The end:

A cheery final note – imagining your deathbed

We’re about to summarise the whole guide in one minute. But before that, imagine a cheery thought: you’re at the end of your 80,000 hour career.

You’re on your deathbed looking back.

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What are some things you might regret?

Perhaps you drifted into whatever seemed like the easiest option, or did what your parents did.

Maybe you even made a lot of money doing something you were interested in, and had a nice house and car. But you still wonder: what was it all for?

Now imagine instead that you worked really hard throughout your life, and ended up saving the lives of a hundred children. Can you really imagine regretting that?

To have a truly fulfilling life, we need to turn outwards rather than inwards. Rather than asking, “what’s my passion?”, ask “how can I best contribute to the world?”.

As we’ve seen, by using our fortunate positions and acting strategically, there’s a huge amount we can all do to help others. And we can do this at little cost to ourselves, and most likely while having a more successful and satisfying career too.

The entire guide, in one minute

To have a good career, do what contributes. Rather than expect to discover your passion in a flash of insight, your fulfillment will grow over time as you learn more about what fits, master valuable skills, and use them to help others. (Part 1.)

To do what contributes, here’s where to focus over time. Each step can allow you to have a much greater impact.

  1. Explore to find the best options, rather than “going with your gut” or narrowing down too early. Make this your key focus until you become more confident about the best options. (Part 8.)
  2. Invest in your career capital to become as great as you can be. Especially look for career capital that’s flexible when you’re uncertain. Do this until you’ve taken the best opportunities to invest in yourself. (Part 7 and part 9.) Then, use your career capital to:
  3. Effectively help others. Do this by focusing on the most urgent social problems rather than those you stumble into – those that are big in scale, neglected and solvable. To make the largest contribution to those problems, think broadly: consider earning to give, research and advocacy, as well as direct work. Although many efforts to help others fail, the best can be enormously effective, so be ambitious. (Part 2part 4part 5 and part 6.) But don’t forget you can have a big impact in any job (part 3).
  4. Keep adapting your plan to find the best personal fit. Think like a scientist testing a hypothesis: make careful decisions, adapt your plan as you learn more, and find a better and better career over time. (Part 8 and part 10.)
  5. And work with a community to be more successful. (Part 11 and part 12.)

By working together, in our lifetimes, we can end extreme global poverty and factory farming, we can prevent dangerous climate change and safeguard the future, and we can do this while having interesting, fulfilling lives too. So let’s do it.

You have 80,000 hours in your career.

Don’t waste them.

"The End: A Cheery Final Note - Imagining Your Deathbed." 80,000 Hours, 80000hours.org/career-guide/end/.