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683,000 And Counting

clever sheepThe number in the title of this post is the average amount of hours a person in the US will live for.

It seems like a lot doesn’t it? Especially if you’ve just spent the last half hour on hold trying to report a problem with a household appliance that’s still under warranty.

Unfortunately though, you’re not going to get that long because you have to subtract the hours that you have already been hanging around waiting for something to happen.

In my case that’s about 440,000, which is a huge chunk to give up, but such is life, I didn’t set the rules.

The 243,000 I’m left with is still a big number, but what if I remove all those hours that I’m going to be sleeping moving forward?

Now we’re closer to 160,000 and the clock is still ticking with no regard to me or my life. It simply doesn’t care.

Getting Through The Week

I was talking with a friend recently and when I asked him how he was doing, he replied, “Just trying to get to the end of the week”.

Ten years ago I would have probably nodded my head in agreement and muttered, “Me too”

I was definitely the guy that would say, “Thank Fuck its Friday!” with a fist pump and an excited look on my face. I embraced the POETS day philosophy (Piss Off Early Tomorrow’s Saturday) and thought that Monday to Thursday with the occasional exception were there to be dealt with.

When the weekend did arrive it would often disappear in a blur of partying to be swiftly followed by that Sunday evening feeling of another week to get through. And so the cycle continued for two decades.

One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve got older is that unsurprisingly, Einstein was right. Time is indeed relative and it does speed up as you age.

As a child the summers seemed to last forever because when you’re a kid, 6 weeks is a really long time in relation to the life you have lived.

Now they seem to be gone in a heart beat and I’m often left wondering what happened to the year never mind just the summer.

Where Does Your Time Go?

On average we spend about half our waking life at work and almost 60% of our time is NOT spent on the three days that may, at a push (because I’m including Friday), be considered the weekend.

Doesn’t it seem a crushing waste to you, that so many people are wishing their life away like I was? Maybe you are even one of these people?

I’m lucky because I fell into Life Coaching almost by mistake and I’m now doing something I love to do after 20 years of merely for the most part, getting through the work day.

Now I don’t really care what day of the week it is because, with the occasional exception, I enjoy them all.

In fact I’m often busiest on weekends especially recently because I have been running the Coach The Life Coach courses and I love it. It certainly doesn’t feel like work or an obligation.

But I’m in the minority.

A Gallup study from 2011 discovered that 71% of Americans are not engaged at work and recent data seems to suggest that number is rising.

Disengagement is at best disinterest, and at worst dislike.

Not to labor the point, but that means over 7 in 10 people don’t care for the one thing that probably takes up half their waking life.

Seeing as I have already used the ‘F’ bomb I may as well go for it again. How fucked up is that?

That so many people do jobs that make them miserable just to make enough money to do things that they think will help them deal with their misery?

Something is broken.

We’re Living In Amazing Times

The technological revolution we are currently in the middle of, is nothing short of stunning. It’s easy to become blase about it because to us it’s just part of everyday life.

Make no mistake though, it will be talked about in the future the same way as the Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions are in terms of changing the world, only this is bigger, much bigger.

The map is changing rapidly beneath our feet and there’s nothing anybody can do about it.

I posted to Twitter a few months ago, “Can people please stop inventing stuff for two years so I can catch up?”

It would be nice if that could happen, but the only real likelihood is that the pace will keep accelerating and we either hop on the technological bandwagon and enjoy the ride or get left behind avoiding and fearing change.

There are downsides to this acceleration of technology that concern me, such as the explosion in ADD, the growth in relationships without any depth or real meaning and the decline in peoples ability to realize there is a human being behind every computer and not just a target to aim for.

But it doesn’t matter if those things concern me, because the people coming up with new ideas care less about what I think than ‘time’ does.

However, there is one aspect that excites the hell out of me.

As little as a decade ago many people still thought they had jobs for life and that a ‘good’ job with a large Blue Chip organization meant security and stability for them and their family.

Then all of a sudden it didn’t, and the world was tipped upside down with the collapse of businesses that were seen by many as untouchable.

The Illusion of Security

A lot of people finally got the message that security in the work place is an illusion.

And if it’s an illusion, why on earth continue to do something that gives them no meaning, no satisfaction and no sense of purpose if the one thing they thought they were getting isn’t guaranteed?

Many, many, times I have been told my clients that they fear starting their own business because of the lack of security.

They fear leaving a ‘good’ job even if they don’t like it because of the uncertainty of doing something else.

As a Life Coach it would be disingenuous and flat out wrong from a coaching perspective  for me to tell any client it will be easy, that he will be more secure and that the work he will do will be fulfilling and life enhancing, because I have no way of knowing any of that.

But here’s the deal when you work for yourself.

You determine what you do and whether it feels meaningful and worthwhile to you.

You decide what hours you work and who you work with.

You get to align your work with your core values.

And most importantly, you set your level of security by being excellent at whatever it is you do.

You cannot have your pay frozen and over time banned as senior executives take nice bonuses.

You cannot be asked to adsorb another role (without extra recompense of course) because they let somebody else go to cut costs.

You cannot be told that you will only get one weeks vacation, that you have to work on weekends or that you need to be grateful for what you have because there’s always somebody waiting to take your place.

In short, you can’t be abused working for yourself (unless you happen to pick a bad customer who you can then fire), you cannot be demeaned, you cannot be held hostage and you cannot be fired at 24 hours notice even though you were doing great work.

Self employment is not for everybody. We need nurses, teachers, the military, factory workers and a whole host of other people who cannot be freelancing.

Not only that, but some people enjoy working for others. If 71% are disengaged that means 29% are engaged and that’s a good thing.

However, if you hate your job and feel like it gives you no sense of satisfaction or purpose, then there has never been a better time to do something about it.

The boundaries are coming down, the access to many markets melting away and the ability to make a difference and dictate your own life is out there just waiting for you to grab it.

The clock is ticking.

 

8 comments to 683,000 And Counting

  • Hi Tim,

    Great post and it certainly puts things in perspective. We only get one shot at this and it is frightening how little regard we have for the passing of time. And yes, it is fear that stops us, despite as you pointed out that job security is no longer guaranteed (if it ever was).So many of us scared to live and scared to die. Seems a bit pointless really. Great reminder of appreciating and utilizing every moment. A quote from Fight Club springs to mind – “This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time”

  • This is a really incredible article. You have a serious way with words my friend. “Time is indeed relative and it does speed up as you age.” How many times did we hear that as kids and think “but time goes by so sloooooow, a month is like a year, like, you know??” Not anymore. I don’t know how many hours I have left but I know I have enough behind me to understand the wisdom you have shared here. Thanks so much for a great post! Sharing with all of my old grumpy friends!

  • Well, this scared the shit out of me.

    • Well as long as it scared this shit out of you in terms of action, rather than curling up into a ball and refusing to leave your room, then that’s a good thing ;-)

  • 9 months ago I ‘gave up’ a high earning job as a Sales Executive for a conglomerate IT company in South Africa.

    I did this to become a Life Coach to do what I’ve – actually – always wanted to do.

    So, I was part of the 70% (statistics are all relevant) of people that had an unfulfilling but ‘secure’ job.

    I therefore get the post and totally agree with the message.

    The clock is ticking and the older I get the louder it gets and the faster it seems to go. So it’s important not to waste our time by being in jobs we hate, relationships that don’t serve us or friendships that make us feel bad about ourselves.

    However, sometimes it is nice to just waste time.

    John Lennon (apparently) said: “Time enjoyed wasting is not wasted time…”

    (No one knows these days whether someone actually said a quote or not but it doesn’t matter.)

    To me it was comforting to know that if I sometimes ‘waste’ time – by sleeping/doing nothing/watching TV or whatever it is that is not productive. It’s ok.

    Because as long as I enjoyed ‘wasting’ the time I’m ok with it….. :-)

    • Good point Rensche and this is what I say to clients on that.

      “It’s ok to waste time, it’s ok to dick about on Facebook or watch trashy TV as long as you know that’s what you’re doing and it’s a conscious decision because you want to rather than something that just happens as a default”

      I think the motive is important.

      Lennon did say it, just about 50 years after it first appeared in a book I believe (and yeh I could be wrong for sure). Although I get 100% what you’re saying, there are so many fake quotes out there and sometimes it’s better just to take the message.

      My Meditation teacher Bodhipaksa has even devoted a website to fake Buddha quotes. It seems a lot of the more famous ones are fake, and I was mortified that a poster on my wall saying “there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way” with The Buddha written under it, is fake :-(

      Having said ALL that, I hate it when people take quotes, shuffle a word or two around, attach their name to it and then slap it up on Pinterest without any reference to the original source.

      Good job tolerance is one of my top values! ;-)