written by
Mike Speer

What We Can Learn from the Game of Thrones Cultural Phenomenon

life 4 min read

Game of Thrones is a cultural phenomenon. 17.4 million viewers tuned in last Sunday evening to watch the long awaited season 8 premiere. It was the biggest telecast in HBO's history.

Full disclosure: I don't watch Game of Thrones. However, when practically everyone I know is tweeting #winteriscoming, it's impossible to ignore the hype behind the show. While I'm not a GoT fan, I have to admit that I was curious —not about the show itself, but about the level of enthusiasm and attention that people pay to it. It's a sort of passion that you rarely see in everyday life. That's why I wanted to take a dive into the GoT fan base and find out more.

In my (admittedly) unscientific study, I looked at 20-30 social profiles from self-proclaimed die-hard Game of Thrones fans, and in about 90% of cases, I didn’t have to scroll far to see that these GoT buffs had one other thing in common—they were all unhappy.

Okay, okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh. It's true that I can't judge everything about a person's life from their Facebook profile. However, it was clear that they weren't entirely satisfied. Many of their comments and posts were negative, with the main subject of their displeasure often being the same thing —work. Work seemed to be the largest factor in their unhappiness.

They simultaneously looked forward to and dreaded Sunday night. On the one hand, it meant that their favorite show was returning to television. On the other, it meant the end of another weekend and a return to their jobs the next day. I've got to say, that juxtaposition is startling. It's weird to see someone go from excited and exuberant to negative and disinterested in the short time span between their last post.

Early yesterday morning when I was thinking about all this, I was scrolling through my social feeds, and I came across this comment:

“Why is it that a 1-hour episode of Game of Thrones feels like 15 minutes, but an hour of work feels like 3 hours?”

The average work week clocks in at 40 hours (not counting commute). That's about 24% of your week that's spent at work. And the hour it takes you to watch the new episode of Game of Thrones? That's only 0.005% of your week.

If you only spend 0.005% of your week on something that makes you happy and ignites your passion but you spend 24% of your time on something you despise, that's a problem. We all need to find the thing that brings us happiness for the other 167 hours in a week. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could look forward to work in the same way we look forward to Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones  IG Comment

This gap in enthusiasm is an extension of the “living for the weekend” mentality, and I find it incredibly sad. You deserve to be happy for more than 2 out of every 7 days.

There's a line from the book that I stumbled upon during the course of my research that I wanted to share. In the first book of George R.R. Martin's series, Tyrion says, "Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it." If you're unhappy at work, you have two options. You can either deny it and keep wasting nearly a quarter of your life doing something you hate, or you can face the truth and do something about it.

Much of the time, people feel trapped in their current career because they're used to a certain lifestyle, and they don't want to take a pay cut to pursue a different track. But consider this, "How much is your happiness worth to you?"

I, personally, would rather give up a few thousand dollars a year to do something that makes me excited to wake up in the morning, every morning (not just on the weekend). That's worth doing some downsizing.

Remember, unless you’re living out of your car, you don't have to take any job offered to you, and you don’t have to stay in the same career you started out in 2, 5 , 10, even 30 years ago.

If you're not happy, it's in your power to change that.

Don't get me wrong; it's great to have hobbies and interests and passions outside of work. However, that same level of excitement you get from talking about Game of Thrones should also be present in the other areas of your life.

After all, wouldn't life be so much better if you could always feel the way you did at 9 p.m. on Sunday?

Thanks for reading! Reach me on Twitter @realmikespeer to talk career, entrepreneurship, branding, and marketing.

life lessons self-improvement career advice work television