Steward Brand on Project Worth Doing

Kevin Kelly shares some advice inspired by Stewart Brand:

My friend Stewart Brand, who is now 69, has been arranging his life in blocks of 5 years. Five years is what he says any project worth doing will take. From moment of inception to the last good-riddance, a book, a campaign, a new job, a start-up will take 5 years to play through. So, he asks himself, how many 5 years do I have left? He can count them on one hand even if he is lucky. So this clarifies his choices. If he has less than 5 big things he can do, what will they be?

Does any project worth doing actually take five years? That’s arguable. As always, there’s lots of nuance below the surface. But the essence of the idea is what’s interesting.

If I assume I’ll live to the average lifespan of 80 years old, currently I’m 25, that gives me 11 projects worth taking on. If it’s only 11, I better make them worth it.

September 1, 2022

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