If you assume we have 40 primetime working years, ages 25-65, then the math tells me that Providence issues each of us 80,000 primetime working hours.* We each have 80,000 hours to make a contribution through our work. We have an impressive stockpile of time in which to execute our vision, create, cultivate, and make ourselves useful to others.
The number I’m really interested in, however, is the percentage a single workday contributes to my entire working career. Here’s what I came up with:
8 hours per day ÷ 80,000 hours per lifetime = .0001 x 100 = .01%
.01% is how much a single day’s worth of work contributes to your overall working career.
When I discovered how infinitesimal this number was, I asked myself the question: Why do I demand so much when so little is required?
I know. I cringed too. Every time I go back and reread that sentence some part of me on the inside recoils. It sounds like I’m making an argument for shirking on the job. But no one reading this post is interested in avoiding work. In fact, it’s the opposite.
If you’re reading this you’re, in all likelihood, a lot like me. You’re driven to create something, build something that lasts. Yet you probably tend to lean toward overwork (like me). Anxiety is a recurring companion. You push yourself too much and you know it. Your drive, if ungoverned, can degenerate into overdrive.
This is why that itty bitty number had such a massive effect on me.
Many days, I wake up and assume I need to make a big impact. Today, I need to do something big, no… herculean. Something that will accelerate the timeline or get me to the finish line faster.
I now see, this is completely unnecessary. I can get to where I want to go without the superhero bit. A small win every workday amounts to a job well done and it’s enough.
Don’t sweat your big dreams. Just be consistently winning bite-sized victories. Those who can knock out something small every day will ultimately achieve something big one day.
*In a given year, we work approximately 250 days. If you multiply those 250 days by 8 hours you get 2,000 hours.