude for the given work, opportunities for finding such work, etc... all contribute to "liking what you do". I don't know if I am misreading sama or if this is an omission in sama's essay (somehow, I believe it's the former!), but often time liking what one does, also requires building some aptitude in things one (thinks) they don't like: e.g., "I hate maths!" (extrapolated from "I dislike continuous maths the way it was taught in (US) high school, so I never approached discrete maths, linear algebra, etc...") had stopped far too many people from building an enjoyable career in a maths-heavy (but not in any way exclusively mathematical, especially as far as industry work goes) fields. Likewise, "fulfilling" isn't the same as "fun". To paraphrase a person much smarter than me that I worked for -- twice -- eating a good meal is fun, going hiking is fun, watching a movie is fun; building software (or, writing a cookbook, exploring/charting a nature preserve to create safe and sustainable hiking trails, writing a screenplay or acting in a movie, watching a movie critically for a review, etc...) is, on the other hand, fulfilling and deeply enjoyable but not necessarily "fun" (even if I'll call it "fun", as I usually do) in the exact same way.
What troubles though is the following: Most people (if not all people) know already that, eating well, sleeping well, being organised, etc. is paramount to live a good life, have a good work and so on. All of these things are more personal than anything. Why, do we still don't do these things? What is about human nature that makes us weak enough NOT to do the right thing?
We could argue it's impossible for someone to do it due to external circumstances of being less privilege; think about some of the public figures who made it? Are these people doing the impossible more privileged than you are?
Privileged? Hardly. I worked a regular job for many years while spending years of my free time and weekends to create a business where I can now choose what I work on.
Most people aren't willing to sacrifice time now to enjoy comforts later. I don't consider it privilege that I did..and neither should the many people working on startups.
Then you did not have a regular job. You had a job that paid you enough to support yourself while retaining enough free time and mental energy to pursue your startup idea. For most people, this is not the case (esp. the mental energy bit).
I guess maybe the issue is in the definition of what a "regular job" is... Over the past 15 years I've always worked at what I would call regular jobs, full-time jobs at large companies where people build careers. Many of these jobs included an on-call rotation. Until our first child came into the picture I was able to, and did, work on various other projects outside of work with the hopes of one of them making it big. None of them did but that work put me in a place where within the last couple of years I have been able to essentially pick my job and work at my desired pay. Now that our child is a bit older I've also gone back to working on smaller projects outside of my daily work schedule.
Seriously. Mental energy is impacted by a lot of things. And I've had to come up the hard way, just due to my circumstances early on.
Doing this gets harder as we age. But under 30?
It's there for an awful lot of people who want it. There is one's own drive, and there are the kinds of friends one makes and how time is used.
For the longest time, I read one tech book a month. Just needed to gain perspective. I also turned the TV off.
The amount of time this frees up is AMAZING.
Networking pays too.
And for some people, that's starting a business. For others, it's self-employment / contract work. Still others, it's taking hobbies and spinning them into skills they love to exploit.
Lots of ways to get this done. And frankly, doing it consumes 10 to 20 percent of one's free time outside of a 40 - 50 hour work week.
That's not too much time. Just turning the TV off delivers that time for a very large number of people.
There is a clear cost for some jobs too. Where those work demands punch up above 50 hours, it really does start to get tough to do other things. Sadly, we've a lot of people stitching several basic jobs together and that eats a lot of their time.
But for many, who are just working full time, it's possible to make personal investments.
And what a lot of people don't get is the compounding that comes from doing that consistently.
One hour a day spent on this kind of thing compounds better than 5 hours on Saturday does. (though it's really nice to do both!)
Simple things, like just getting up early, make a big impact. Eating healthy, managing sleep to 6 hours instead of 8.5...
What is worth what?
Many people don't see a pay off they can visualize and believe they can actualize, so it's not worth it, and so they don't do it.
Setting aside difficult circumstances, it's often that simple.
I did have a 'regular job'. Most people party, hang out with their friends, and do plenty of other things in their free time. If you have the mental energy to do any of these things (or a hobby), you have the mental energy to start a company.
I worked 50 hours a week coding. Did I always have the mental energy? Of course not. But I had the discipline to continue on..even when I didn't 'feel' like it.
"For most people, this is not the case (esp. the mental energy bit)."
Most people don't want to sacrifice their fun time. I found this to be the case when I tried to find co-founders. All liked the idea of a startup, but none wanted to sacrifice their TV, friends, or bar time. It's one of the reasons why I have a successful company today..and most don't.
Building a future generally costs us 10 to 20 percent of our "fun" time, or personal time.
So what you're telling me is that most people can't just pursue their passion as their job but instead have to work a job they certainly do not enjoy in order to fund their real passion and hopefully make it into a career. That is, if they are lucky enough that their passion is actually a viable career option.
Sounds like you're agreeing with the person you're replying to, or am I misinterpreting what you said?
But even then, your anecdote only speaks for yourself. There are many people who are indeed privileged by exceptional class or talent and who don't even need to suffer through the sacrifices that you did. Doors have been swung open for them their whole live, while others (like yourself) have to open those same doors with a crowbar, and others still (like the OP's 8/10) will never even get to see the door.
There are so many things that make your actions highly specific to your situation, and that's a privilege that you have.
Don't expect perfection, because you won't get it.
I think one of the reasons is that I don't care about social status or material possessions or competing at who can make the best chat app or anything like that, and work just feels like a grind to me. Sure, some of it is better than other parts, but in the end, I'd always rather be doing something else. I also am not usually impressed with other peoples' career achievements, and getting a promotion or a better job doesn't give me any sort of feeling of accomplishment or 'high', just, well I guess I'm a few years closer to being wealthy enough to get out of this bullshit.
A lot of people will look down on me for this, but I'm ok with that as I'm not trying to win a popularity contest. I just don't think "work hard" is necessarily the best advice to all people. I do think work is important as it's a means of contributing to society, and in the end, I'm glad I did my part, but after I have enough to "get out", I'll have satisfied my conscience to spend the rest of my days having good times and doing things that really make me happy.
"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."
The article contains a lot of good, sensible statements. But it was clearly written for, and by, someone with far more ambition than I'll ever have.
Maybe I'm just burned out from all the Work Hard rhetoric that got me here, but nobody on their death bed laments that they didn't spend enough time at the office.
Perhaps, but a lot may have lamented not having more financial security.
> A lot of the points can be boiled down to "work very
> hard". But what if you simply are the type of person who
> doesn't like working? Another point is do what makes you
> happy. For some lucky folks, work makes them happy, but
> there's a lot of us who don't like it.
You laden "work" with a lot of assumptions.
A slightly cynical person might point out that the CEO of a VC has much to gain by blogging about the virtues of "working very hard" to those who might form startups.
I'm glad i'm not the only one who feels this way sometimes.
Boss said "This won't do. You'll have to examine your priorities."
I thought about it all day, that night. Next morning I got to work (5 minutes late), went in his office, said "I examined my priorities. Work is #12." and I left.
It is kind of sad how many boss/manager types still fail miserably on this point, and then complain about not being able to hire "good people".
Things that I think are important:
* Give some small but significant (~week-level) milestones, ideally with tangible results. Then discuss these.
* Check up with the worker. Not by asking vague questions about how things are going, but specific questions about stuff that interests you in their work. I once worked on three projects at once for a place. Two of them were going very well, but one of them was going very slowly because I was kind of stuck. Getting input from the boss on that one really helped -- but I'd never have asked him about it, because I reasoned he'd hired me so he didn't have to worry about it.
* Help with any other stuff on their plate. Family issues, money issues, personal issues, etc. Obviously, you can't solve most stuff like this, but you can usually help. I once delivered a contract very late due to getting a wrist injury, and being unable to promptly see a doctor.
* Try to keep a dialogue going about work. Whether you're happy with their performance, whether they're happy with your pay/conditions, etc. Crucially, if any of the above ideas seem like overkill, you'll find out about this, and dial them down accordingly.
One idea that I use is - set your own hours. But then please adhere to your own schedule. If you want to start at noon, that's totally cool. But, actually start working reasonably close to noon. If your schedule changes, that's cool too. But let me know what that is and, again, adhere to your own schedule.
Getting uptight over being 5 minutes late is not really necessary in my opinion unless it's for an important client meeting or something.
There's two levels here: at the first level, you don't want to sweat anyone (capable or otherwise) about coming to work late because it indicates fundamentally messed up priorities: you aren't paying them to keep a seat warm. If you set them free to come in whenever they want, they will. If it gives you indigestion because you have no idea where your employees are, you need to figure out why that is and solve the real problem (and if the real problem is "my boss thinks I'm not doing my job if I'm not sweating my employees about seat-warming", my condolences, because you are totally fucked).
Don't confuse this with people who advocate self-management, where you just trust your people to do the right thing and set them loose without any structure at all. That's a much more subtle skill that requires the right relationships and the right situation and frankly is a gigantic hassle. If you've got a group of unmanageable geniuses who seem to be productive despite the chaos feel free to try but most teams who get things done do not operate this way and don't let the woo-woo peddlers tell you otherwise.
You're doing pretty well if the people who work for you feel like you have real, specific expectations of them but also have 'wiggle room' to do anything they want (just not everything they want).
Without being oriented, they won't know what questions to ask and then after a week of slowly plodding through the code trying to piece things together, will be too embarrassed to ask.
My team just took tons of heat because there was a complex performance issue that needed our full attention. We clearly communicated that we would need a large chunk of time to solve it, and while we tried to stay responsive, a lot of stuff had to just get ignored for a while to be able to make any progress on it.
We're finished now, and what we did will eventually save the client literally months of time over the long run, but because we weren't constantly placating the people who wanted to see the job "getting done," we put ourselves at risk of losing the contract.
All's well that ends well, I guess. We finished the task, and now we're back to churning through the high visibility low-effort issues and everyone's happy again, but all of those small issues combined don't have as much impact as the big task we just finished.
Then the first time you decide to do so all every one ever sees is "Oh this guy is really harsh, what a jerk".
Such is life. I'd LOVE for pointers on this.
I'm fully aware there are people who are "smart" but don't "get things done". However (though I am lacking any rigorous data to back this up) my suspicion is that people in this category who are prone towards taking advantage of employers are going to do so no matter what and being lax about strict attendance rules won't have a substantial impact on it.
IOW, just because they are (forced to be) present from 9am-5pm or whatever the defined working hours are doesn't mean they won't spend most of that time fucking off on reddit on their personal cellphone or whatever and they would have been problem employees whether or not the rules were loose -- if anything I suspect having loose rules makes it easier to identify when someone is not pulling their weight because there's a lot of ways to appear really busy to others while doing nothing when you're actually physically present.
But there are very few scenarios where "you're five minutes late" is a sane thing for a manager to complain about. If you have someone with a consistent pattern of slacking off, that's one thing; if you have someone who is showing up five minutes late, but is otherwise a good employee, then just back off.
Or, at the very least approach them from a perspective of "is anything going on that I could help with?". As in, is there a way work could be more flexible to make things easier for them?
Unless you are heading to a meeting instantly or opening the store or whatever, why does 5 minutes matter? Why does 10 minutes matter? Even 10 minutes every single working day shaved off would be <= 2% time lost. It really is negligible.
You're not going to suddenly turn around your productivity by adding a few minutes to your work day. Most of us spend more than that making coffee.
Many of us are well acquainted with the indirect communication from ticket systems, email, and other sources of social noise. We're used to managers who can take a collection of tickets and email, and deduce what their reports are doing. But many people are unable to do this, or untrained.
And since they are taught to be suspicious that you're stealing from the company (as all mediocre managers are) they mistrust the tickets, email, and other documentation you create.
This lies at the heart of the problems plaguing our Industry. The people doing the direction and management are nothing more than glorified email routers. Often who got lucky, and got promoted and now simply try to maintain their positions through command and control.
They really don't do relationships with people. They just want the cogs to mesh, the stuff to get done, etc...
Also, even though not everyone comes in at the same time usually there are "core hours" where everyone is expected to be in the office. At my last job this was from 10-3. I don't think it's too unreasonable for a team to be able to find some time when everyone can be in the office, especially when it's only a few hours long.
Of course, this could all be simulated as well if people had work environments. Still, I find face to face interaction much better than trying to communicate online, even with video chat. Maybe it's just about finding the right software to help, but I find being able to talk at the white board invaluable.
I don't think it's unreasonable, either. In fact, I think it's necessary to run a successful business with more than one person. However, it's not "absurd" to have some definition of late or to expect some consistency in when particular people arrive. That said, the original described case is overly and unnecessarily rigid.
Teams certainly need the flexibility to adjust their organization in order to best accomplish their goals. Most of the problems with large corporate bureaucracy come because someone up the chain wants to impose control by dictating how every group organizes.
However, at some level there needs to be a team of people working together to accomplish goals, and that team needs a program to get with. Now, if all that is meant by "come when you want" is that each team is free to determine what their own program is, then I misunderstood the point being made and my original comment on it does not apply. There does need to be some sort of accountability, though, or the team dynamic collapses. In the context of a company, this has to be integrated with whatever policies the company as a whole has.
Same issue with unlimited vacation time.
"Oh, so that's your game. Well, I know it, can play it, can play it well. Bring it on."
Of all the situations to invoke the famous quote "Thank you Sir may I have another" I feel the best with a simple schedule.
There always have been and will be dominance rituals. Some would have been physical fights, but in modern office culture punching subordinates is seen as unacceptable - but some people still need some dominance rituals - and picking a fight over "do as I tell you and turn up on time, thus demonstrating I am the dominant one" is pretty tame stuff compared to a silver back ripping your ear off.
Except for anyone who does daily standups first thing in the morning.
As interesting as a story this is, is it really the only reason you chose to leave? Did you enjoy the work and did you try and negotiate at all? I don't mean to criticize your prioritization but the decision seems a little impulsive given how you described it. As you mentioned you gave your priorities a lot of thought, but what about the decision itself?
That made him think for a bit.
Being expected to 'work a small amount in the evenings and weekends' is ridiculous if you're not being compensated for that.
The friction here is probably from someone used to working in one of the job fields like this coming into an office environment where your hours aren't as relevant as the quality and volume of your work.
I will say though, I was a lead developer at my last job and I had some issues with an employee (with two young kids) not putting in forty hours a week, and he wasn't otherwise making up for it either. He'd be the last one in and the first one out, and it was problematic because he was supposedly the senior developer on the team but he was not meriting his higher salary. In the end I suppose you could say the real problem was with his output, not his hours, but they did seem like interrelated issues.
You can have supply teachers on call. Or you can pay them a bit extra to arrive early and mark work in that time. (e.g. make the actual working day 5-6 hours; other hours used for marking, planning, etc). There are other solutions.
One that sticks out in my mind is that when I used to work retail, our hourly pay stopped when the store closed. Obviously you don't and can't leave then. The last customer is slow, you might need to lock up, etc.
In most cases, all you need is for management to actually think about these issues and to not allow the quest for margins to result in abusive practices.
When you're a contractor then yes, you are The One, you have chosen and need to be reliable. When you are part of a massive organization with profit in the billions (e.g. a supermarket), it really is a deliberate choice they are making which results in stress being loaded on you.
Right now you're making the same kind of judgements of the boss as he is making of you.
Your ex boss is an idiot, if he thought that putting you on the spot over 5 minutes was the right thing to do in that situation.
It's your boss that should review his priorities. Does he want clockwatchers or productive and happy employees?
> Next morning I got to work (5 minutes late)
You showed him!
edit: No, absolutely. Leaving 5 minutes earlier is _not_ an option. How dare he.
There may be a better version of this article out there, but the essence is that it's not too late to start to be great at something. So don't let the stress of a successful 30 year old get you wound up.
I'm looking to do it again too, but not for a while. I've got some unfinished business with this one.
A mentor of mine is late in life now. We've had a 20 year dialog on this. Never, ever too late.
(anyone know the W.Blake drawing?)
in another decade 19yr olds will be drafting up long blog posts about recipes for success, how they made it, legacy concerns et al.
its like the old man's domain got poached, and now old people have nothing to say they are so far out there .. :]
I would have worded this as:
"Always put your family, friends, and significant other at the top on your priority list."
Or, at the very least, "above work".
> "Always put your family, friends, and significant other
> at the top on your priority list." Or, at the very
> least, "above work".
Some people are important people to prioritize in your life, but just because they happen to be a friend, related, or you're dating them is not a reason to put them above your other priorities.
Answering "Where am I going?" and "Who am I going there with?" in the wrong order is a mistake.
I got slapped in the face doing that in middle school.
It's really the loss of none but their own, and it's just too bad that they consistently fail to see it.
I see women on Twitter complaining about "creeps" all the time even when they aren't doing anything I'd consider creepy.
It's true that having a child forces any responsible adult into revisiting their priorities, and some things that seemed important before parenthood suddenly aren't. I don't think it eliminates a desire to be successful: I think that it changes the parameters by which you determine success.
And having a child throw up/mess on your nice clothes and shower the inside of your nice car with food and toys tends to make you settle for less in those departments, I admit.
Prior to kids, I considered success to be pulling down a six-figure salary, having a nice big house and my own office at a high-profile, successful company. Now? Success is having a quiet office (size unimportant but preferably my own), enjoyable work and time to spend it with my kids before they are old enough to leave home.
It is worth it, and anybody without kids who says otherwise knows not of which they speak. Parenthood is the difference between knowing the path and walking the path. If you're not a parent, you've just read the brochure.
> It is worth it, and anybody without kids who says otherwise knows not of which they speak.
Marriage and parenthood have both transformed my life in really amazing ways. Having a family relying on me has made me a better, happier person, and it's brought me a stronger sense of purpose. I had kids early, and my friends thought I was crazy, and I used to try to change their minds: you've no idea what you're missing, I told them! You've got to try it!
I still think parenthood is life-changingly amazing, but as I've watched more of my contemporaries get married have kids... a lot of them are pleased as punch, but at least a few don't seem to be. I've begun to temper my advocacy of getting married and having kids to people who aren't sure if it's for them. Maybe they're not sure for a reason. People who've never been parents can't know how great it might be without trying it, but I've learned that I can't extrapolate perfectly from my experience, either.
Can deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune against yourself as an adult by time/getting used to it, and just becoming old school tough. Which don't work for parenting a sick kid.
I think that is a good example of re prioritization.
That's some gross generalization. Any childless bachelor could know what the "path" is like by staying over with a friend that has a child and helping out for some time.
On the other hand, parents that walk the path and later find out they're not cut out for it, have to suffer quietly, and can't voice their true opinions, because it's taboo; because no one can dare fathom someone might not like kids, and so many get pressured into having them without having what it takes.
Having children isn't like having a dog or being a part-time nanny or live-in tutor. It is a multi-decade commitment to raising another human being from infancy to adulthood with all of the frustrations and joys -- yes, joys -- that come along with it.
"On the other hand, parents that walk the path and later find out they're not cut out for it, have to suffer quietly, and can't voice their true opinions, because it's taboo..."
Who are these parents, quietly suffering? I've seen a lot of crappy parents, who complain about their kids. I've seen a lot of deadbeat parents, who up and abandon their kids. And I've seen a ton of childless adults playing backseat parent.
If you've got some studies and numbers to back up this apparent crisis of parenting victims, please share.
Also I didn't say (live-in tutor) == (being a parent). I said it's a way one can know what the path is like. Just like you can tell what the ocean is like by watching a movie of the ocean.
The onus is not on me. I have done my research: I am a parent, and that's the position I'm promoting.
If you can't defend your own position, don't expect somebody else to.
Don't come to a gunfight and expect somebody else to loan you ammo. If you can't be bothered to even dredge up some links, don't bother trying to debate with the adults.
I'm childless and I don't really agree with your point. Staying with a friend that has a child and helping out isn't the same as having a child. You are able to (and will) leave at some point.
A parent has to deal with the, in my opinion, heavy knowledge that this human being's continued existence and future is mostly in their hands. That small and large decisions will now have small and large consequences for not just themselves but for their child/ren. It changes your perspective on just about everything because of this and most people can't fathom that change (is the argument.)
Ain't that true. Where it hits you as a parent is when you leave the hospital and then realize that there's no one to give you a spell, check your mistakes, process the return. I can imagine how grandparents must enjoy children, free of the ultimate responsibility.
I think the "us against them" mentality is where the child-free peeps are seen as narcissistic individuals who don't take on this important responsibility. Her argument was that it's kinda of a false dichotomy, and there are plenty of ways for child-free couples to contribute to society while parents by definition, have to have priorities of their children taking place over society at large.
Not to mention it is facetious to say that parents are selfless in the first place as there are many selfish reasons to have children.
However, I'd love to hear more about people who decided not to have children and whether they felt like they have contributed to society in some other way, whether by their works, their association with their associates or associates' childrens.
I don't want to have kids not because they left a bad taste in my mouth (I still love them: they were young, made a mistake, but still tried), but because I never got to experience all the things I wanted to as a child. So my life as a 20/30 something is dedicated to experiencing the world. Finding joy in others, in travels, in food, and in contribution.
That said, if children were ever to be an option, it must be adoption. It is so incredibly selfish to say that the (non-existent) child you might produce with a partner is more deserving of safety, freedom, and a fulfilling life, than an already living person. Granted, adoption is full of its own political and socioeconomic issues.
Regardless, I have a serious driving interest in making that future better. I have no idea if it's as much motivation as a parent has, but it's still a very big motivator.
This is a important point which i struggled as well. As a teenager, i had my lived closely with two of my cousins ( from when they were newborn to primary school). Then as an adult with a another cousins children. But, when my daughter was born, i was totally surprised at the transformation i had undergone. I believe nothing can prepare you for having a child. I discussed this my wife and cousins as well and they too agree. There is something special about the parental feelings which needs you to be a parent.
> because no one can dare fathom someone might not like kids
Everyone can agree that raising children is not a bed of roses. There are lots of struggles, sacrifices and challenges. And more importantly its a long term commitment. Some people willingly make sacrifices and do micro management or spend a lot of time on parenting. Some are easy on parenting part and some offload the whole thing to nanny or grandparents. All of them like the good parts of being a parent but would like to trim down on the less favourable aspects. So its not about "not liking the kids" but finding a right balance in parenting in what you could do.
Having said that, I believe that having a child should not be an impulsive act but rather a conscious decision by both partners. If your partner or the circumstances are unfavourable then better not let another individual also struggle through it. But, still the whole feeling is so wonderful that its better to work towards a direction to setup the things for being a parent and enjoy through it.
But I don't like the thought that as soon as you have a child, you instantly have to be defined by that. Is reproduction really the meaning to life? (Biologists say absolutely). And saying you don't have to be successful anymore is very strange to me. Why wound't you need to be successful professionally to provide or personally to be happy? Don't you want your child to be successful, not rich but personally successful however they grow to define it? and shouldn't you show that to them by example?
Not so much defined by that. Instead, motivated by entirely new impulses. Its not that you change your mind about success. Your mind changes, and that isn't a bad thing.
> Your mind changes
> and that isn't a bad thing
I'm very suspicious about that. Every new experience has the chance of changing the way you think, it's natural. But for something to have that much of an impact it has to involve a lot of brain chemistry. And I don't trust in being intoxicated by hormones, I'd rather use other, safer drugs for this.
I'm glad you brought this up. There's nothing that's forced upon you, you are not defined by this. It just happens so that most people change their priorities voluntarily and happily when they have a child.
I personally continue pursuing professional success, of course. The difference is that if I become unsuccessful for any reason then the world won't collapse. So it just becomes much less important.
You may lose finite things like time, but not your identity. Parenthood only uncovers more of it.
The other aspect of parenthood is it brings your life design into sharp focus. Proximity to bars and restaurants and hip furnishings suddenly take a very distant back seat to access to quality neighbourhoods, schools and places to spend time with your kids. Old friends snigger that you don't go out anymore and figure your life must be so boring - sometimes they act sympathetically when you spend another Friday night in. They don't realise Friday nights in with a young family are great fun.
"Let's say gravity suddenly shifted a little making everyone a little bit lighter. It would likely make the news circuit for a while and make movers and other professional lifters particularly happy.
But after the scientists had explained again and again why it happened and all the potential story lines had been exhausted by newspapers and television pundits, religious zealots and idle conversationalists (“How about that gravity?”), we would accept it, perhaps with a individual joy all our own.
Which is to say, even though a slight shift in gravity on Earth literally changes everything on our home planet, after awhile we’d adjust. Occasionally we might think back to the days before gravity changed with wonder and even nostalgia, but we’d know that everything being lighter is just better on one of those annoyingly and truistically difficult-to-communicate levels and continue with the practice of everyday life, with appropriate changes to this new state of lightness.
Parenting for me is something like this."
This is by LA writer and critic Andrew Berardini, seen in http://www.broodwork.com/index.php?/projects/andrew-berardin....
Then again there are some mental case parents, who lose all social connections, gain 100lb and can never be seen again by their friends. Just don't be that. I have former friends like that, it is some kind of North American phenomenon. For me it feel so nuts I really don't get how people become that.
I don't want to slam your well put, positive point, but this was not true for me at least. Getting married and having kids has motivated me to work hard and aim high - I could have (and did) sat around on my ass playing video games for the rest of my life. Different strokes for different folks, but I'm a far more driven person after gaining responsibilities than before.
But you sound like you're measuring success by your role in the workplace. I'll bet they care a lot more about your role as a father.
Your thirties expand and narrow your world: expansion into parenting (for many) and to richer relationships, if you can survive them, with spouses. But now you know your limits, and the sky is no longer it. There's a contraction of options, but the few options you have grow deeper.
By forty you know you have nothing to prove or, contrariwise, you've proven just how limited you are. You've made your bed and you're lying in it. For many this is a crisis and they struggle to break free, but there's no escaping it: you're older. You feel your own age in your mind and body (knees? back? eyes?) truly for the first time. But once you get over the shock, you realize that you're still young enough. You also realize, if you've stayed at the hard work of marriage and parenting and building skills and opportunities for a career, that you've got a lot to be confident about. You're humbler, but more powerful and capable, than ever.
I haven't reached 50 yet so I have to stop there.
Experience something horrible.
I grew up in a ridiculously perfect fantasyland. My parents, who have an ideal marriage, told me I was the best at everything, encouraged every dream I had, paid for college and insulated me from all of life's difficulties re: money, stress, etc.
To make matters worse, I excelled right along with the praise -- made good grades, got into a top-10 college, started a company after college which was lifestyle-profitable for 7 years. (It could have been a major score if I'd executed better, but that's beside the point.)
When my company started to decline post-2008, I had to go get a job. I excelled at it, but got crossways with my boss for entirely personal reasons and was fired.
This back-to-back double-whammy was by far the worst experience of my life. I'd never experienced failure or rejection and my psyche/ego simply didn't know how to handle it. I sunk into a depression for 3 years. It's not hyperbole to say I almost didn't survive it.
But I'm on the other side of it now. The darkness is receding. I know this because I know the double-whammy was entirely necessary for me. The spoiled brat is gone. I empathize with others. I care about the journey people have taken to the point where I meet them. None of that mattered before. It was all me, me, me, the worldbeater.
Yeah I'm in my mid 30s now and the past 5 years were tough. But I'm glad I've already spanned the chasm now than in my mid-50s. Now I'm better prepared for things to come.
One slightly separate piece: I used to have massive entrepreneurial angst. I was a person who looked at those who have "made" it and got angry. Angry at lack of co-founders. Angry that my school's alumni network doesn't have the best SV connections. Angry at perceived ageism in tech circles... But now I know that all advantages others might have on you -- better schooling, younger, lucky career breaks, etc -- can be trumped by one thing: traction. It doesn't matter if you're white, black, purple, one-armed, blind, gay or republican -- If you have something worth investing in, you can find investors. Period.
Related to this: if you have kids yourself, or you're in a position of providing guidance for kids, keep providing a safe and consistent environment for them yourself, but teach them that the world is not fair, that adults are not always right and not always consistent, that they themselves are not always the smartest person in the room (nor should they always want to be), and that other people care about themselves much more than them.
Or, in short, don't just teach them that the world is awesome (though it can be); teach them how to get what they want out of a world that's not out to hand it to them.
Sports, IMO, are one of the best ways that families that have everything "put together" can show their kids some adversity. And for kids, everything is local. So while losing a basketball game, isn't like a dad losing a job, for the kid it can still seem like a really big deal.
In that regard, it's all about calibration. If you're the smartest person in the room, good for you, but you should also find another room where there's more challenge to be had and more fun to be had.
Note that all levels of accomplishment are something to celebrate; I'm not suggesting the kind of "nothing is ever good enough" reaction that leads to kids doing things they don't actually have an interest in doing. However, when you find an area of interest, go deep into it and find creative challenges that push you to go even further.
Also, those kinds of competitions, whether sports or academic, aren't necessarily a sufficient view into human nature. For example, most competitions like that have a clear set of rules and take a dim view of cheaters, while many other aspects of life reward creatively "cheating" to get ahead over always doing things the long way like everyone else is. Consider how people talk about finding a creative solution that takes less work: "I could have written a complete implementation of $foo myself, but I cheated by hacking $bar into mostly doing it for me, and it worked well enough to get the job done." See also Larry Wall's praise of "laziness, impatience, and hubris".
A consistent process and consistent rules produces consistent results; that's good for not doing worse than normal, but it also means you'll never find a way to do better than normal.
Find ways to reward creative solutions over unthinking rule-following. Play games that rely on creative deception and hidden information. In a competition with rules, follow the rules; in life, have a set of principles you live by, but don't automatically respect every arbitrary rule, especially the implicit unwritten ones that nobody questions. Just make sure you understand the implications and consequences, because it might be there for a reason rather than solely for the sake of arbitrariness.
There is absolutely something transformative about being purified by fire (trials), which sorts helps sort out your priorities.
I look back with amazement on that period which defined who I am more than any other period. What I learnt always that I could get back on my feet, I could turn things around, and when I did, I no longer took things for granted, whether that was jobs, friendships, relationships and more.
I almost pity anyone who hasn't gone through a rough period as they haven't been able to test out who they really are.
I never felt comfortable with people from my generation. I seemed to become friends with people older than myself. I didn't do it on a conscious level, but it happened. I would buy things like 8 person rafts, double kayaks, huge tents. Everything I planned for had another close person/girlfriend in mind.
They all passed away.
As to money, save that money you made in your 20-30's. For some reason(I think testosterone) most of the people I knew in life made the big money in their 20-30's. These were people without fancy degrees--four year degree at best.
Oh yea, you can be the best at a lot of things, and feel like you are on top of the world. You can feel like you can accomplish anything. All that can change overnight with mental illness. I had a slight nervous breakdown(not psychotic), and I went from being one of the better students in graduate school--to someone who couldn't drive to the school a week later. Life has been a struggle since. I tried therapy and it just didn't help. Prescription drugs did alleviate some of the missery, but I am now addicted to two drugs going on twenty years. There was no history of mental illness in my family. I didn't even feel stressed when I brokedown. (I did have a fear of death. I had typical worries of a twenty something year old.) I just blew a gasket. Yes, after dealing with psychiatrists who really didn't have any answers--that's what I feel what happened. I know it's rare. None of my classmates from high school/college experienced anything close to my symptomology. It did get better with time though. I usually don't tell anyone because I know it's rare. I do have a innate understanding of homelessness because of my condition though, and cringe when I hear, "You can do anything! It just takes proper planning!". Sometimes your brain just goes haywire.
I have a wide array of friends, and what I've found is some of them become mentors, and we become mentors and it can all add up to this nice resonance where we give and receive energy, perspective, help, opportunity.
Even though you're young, try and still go to the doctor every once in a while for checkups. But even if you don't like going to doctors, don't just ignore pain in your body. For example, ignoring a sore wrist or back, or ignoring digestive and sleep issues can easily lead to life-long disabilities.
It's also common for people to experience mental health issues (in a way that starts to impact relationships and work performance) for the first time in their early 30s...
It's a fairly common event, but it's generally really scary for everyone involved. Getting stable with medication and then also working with a trained therapist can help you pull through this.
Happiness is fleeting; satisfaction is lasting. We all need to play and just be happy - I'm not arguing against that. But longer term, I've often felt we're better off figuring out what makes us satisfied at the end of each day. When I'm on my deathbed, I want to be satisfied with the way I spent my life. I know that my "deathbed" could come today, or it could come 50+ years from now. That's a wild range.
Commit to yourself now that you won't let work expand to fill the time alotted. Don't accept that from yourself, and don't accept that from others. (Within reason; everything can't get done overnight, but a "multi-year research project" often doesn't really need many person-years worth of effort, it just turns out that way because people let it.)
Do your best not to off yourself until your parents are dead. Avoid romantic relationships and avoid inflicting your accursed genes on another generation. Do not make promises that you cannot keep.
Seek out and savor close friends. Know yourself and treat yourself with kindness. Reflect on your astonishing fortune to have been born in a time and place where someone like you has a shot at enjoying life.
Some people will attempt to persuade you that living in agony is virtuous. It is not. Tell them white lies.
2) Save, save and save more. Spend your money on things that matter (such as visiting your family more). I worry about the future of labor in the US.
SAVE, SAVE, SAVE, SAVE, SAVE. Seriously, if you don't want to have to be working for the rest of your life it's time to start saving now. Maximize earnings. Maximize savings. I just realized at 31 how much savings opportunity I wasted over the past 7 years... Actually, I don't even want to calculate it up. I'm focused on the future.
And sleep more.
- not everything in the world can be expressed as an equation
- conserve your body as if your life depends on it, it does
- there is a story behind everybody
The more you invest, the more you are likely to benefit over time.
In fact you may be surprised more than anything else out there. In many cases, even more than careers, job, raises and promotions- investments play a very critical role in how well you are going to do financially.
> Start saving and investing as early as you can. If you
> haven't, do it on a war footing. Get rid of debt.
The decisions I made, the things I learned, the rash choices I made, decisions to quit jobs and do something exciting when I couldn't afford it, randomly moving to another country without any kind of security net, dumb startups that I didn't have the savings to bootstrap properly, holidays I took that I couldn't afford, needing to execute on things because without it I wouldn't eat, starting (and then finishing) an expensive degree I couldn't afford, the partying I did...
I wouldn't change it for a thing. If I die tomorrow, I will have lived.
Those experiences are what have put me in the very solid earning position I'm in now. I save nearly 70% of what I earn, I've been out of debt and had solid savings for a while, and I have a great standard of living.
Leaving it all to Lady Luck and hoping that it works out OK in the end is obviously a risky strategy, but the idea that your 20s should be about scrimping and saving rather than getting out there and screwing stuff up is equally risky.
1. Good friends are more valuable than cool friends. Learn who to trust and who's a flake. Remain friends with the flakes, but don't rely on them.
2. Don't stay where you're unhappy. Give it some time, then move on. Try something else.
3. Focus, focus, focus when you're doing one thing. Other times, branch out.
4. When you're young you are time rich and cash poor; when you're old you are cash rich and time poor. Don't put things off until you're older - travelling when retired will not inform your life.
5. The happiest people have good work-life balance. This may not go down well on HN, but having seen people around the world living different lives, this is a general observation. A relative was a counsellor, and he told me "No-one [at the end of their life] ever wishes they'd spent more time at the office." Perhaps working long hours for a while with a view to achieving this balance later is OK.
6. Forget the money. https://vimeo.com/63961985
7. Take holidays. Regularly. Force yourself to.
8. The secret to stamina is sleep.
9. Mix with people of all demographics, or you will end up with a narrow view of life.
10. If you've thought about doing something for a long time, you should probably do it.
11. If you're having a conversation with someone about breaking up with your partner, then it is time to break up, or at least, take a break and see how it feels - don't waste your time and your partner's time procrastinating.
12. In relationships, you should always make extra effort, even when you've already made extra effort. Relationships take a lot of work, long-term. Surprise your partner.
13. Really listen to people. It's such a hard skill to develop. Start today.
14. Realise how lucky you are to wake up with hot water, heating, and nice food. Many people in the world don't have these luxuries. Living on no money when travelling is a good way to learn this.
15. Travel. But don't party the whole time. Often travelling is best done mid-late 20s when you've done the partying thing. Stay with local people. Don't plan too much. Get into the countryside.
16. If you're writing an email and it feels uncomfortable, you should probably not send it. Or at least wait for the morning :-).
17. Sometimes, deciding to do nothing is a decision in itself. Solutions can present themselves.
18. Have a huge party every birthday. Don't fight ageing, embrace it and celebrate being alive :-).
19. Don't criticise things without providing an alternative. If you feel angry in an argument, you're probably wrong.
20. Don't do a PhD straight after you graduate.
21. When in love in a relationship, throw yourself into it. Don't have regrets. Always tell people how you feel. It may be a car-crash at the time, but you'll learn from it and feel better about it your whole life.
22. At the end of your life, they're going to put you in a box in a hole in the ground, and that's it. Every moment of life is precious. When you're on your deathbed, even the idea of one more normal day at work will look unimaginably brilliant. Develop that feeling now.
23. Meditate. Unlearn what you have learned.
24. Whenever you think something nice about a person, say it. There's enough negativity in the world. Love your friends and tell them you love them.
25. Read books. Lots and lots of books. Read "East of Eden" by Steinbeck. You'll see why.
26. In love, in work, in life, never ever settle. It is better to be alone than to marry a person you don't truly love.
27. When giving people advice, they usually only want you to confirm their decision. Listen and talk things over. And even if you do give them advice, they'll just ignore and do what they want in the long-term.
28. Old(er) people are a great source of wisdom, but you won't take their advice seriously until you've experienced it yourself.