Mayan Calendar 2012: How The End-Of-The-World Myth Can Help Your Career
The Mayans were quite an advanced civilization. They had agriculture, written language and, as we've been learning in story after story this week, a calendar. Mayan civilization itself ended hundreds of years ago, but the calendar ticked along until. ... Dec. 21, 2012.
Cue the scary music! A sizable proportion of the population, it seems, believes the world will end with the end of the Mayan calendar. NASA went so far as to hold a Google chat where people could ask questions about whether asteroids or other celestial bodies were hurtling toward earth.
Astronomers assured people that nothing is scheduled to hit this week. Indeed, the end of the Mayan calendar isn't quite the story it seems at first glance. When our own calendar "ends" on Dec. 31 every year, we don't worry about doomsday scenarios. We know the calendar simply starts over again, and likewise, if the Mayans were still around, I imagine they would have celebrated the end of one (long) calendar and the beginning of another.
Here's one that a friend posed in an email recently: If you thought the world was ending, would you still go to work?
I imagine most of us would not choose to face an imminent doomsday scenario by leaving our loved ones, battling traffic (would there still be rush hour?) and then sitting in a beige office sending emails about a meeting we'd prefer not to attend anyway, scheduled to take place some time in the future. The future! We'd spend our precious few days with people we loved, doing things we loved.
Or at least that's what we tell ourselves. But let's take a minute to define "imminent." It means hanging over one's head. Impending. About to happen. Forthcoming. The reality is that all of our own personal worlds will be ending at some point. If you're reading this, the odds are good that your (and my) personal doomsday scenarios will happen in the next 60 years. Sixty years is kind of a blip, cosmically. It certainly will take place a long time before the next Mayan calendar flip-over (Oct. 13, 4772)
To be sure, civilization would grind to a halt if we didn't distinguish between doomsday in a week, and doomsday in the next half-century. We can hunker in our homes, but eventually we have to eat, which means earning money to do so.
Nonetheless, I think there's a case to be made for at least keeping the doomsday scenario in the back of your head as you evaluate how you're spending your time.
There are many reasons we work, but 40 hours per week is a lot to spend on something you don't enjoy and find meaningful, given that an asteroid is hurtling toward your own personal existence, and eventually all of our Mayan calendars won't flip over again.
Does your life's work fit in with the doomsday scenario?
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Laura Vanderkam is the author of All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending (Portfolio, 2012), and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (Portfolio, 2010). She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children, and blogs daily at www.lauravanderkam.com.
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