Author Topic: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'  (Read 2490 times)

epower

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Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« on: August 27, 2017, 03:40:34 PM »
Several people I've talked to have said if they reach FIRE/win lottery, they will then go and do work they enjoy which makes a difference to people's lives.

If on decides to work or not if they don't financially need to can it not just be for selfish reasons such as social connections, sense of identity, spending money, etc?

Obviously we are adults and can do what ever we want but interested to hear others thoughts.
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Schaefer Light

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2017, 06:57:34 AM »
I think work would be much more enjoyable if I felt like it was making a difference.  I'm in middle management, and frankly feel like my job should not exist.  I do think the other factors you mentioned (social connections, sense of identity, and money) can make a job tolerable, but if you're like me then at some point you're going to ask yourself why your job matters.  That's when you get depressed ;).

JoseS

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2017, 09:27:14 AM »
All jobs make a difference. You don't have to be a doctor or a social worker to impact somebody's life. If you are a cable guy that keeps his appointments and fixes problems quickly, you are making the person receiving that service very happy. You can say the same for any job that we think menial or unremarkable. Just providing for yourself and your family have an important impact on yourself and society because others don't have to take care of you. You pay taxes which are used to pay for benefits for the elderly, the disable or provide services for all in your community.

But in the case of somebody that is FI and doesn't need to work, the drive to make an impact is still there. I think that just part of being human. Because they have choices, they can do something that they feel is more important and avoid some of the pitfalls of having a particular job.

birdiegirl

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2017, 09:34:53 AM »
I think some of this can be driven by your age or stage of life.  Those "selfish" reasons (money, titles, status, etc. ) were enough for me when I was younger.  Now I'm in agreement with Schaefer Light, as I find myself in another middle management job that is really just paper pushing & delegating that doesn't add any real value to the world. 

Although the money is still important to a certain extent (not yet FI), I no longer care about status nor get a sense of identity from my job.  I'd definitely find greater motivation for work if I felt it could have a positive impact on others.

   

ketchup

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2017, 09:43:07 AM »
I work in IT so I don't so much "make a difference myself" as keep the trains running on time so the rest of the company can get their shit done.  That's enough for me.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2017, 12:52:32 AM »
My work has to pay me, nothing more.

TartanTallulah

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2017, 03:32:32 AM »
My work doesn't have to "make a difference" by objective, measurable standards (imposed and intrinsically useless metrics are the bane of my working life) but I have to feel that it has value. More importantly, though, my work has to be a good fit for my own skills and personality.



2Cent

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2017, 05:25:41 AM »
My work has to pay me, nothing more.
Doing something you can be proud of is a great motivator. I think that's what people really want. For instance people who's job it is to sell crappy products they know are a ripoff might make a lot of money, but inside they feel ashamed.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2017, 05:40:15 AM »
My work has to pay me, nothing more.
Doing something you can be proud of is a great motivator. I think that's what people really want. For instance people who's job it is to sell crappy products they know are a ripoff might make a lot of money, but inside they feel ashamed.

I'm sure it's what some people want. Not me.

happy

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2017, 05:56:31 AM »
I learnt long ago that I find it hard to  tolerate  work that I feel is meaningless. I can do  work that doesn't really suit my personality i.e. detailed, repetitive work, as long as I can find some personal meaning in completing it. But if I feel that what I'm being asked to do is pointless, I get very antsy and have a hard time engaging.
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Schaefer Light

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2017, 06:12:21 AM »
But if I feel that what I'm being asked to do is pointless, I get very antsy and have a hard time engaging.

Same here.  And in middle management, there's a lot of pointless BS that I'm asked to do.  The hardest part is convincing the people who report to me to do something that I myself feel is pointless.

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2017, 06:16:37 AM »
I chose an occupation that "makes a difference", but unfortunately it's the kind of job that also doesn't lead to a lot of respect and the pay is middling. When I FIRE, I'm going to separate my income from my altruism and do free charity work on the side. I think that would help me feel a lot better.

happy

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2017, 06:17:40 AM »
But if I feel that what I'm being asked to do is pointless, I get very antsy and have a hard time engaging.

Same here.  And in middle management, there's a lot of pointless BS that I'm asked to do.  The hardest part is convincing the people who report to me to do something that I myself feel is pointless.

Truly impossible!
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tomatops

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2017, 07:26:37 AM »
I'll admit, when I got out of school I was all about trying to make a difference, but frankly, those industries didn't offer a whole lot to live on.

So I sold out a little bit and went to a higher paying field. I don't hate it. I'm not sure how big a difference it makes. But it allows me to use the skills I enjoy using, which is better than most.

Lazy_Spartan

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2017, 10:36:38 AM »
I chose careers that I think made at difference (Coast Guard and afterward that environmental law enforcement). Both where physically taxing and dangerous jobs that were fairly low paying but had great benefits. It would be the career path I would choose again even if I could earn more doing something else that was less fulfilling to me. I also really really enjoyed the unique opportunities to do cool stuff at work that was not your typical 9 to 5 office job ...which may have been the death of me no matter how much it paid unless I could save enough to retire very early and do volunteer work in areas I'm more passionate about. 

So no I don't think you have to have a job that makes a difference but I think it helps you in ways (emotional? spiritual?) that may be of greater benefit to you than doing something you feel meh about for the same amount of time. I also don't think any post FIRE work or volunteer activity has to make a difference. You can do them solely for social or other purely enjoyable reasons and that's OK.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2017, 10:45:25 AM by spartana »
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pachnik

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2017, 10:58:23 AM »
My job doesn't have to 'make a difference'.  I work as a legal assistant in a small law firm.  I enjoy the work and 'running' the office.   But in a very humble way, perhaps I do make a difference.  I do my best to treat everyone well including co-workers and clients.     

I am earning my own living, saving for my retirement and not expecting the state to take care of me when I am old.  This is the plan anyway.  We'll see what happens. :)


katscratch

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2017, 07:38:58 PM »
I am someone who needs my work to align with my values. That encompasses jobs I've had even in the customer service sector when I was younger. And also led me to leave a well-paying job that I felt was going in a direction away from my personal values. So in that sense, yes.

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2017, 04:35:04 AM »
No, not for me...my values don't really align to work, but I've never tried to force them to.

But overall I feel we all make a difference and are valued members of society by contributing and paying taxes.

undercover

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2017, 08:18:16 AM »
Define "make a difference".

On the one hand, you make a difference everyday. Your mere existence affects everything on a micro-level. In the rare exception, maybe on a larger scale.

On the other, the world doesn't need anyone in particular. It would happily trudge along without you.

Lastly, there are no "good" or "bad" differences. No one needs, deserves, or should expect anything. Life just "is".

So I say - focus on what it is you want to do, and be happy with what it is you're doing. You can't plan to make any significant difference, whether or not that significant difference is even worth making or not.
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Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2017, 10:42:15 AM »
Many people are wired such that they have a strong desire to be doing things that benefit the future, benefit people directly, and so on.  Some of us NEED work that does that.

With that said, I believe all humans are wired in ways that makes a life lived in service of others more fulfilling.  So it's possible to find more fulfillment if you find ways to serve others with your time.  (And that may look *wildly* different to different people: anything from designing things that people use to working with people directly to helping solve global finance problems because it helps people.) 

You can enjoy sitting on a sofa or a beach or whatever, and I intend to do a lot of that someday too, but in my experience virtually everyone *can* find more fulfillment in a life devoted to serving others in a way that he/she uniquely enjoys. 

westtoeast

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2017, 12:06:18 PM »
Mustachian habits have allowed me to keep doing my "purposeful" job (teaching) while still saving and meeting my other lifestyle goals. And because I feel like my work really matters I enjoy it more... which means I'm OK with a bit of a later FIRE date. But I do think there is something to be said for spending ten years earning and saving in a high paying position and then transitioning to "purposeful" work that may pay much less.

trashmanz

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2017, 12:15:48 PM »
All jobs make a difference. You don't have to be a doctor or a social worker to impact somebody's life. If you are a cable guy that keeps his appointments and fixes problems quickly, you are making the person receiving that service very happy. You can say the same for any job that we think menial or unremarkable. Just providing for yourself and your family have an important impact on yourself and society because others don't have to take care of you. You pay taxes which are used to pay for benefits for the elderly, the disable or provide services for all in your community.

But in the case of somebody that is FI and doesn't need to work, the drive to make an impact is still there. I think that just part of being human. Because they have choices, they can do something that they feel is more important and avoid some of the pitfalls of having a particular job.

That seem naive to me.  I've had my fair share of jobs where all I did was move some digital bytes around from one place to the other in software that never saw the light of day, and I know many more like that as well.  If anything we have been a net drain on society using food and energy and resources with no tangible output.  Then there are the countless jobs that are heavily destructive to society and the environment, where it would be a net gain for all of society if the person never showed up to work. 

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #22 on: September 02, 2017, 01:31:12 PM »
I do meaningful work that is well paid in a public service profession.  Phenomenal work-life balance also, but I'm not interested in continuing to do this forever.

I look forward to being FI and doing busy work just for myself.  I think I'll just make dinky little automation projects, robots; perhaps I'll turn my kitchen into an automated factory process for sorting, cleaning and storing dishes or some such nonesense that would be worth nothing to anyone other than myself.

Lski'stash

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2017, 02:52:22 PM »
Mine does. It's why I went into teaching.

I could have easily gone into engineering or some other area that paid a lot more right out of the gate, but I knew that I wasn't going to be happy with myself if I wasn't making the world a better place somehow.

Looking back now, I see that there are lots of types of jobs that do that (and quite a few in the engineering world), but I am still happy with the decision I made.

esq

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #24 on: September 03, 2017, 08:31:11 PM »
Another teacher chiming in. (Special ed, inner city charter school.) My dept director and I went in on a couple of lottery tickets for the hell of it for the half a billion dollar powerball a couple of weeks ago. We were talking about what we'd do if....blah blah blah.

She said she'd be gone in a heartbeat, to travel, to take care of her family, etc. I thought about it, and said, "I could never leave you people, and what about my kids?" No, if I won the lottery, I'd still come back to my school to volunteer. It's that meaningful to me, and I could never do anything else. (Now, would you see my happy ass there at 6:45 a.m. anymore? I think not, but that's besides the point.)

Come to think of it, the more meaningful any work I've done in my life, the more I've enjoyed it. Correlation of +1.
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Hargrove

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #25 on: September 03, 2017, 09:53:04 PM »
I once told someone he had to figure out if his work had to make a difference, or if he only needed his work to pay for the difference he would make.

You can get a job and be satisfied with it being meaningful...
You can get a job and get enough money to take care of your family or pursue your mime training...

Unfortunately, many get high-paying jobs and frantically try to buy meaning, or get low-paying jobs that don't offer satisfaction. There are plenty of those available.

I would vastly prefer that my work make a difference, but I can't accept work that makes a difference which wouldn't allow me to take care of my family. So I'm aiming to FI quickly so I can do more meaningful work.

Moonwaves

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #26 on: September 05, 2017, 09:22:57 AM »
Almost two years ago I left my relatively well-paid job as a secretary in a large accounting firm and about a year and a half ago I started in a similar role at a university. My new job pays about 65% of what the old one did. For the first 10 months I only had a 20 hrs/wk position though, so it was more like about 40% of my old salary. But feeling like I'm supporting something important, that really could make a difference in the world (education) has made a huge difference to me. I'll probably never FIRE, although now I know that it is possible to live on very little so going back to part-time at some stage is entirely possible and I don't feel hopeless or like I'll never be able to retire. But that thought is not entirely unbearable anymore. Bad days are now just random bad days. Before, bad days felt soul-crushing. I'm currently going through a period of mild depression and even so, bad days don't feel the way they used to.

To make up for some of my lost income, I also now translate as a side-gig. I was lucky enough to be approached last year by an institute that is involved in peace research and now sometimes do work for them. Working all weekend is still strenuous, but during the last few very busy weeks, for example, I found myself able to keep going and be enjoying it even when I was exhausted. I'm not necessarily making a difference to the world but I certainly find it easier to put in lots of hours translating documents on potential solutions to situations in war-torn countries than translating, say, a legal opinion on how some giant corporation can get around paying tax.

What "makes a difference" means can, of course, be different for everybody. And some people may be genuinely unaffected by or uninterested in thoughts of whether or not their job makes whatever they consider to be a difference. But for some people, like me, it's really important.

Yet having said all of that, if I were to win the lottery (not very likely, since I rarely play)/achieve FI, I probably would leave my job. If I have to work (for financial reasons) then I need it to be something that makes a difference. If I don't actually have to work, then I have a huge list of things I would like to do that would make my life meaningful in other ways.

JayKay

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #27 on: September 05, 2017, 03:12:06 PM »
For me personally, work that makes a difference is a small "nice-to-have".  If it happens, good for me, but I certainly won't devote any effort to making it happen.

Raskolnikov

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #28 on: September 07, 2017, 07:32:08 PM »
It doesn't have to, but real satisfaction comes when it does.

Whatever you do, do it intentionally. Meaning that if you choose to commute to an uninspiring job that enriches your bank account only, then do it because you are saving 50% of your income to quit that same job within 5 years to do work that you truly love.

Just don't fall into the trap of thinking that spending your high income on consumer goods will make up for that lack of job satisfaction.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #29 on: September 07, 2017, 11:40:59 PM »
It doesn't have to, but real satisfaction comes when it does.

Whatever you do, do it intentionally. Meaning that if you choose to commute to an uninspiring job that enriches your bank account only, then do it because you are saving 50% of your income to quit that same job within 5 years to do work that you truly love.

Just don't fall into the trap of thinking that spending your high income on consumer goods will make up for that lack of job satisfaction.

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BlueMR2

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #30 on: September 10, 2017, 12:31:09 PM »
It sure helps.  There's things I volunteer to do now just because it makes a difference.  What I do at work is not completely without impact, but it's in an area/industry that really isn't part of furthering anything important for our species.  There's several things that I think are super important for us, but none of those seem to have paying jobs available...

CindyBS

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #31 on: September 10, 2017, 01:47:41 PM »
My current work is keeping a critically ill child alive and somewhat thriving, so yea, I think I "make a difference".  Pay stinks, though  ($0)   

It is DH's well paying job that does nothing but increase value for shareholders that keeps our ship afloat though.  He often says he would switch with me in a heartbeat.

pdxvandal

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #32 on: September 10, 2017, 04:56:51 PM »
I think it helps to work in a career that "makes a difference." I was in a career that didn't (sports entertainment), but since I've worked in renewable energy, blood banking and public transit. Not lucrative careers, per se, but it makes it easier to go to work and sleep at night.

MrsPete

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #33 on: September 11, 2017, 06:38:56 PM »
Your life should make a difference to the world, but that difference doesn't necessarily have to spring from the hours in which you're at your paid job.

NeonPegasus

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #34 on: September 11, 2017, 07:28:21 PM »
I can't say I've had any job that "makes a difference" in the typical sense of the phrase. I've had a lot of mundane jobs and none pushed my intellectual boundaries. I had to chose to find meaning in them to not go crazy. So I learned what I could. In the end, I learned about HR, Marketing and AR. All of that knowledge was instrumental when I finally quit the bullshit jobs to work with DH in our own business.

Does running a metal fab business make a difference? Not in a meta sense but we (a) support our family, (b) support an employee and offer good pay, great vacation and retirement benefits, (c) build things that people use and admire every day and (d) (mainly in my case) strive to help people no matter what, even if I can't actually do a job for them. I've spent countless hours giving advice to people outside of our service area, helping them locate someone who can help in their area, giving advice, etc. I even refer people to our competitors when they have a tight deadline that we can't accommodate. So in a small way, maybe that makes a difference.

For DH, the work is the means and end. He doesn't envision retiring because he loves the work so much. I've suggested that maybe he could transition to building small railings for elderly people who can't afford them but need them - something that will use his skills but give us freedom to travel when we want.

wordnerd

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #35 on: September 11, 2017, 07:37:09 PM »
Reflexively, I say yes. I work in a public service field. I'm a bit of do-gooder. But, I'm also a skeptic and often wonder if my public service job actually changes anything. I'm somewhat convinced it doesn't, but I don't know if that's true or a product of my pessimism.

When I FIRE, I hope to do things that "make a difference" in ways that I feel more personally connected to. That may be selfish, if I'm actually making a smaller difference, but feeling better about it. But, I think it's what I need to be motivated and happy.
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frugaldrummer

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #36 on: September 13, 2017, 08:26:19 AM »
I make a reasonably good income in a helping profession. I like what I do and feel I am doing good in the world.
But that comes with a lot of responsibility. Sometimes I think working as a Walmart greeter in retirement would be grand!

Ramblin' Ma'am

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #37 on: September 13, 2017, 02:35:05 PM »
My job doesn't "make a difference" in the way that, say, my social worker sister-in-law's job does. I work in an industry I believe in, even if my personal day-to-day is all computers and spreadsheets. I'm trying to slowly increase what I give to charity. Right now it's about 2% of my net income, but I want to increase that year by year. So even if my job isn't saving lives, the money I earn from my job can help to save lives.

Joe444

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Re: Does your work have to 'make a difference?'
« Reply #38 on: September 15, 2017, 06:21:10 AM »
Several people I've talked to have said if they reach FIRE/win lottery, they will then go and do work they enjoy which makes a difference to people's lives.

If on decides to work or not if they don't financially need to can it not just be for selfish reasons such as social connections, sense of identity, spending money, etc?

Obviously we are adults and can do what ever we want but interested to hear others thoughts.
I haven't won lottery yet, but recently I've decided to change my occupation as I didn't like my previous job. I used to work as a manager at a logistics company, but I wanted to have a job that would allow me to be in charge of my time and to earn enough money. Now I work at home building websites by means of different construction group wordpress themes. So, I want to say, if you want to change something in your life, just do it. You never know whether you win lottery or not, and time is passing.