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80,000 Hours

One of the podcasts I enjoy is The Tim Ferris Show. I’m reading one of Tim’s books, Tools of Titans, which is a collection of his previous podcast guests (entrepreneurs, world class performers, politicians, military generals, movie stars, etc.) and the wisdom from them. I’m also subscribed to his email newsletter. From one of those e-newsletters, I learned about a nonprofit called 80,000 Hours.


Tim's podcast has over 800 million downloads and the people he interviews in his podcast are highly successful based on various measures (how do you define success, right? There are various ways to define it.). I respect the work Tim does and appreciates his content - most of his content has been quite interesting and helpful.

Most of the times, advertisements are not my preferred way to learn about new things whether they are products or services. But I did learn a few useful things from advertisements especially when they are shared by trustworthy people. This nonprofit, 8,000 Hours, is one of those cases.

“You have roughly 80,000 hours in your career. That’s 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year for 40 years. They add up and are one of your biggest opportunities, if not the biggest opportunity, to make a positive impact on the world.”


This is how Tim introduced 80,000 Hours. When I read this paragraph, I thought to myself “ah shit, we have only 80,000 hours? How many of those hours did I waste? How many hours have I actually been using to make true, positive impact?”


I struggled a lot when I just started my career about two decades ago. I was a good student and enjoyed being in school. After those lovely graduation ceremonies being recognized for the hard work I put into my school career with a few different awards, I felt lost. Where do I belong now? Where should I belong? What is my new routine supposed to be? Where should I put my heart and soul into? Sure, career - but what does career even mean? What am I supposed to achieve? Throughout school career, it was getting good grades. Now what? How is my effort going to be measured?


I didn't get to ponder these questions prior to graduating from my undergraduate program. The only thing I knew for sure was that I studied hard to get good grades to get a good job and make the world a better place. Again, I didn't know what a "good job" means to me and how I was going to make the world a better place.


The search for meaningful career that I find fun and rewarding has been an on-going journey. I'm more clear now compared to 20 years ago but the search definitely continues.


Student interns we hire often ask me a question of “what are some of the advices you’d give to your 20-year old self?”


I have many things I want to tell my younger self. That young woman who struggles so much to understand who she is and what she wants to do with her life. If I have to choose one advice, it is "be patient". I wasn't patient at all. I was so anxious. And I have seen time and time again students and young professionals going through the same struggle. As a mortal being with only a finite amount of time in our lifetime, being impatient is totally understandable. We want to achieve something great and leave a legacy behind, right? At the same time though, being impatient and anxious hinders our ability to be present and enjoy every moment life has to offer. I’m still not patient and patience is a virtue I’m constantly trying to grow more.


One of the chapters in Tim's book, Tools of Titan, is dedicated to his conversation with Seth Godin, one of the most well-known figures in the world of marketing and author of numerous best-selling books. One of the questions Tim asked Seth was what advice he'd give to his younger self. Seth's answer was that he wouldn't give any.


It’s very true that all the decisions I made and everything I did and didn’t do brought me to where I am and shaped who I am now. I am pretty happy with who I am and don’t have huge regrets that cause sleepless nights. I’d still give my young self a few advices though. The fact that she, my younger self, gets some of the advices that I, my older self, can give doesn’t mean that she will make the decisions I would make. She doesn't have experience, maturity, and perspectives that I have. She will make mistakes and goes through the bumps. However, having someone telling her that she is not broken, she will figure out, she will make impact, she will be okay, and in fact, she IS okay will be such an enormous help for reducing the level of anxiety and increasing her capacity for patience.


What is the advice you'd give to your young self?


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