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How long did it take to write this article?


Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

How long did it take to write this article? The short and technically true answer is 44 minutes. I actually measured the time.

There is a longer answer, that I will elaborate on in this article.

Often I find myself comparing where I am in my life to my peers, or public figures in different domains. Entrepreneurship is one such domain. Many people in my circle are entrepreneurs, some of them even serial entrepreneurs. I know people who funded their own company as teenagers.

I am 28 years old and haven’t funded my own startup yet. This comparison can be somewhat intimidating and frustrating, to be honest.

While I have my fair share of experience in various projects and startups, it was never my own vision that I was working on. Sure, I was able to develop and follow my own visions within these projects to some extent. But ultimatively, my work was always embedded within the overall vision of someone else.

Reading things like

Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire when he was 23 years old, 3 years into working on Facebook.

plays even more into that mindset of comparing myself to others and feeling like a failure. My line of thinking goes something like this: I am 28 now. I’m not a billionaire (yet). Zuckerberg managed to become a billionaire within 3 years! I’m a failure.

Recently, I gained a small insight, a new perspective on questions like “how long did it take X to accomplish Y” or “how old was X when they accomplished Y”. This insight provides me with clarity and solace when being frustrated and feeling like a failure.

My new answer to these questions is - it took them however long it took them. This is not a benchmark or a measure of comparison. Every single life can be seen as a path of many turns, decisions, hardships and experiences. There is no objective comparison between one small segment of someone’s life with my own life.

Reducing someone’s life to a single project or achievement (however “big” it is!) is first of all inaccurate and second of all it isn’t helpful in any way. What’s more, determining the “greatness” of anything is very subjective, and there are things at play we can never fully grasp or fully evaluate. Think about the butterfly effect as one example how difficult it is to evaluate a single action without looking at the overall picture (that’s still mostly unseen by us).

In this context, I would like to formulate a few reminders to myself:

  1. It is destructive to look at the achievements of someone else and being hard on myself for not having achieved something similar.
  2. It’s futile trying to measure how long it took someone for a single achievement. The “technically true” measurement of time is neither helpful nor accurate, and leaves out the entire spectrum of experiences and years of life before that achievement.
  3. And yet, it can be educational and interesting to look at the entire life path of other humans, learning from them and gaining inspiration.

So, how much time did I need to write this article? 44 minutes. Or about 28 years. It depends on your perspective.

Published 17 May 2020

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