5-9 Years of Obsession Will save You 5 Decades of Working a 9-5

The entire productivity and self-help industry is irrelevant to an obsessed person.

Tim Denning
The Startup
Published in
6 min readFeb 17


Photo by Iryna Makarchuk on Unsplash

50 years is a bloody long time to commit.

Most of us choose a profession and then blindly follow it for the rest of our careers. I did that with banking.

I’m only lukewarm about the idea of banking. It doesn’t change the world. It doesn’t make me jump out of bed. No.

I just feel a slight pulse but it doesn’t make my heart beat faster.

The way to avoid 50 years of mediocre work is to replace it with 5 years of obsession (hat-tilt to Zach Pogrob whose quote is the headline).

Here’s how.

Working a 9-5 is what you do when you’ve got no idea what you want to do

Leah Njoki says “The majority of people don’t want to be at work. They’re there because they don’t know where else to be.”

This idea has driven so much of my thinking about work. Many of us would love to quit our jobs but our family situation doesn’t let us.

We’re trapped by a needy family, or worse, by debt. The debt payments don’t stop just because you want to change your life. Getting rid of the debt isn’t an overnight reality either.

So …. we settle. We do just enough. We keep dreaming. We use the timeline of “one day” and hope. This is no way to live, but it’s the default option.

Obsession is the vaccine to the mundane life virus.

Image Credit-@drex_jpg via this tweet

The new science of obsession

The self-help and productivity movements have been huge.

The entire industry is worth billions of dollars. Only recently have I realized the common advice this industry offers falls short.

You don’t need habits, goals, vision boards, self-improvement.

Why? The entire productivity and self-help industry is irrelevant to an obsessed…



Tim Denning
The Startup

Aussie Blogger with 500M+ views — Writer for CNBC & Business Insider. Inspiring the world through Personal Development and Entrepreneurship — timdenning.com/mb