The secondary effects of your work

We’re all going to be working for a long time in our lives. Like 90,000 hours, or more.

That sounds pretty depressing. So much life wasted! Just trading time for the money we need to stay alive.

But it’s not all bad. I think that if we are strategic, then we can get a lot more out of those hours than a paycheck. You don’t have to just trade time for money. You can trade time for money AND skills that you can use to make a bigger impact later in life.

Think beyond the normal work-for-money transaction. There are lots of ways to make in impact. You could donate your skilled work to a non-profit, through organizations like Doctors without Borders or GiveCamp. You could do research that advances your field to the benefit of society. Or you could use your skills to build something new to the benefit of society.

Now we have new criteria for evaluating careers. Instead of just asking, “what will this career earn me,” we can also ask, “how will this career change me?”

In economics, they call this a positive externality, meaning an economic action that produces a positive side-effect.

In business, they call this the double bottom line, meaning your business gets profits, but you’re also getting something else (like good-will, a healthier planet, or improving the lives of humans). This double bottom line is a big reason why Elon Musk’s companies have so many fans.

Do your working hours create positive externalities in your life? Does it produce a double bottom-line? What are the secondary effects of your work?