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10,000 Hours of Employment

Each year of 9-5 employment consumes 2,000 hours. Going by the 10,000 hour rule, every 5 years of full-time employment is therefore time that could have otherwise been spent becoming a master of absolutely any skill. Not just pretty decent at something, literally world-class.


Now, the 10,000 hour rule is far from an infallible truth, but I do believe it to be a good rule of thumb. With a clear goal in mind, strategic practice, and no unusual impeding circumstances (such as being unable to afford the resources required for learning), a time investment of 10,000 hours would in most cases be more than enough to reach a "master" level of skill.

There are times when employment and personal skill development can complement each other well. If one's line of work aligns perfectly with their passion (such as an aspiring programmer in a software development role, or an artist in a creative role), then it can be a convenient way to structure that skill development time.

However, in my experience, it's extremely rare for the two to perfectly align. Perhaps at first, before diminishing returns kick in, it can be a fertile environment for learning. But once the point of divergence is reached between the employee's personal skill development, and the skills needed by the employer to reach their own (shareholder-driven) goal, any further personal development would not be of interest to the employer. It's even likely to be actively discouraged (either explicitly or implicitly) and recognised as a distracted employee who isn't fully aligned with the employer's values.

Are the benefits of a successful career enough to justify the sacrifice of enough time to become a true master of 8 different skills?