Never Normal Newsletter

Exploring the “Pathless Path”, Time Millionaires, and Antiwork

Last week I wrote about how to solve shortages, sell $3B in a few hours, and have your most productive day ever.

This week I’m excited to share a new episode of my Never Normal podcast with Paul Millerd.

In 2017, Paul decided to leave his successful, predictable corporate consulting career (working for the likes of BCG and McKinsey) behind to embark on what he calls “The Pathless Path.”

That’s also the title of Paul’s forthcoming book and the subject of our conversation. In this episode, we discuss:

  • What is the Pathless Path?
  • Why Paul left his dream job and the letter he wrote to himself
  • How do you get started on the Pathless Path?
  • What quitting your job teaches you about yourself
  • Dealing with uncertainty along the way
  • How do you know if you’re making the right decisions?
  • What’s next for Paul and much more…

I’d wanted to interview Paul for ages, but waiting until now turned out to be (unintentionally) perfect timing. Paul is about to release his book, but that’s not the only reason…

YOLO and the Rise of Antiwork

As society starts to see past the pandemic, there’s plenty of talk in the media about people reevaluating their priorities and, especially, their relationship with work and role that it plays in their lives.

In October, the Guardian published an article about Time Millionaires:

Time millionaires measure their worth not in terms of financial capital, but according to the seconds, minutes and hours they claw back from employment for leisure and recreation.

“Wealth can bring comfort and security in its wake,” says Roy. “But I wish we were taught to place as high a value on our time as we do on our bank accounts – because how you spend your hours and your days is how you spend your life.”

New York Times technology columnist Kevin Roose wrote about what he calls the “YOLO Economy“:

Something strange is happening to the exhausted, type-A millennial workers of America. After a year spent hunched over their MacBooks, enduring back-to-back Zooms in between sourdough loaves and Peloton rides, they are flipping the carefully arranged chessboards of their lives and deciding to risk it all….

Their bank accounts, fattened by a year of stay-at-home savings and soaring asset prices, have increased their risk appetites. And while some of them are just changing jobs, others are stepping off the career treadmill altogether.

Sound familiar?

And last week, the Guardian covered the rapid rise of the r/Antiwork subreddit — an online community whose most popular posts are screenshots of messages that members send to their bosses to say, “I QUIT!”

Unlike the former office workers described in the YOLO economy article, the people posting on Antiwork are typically quitting retail, restaurant, and other poorly paid, physically demanding jobs.

Source: tylerro2 on reddit

It’s hard to know which posts are real (I’m skeptical) or how many people are actually planning to quit their jobs, but it is clear that Antiwork has struck a chord.

With close to one million members and over 1,000 new posts per day, Antiwork is the fastest growing community on reddit right now (based on number of new subscribers over the past month, according to subreddit stats). Membership has doubled in just the past month.

I’m sure that sending an “F*** YOU” email to a bad boss is very satisfying and even viscerally thrilling, but then what…

Unless you made five billion dollars betting on a dog-themed cryptocurrency, or you have some other source F*** You Money, then you’re still going to need to work.

Ideally, as Paul and I discuss in the episode, you can find a way to earn a living that brings you joy (or at least doesn’t crush you).

Nat Eliason nailed it in his recent piece on Reclaiming the Joy of Work:

Unfortunately the whole school system, and parental obsession with it, often conditions people with an unhealthy gold-star-chasing attitude towards work. Where it’s good if you are slaving away at a job or class you hate, because one day it will qualify you to take on a new job or class you hate (but with higher pay and accolades!)But thinking of hard work as always driven by some unhealthy obsession with gold-star-chasing misses the beautiful side of work.

We’re all fortunate to live in a time where almost any passion can fund your lifestyle. And when we see someone obsessed with the infinite game they’ve managed to find themselves in, to the point where it’s all they want to do in their free time, we shouldn’t admonish them for being too “work-obsessed.” We should be jealous of them. We should want to find that for ourselves. Because what more could we want out of life than to wake up every day excited to throw ourselves at the problems in front of us?

If your work isn’t providing progress towards some meaningful goal, then by all means, half-ass it with everything you’ve got. Don’t get trapped chasing the next rung in a ladder to nowhere. Don’t let your work define you.

But if you can find that incredibly meaningful work, the infinite game you can’t stop playing, don’t feel bad for playing it

If you’re thinking of quitting your job, making a big change, or just feeling a little lost, I’d love to talk to you.

That’s all for this week. More soon!

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I write occasional emails to share what I’m thinking, learning, and doing. It’s all related to the idea of breaking free from the “default plan” in life.

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