Musings: The Four Hour Barnes and Noble Trip

For the past 6 months of so, I’ve been rather preoccupied. Well, that may not be the whole truth…for the past 23.985 years I’ve been preoccupied; however, for the past 6 months I’ve been caught up on the issue of what I should do with my life.

After graduating from UMD last year, I had a several month grace period, during which I was happy to have a job. For a few months after that, I was content having a job that I pretty much liked. From then on, I’ve been completely snagged on the fact that while my job, and the academic science industry as a whole, are perfectly fine for now, I definitely want to move on from them.

This is one of those realizations that most people seem to have at some point in their life and it sucks. For me, I just feel that the stop sign came a few intersections earlier than it does for most people.

What's red and has the outline of a hand? The side of my face after these constant slaps of reality.

Ever since I came upon this realization, I rarely go 15 minutes without trying to figure out what I want to be doing with my life. But, I’m feeling a bit more optimistic, and this is why.

While lounging with no intention of buying anything in Barnes and Noble (see, at least the one I go to is still in business), as my generation often does, I decided to pick up some business books instead of my usual video game magazines. While sifting through endless stacks of dreadfully boring books, trying to find some that sounded even remotely helpful, I came across “The 4-Hour Workweek”.

I must admit, that I had no interest in the book whatsoever. I don’t pay much mind to “get rich quick” schemes or to the suggestion that I can make millions from working at home. I’m sure people have gotten rich quickly and all, but that only worsens my chances.

Despite my reservations, I decided to give it a quick skim. Suddenly, a quick skim turned into a few chapters. Then a few chapters turned into Jenny telling me we had to leave. I still don’t buy the suggestion that you can make too much money by doing very little work; however, the book is pretty great for two reason.

First, the author and I have strangely similar writing styles/senses of humor. This makes the book a legitimately enjoyable read, as opposed to the autobiographies of stodgy old billionaires that only stand to enrage me.


Second, the book is written in a way that directly speaks to my career discontent. Sure, he discusses lawyers who work 60 hour weeks and want to kill themselves, but he also speaks to those of us who are worried about trapping ourselves in comfortable lives. As he writes:

Most who avoid quitting their jobs entertain the thought that their course will improve with time or increases in income. This seems valid and is a tempting hallucination when a job is boring or uninspiring instead of pure hell. Pure hell forces action, but anything less can be endured with enough clever rationalization.

Well, damn. I guess he’s right. At this point in the read at least, he hasn’t miraculously told me how to make it and what I should be doing. What he has done, however, is given me some more constructive ways to think about what to do, with plenty of inspiring words and tales to keep me from sitting on my haunches and hiding behind my comfort. I suggest that you do the same!

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