Why should I read this guide?

Watch the video or read the article (3 minutes).

We’re called 80,000 Hours, because that’s roughly how many hours you’ll spend on your career: 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, for 40 years. In the image below, we’ve illustrated each hour with a dot.

There's 80,000 hours in a career

The four orange dots represent how long it’ll take to work through this guide, which we think shows it’s a pretty good deal. In fact, when we’ve delivered this content in workshops, over half the attendees changed what they plan to do with their lives.

This huge amount of time – 80,000 hours – means your choice of career is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Make the right choices, and you can help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems, as well as have a more rewarding, interesting life.

For such an important decision, however, there’s surprisingly little good advice out there. Most career advice focuses on things like how to write a CV, and much of the rest is just (misleading) platitudes like “follow your passion”. Most people we speak to don’t even use career advice – they just speak to friends and try to figure it out for themselves.

When it comes to helping others with your career, the advice usually assumes you need to work as a teacher, doctor, charity worker, and so on, even though these paths might not be a good fit for you, and were not what the highest-impact people in history did.

This guide aims to do better.

We started this work when we were students at Oxford, trying to figure out what to do with our own lives. We wondered: if we want to make the world a better place, should we work at a non-profit, do graduate study, work in business and donate to the best charities we could find, or something else entirely? We couldn’t find any good advice, so we did our own research and started giving talks.

Amazingly, some of the people we talked to completely changed their lives, and encouraged us to set up an organization. In November 2011 we founded 80,000 Hours in collaboration with academics at Oxford.

We’re a non-profit and we don’t take money from recruiters or companies, so all our advice is free and impartial. Our only aim is to help you to have a greater positive impact.

We do this by providing the advice we wish we’d had – easy to use, transparently explained and based on the best evidence available.

Since our founding, we’ve read all the literature we can find, spoken to experts in most major career areas, and tested our advice one-on-one with hundreds of people.

As of today, we’ve had over a million readers, and over 1,000 people have significantly changed their career plans due to our advice (and that’s just the ones we know about). Our readers have pledged over $30 million to effective charities and founded 10 new organizations focused on doing good. Some are saving hundreds of lives in international development, some are working on neglected areas of government policy, and others are developing groundbreaking technology.

In this guide, we’ll summarize all the key things we’ve learned from the last five years of research and advising. The aim is to help you find work you’re good at, you enjoy, and that has a big positive impact on the world.

How to use the guide

  • The easiest thing to do is to sign up to the newsletter, and we’ll send you one part each week for nine weeks.
  • Alternatively, you can see a video lecture (90min), or read the first full article right away (15min). Here’s a one minute outline of everything.
  • You can also order the guide as a book – it’s rated 5 stars on Amazon.
  • The first 4 articles look at what to aim for in the longer term, then we work towards creating a concrete plan of next steps.
  • The guide is especially aimed at students and graduates in their 20s, but many sections are relevant to everyone. If you’re older, especially focus on part 1, 2a, 2b, 2c and 5.
  • If you set aside a couple of hours to read everything and use the planning tool at the end, you’ll get much more out of it. It might even change your life. 🙂

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Or get everything as a book on Amazon.