Imagine a job where you’re being paid a sum that’s adequate to the standard cost of living wherever you are. Let’s say it’s $2,000. There is only one rule for the job:
You cannot do anything.
All you get to choose is whether you sit or stand and you can transition between those two modes as you please.
- You can’t call friends.
- You can’t browse Facebook.
- You can’t write or read.
…and so on. But doing nothing is hard, so obviously, this is a full-time job. 40 hours per week.
Would you take that job?
There are a lot of jobs very similar to the one I described. In general, all jobs where you have to “watch” something, whether that’s a screen, a pool, a museum or a shopping mall are close to it.
Most desk jobs in the public sector are too. My roommate worked for the school here. On a bad day, she’d have to answer 50 emails over 8 hours.
When I lived in Mannheim, I’d sometimes accompany my roommate when he had to return a book to the library. We used to joke that the girl behind the counter had the best job in the world, because there was nothing to do.
But the truth is, she always looked like this:
Unless you want to do something else in that time, an easy job won’t do you any good. It’ll just make you miserable.
Boring jobs are for boring people. But if you’re not boring, you’ll be bored at such a job. Limited jobs are only limiting when you fail to see what they enable you to do.
Why do nothing to earn, when you can get paid to learn?
Pick a passion project, something that might lead somewhere, and then make the strategic decision to pick a job that enables you to spend the maximum time towards that.
- Sometimes, that’s a very rough, entry-level job sweeping floors.
- Sometimes, that’s a prestigious internship with a great mentor.
- And sometimes, that’s a boring job during which you can study, read, write, learn, code, connect and build something.
But it’s never doing nothing. Everything has a price. In the case of doing nothing, even while earning some money, it costs you the only chance you have of living a fulfilled life.