Your products are your diary.
Every tried to keep a journal? Write down your thoughts at the end of each day, week, or even month? Ever lose that diary, lose interest in writing in it, or just forget to write for months or years at a time? While keeping a journal is a great routine and habit that allows you valuable, personal time for introspection, reflection, and documentation of your life, it’s often a routine that we give up before really getting underway.
Many people feel engaged when actively creating. Creating words on the page, a meal, a piece of furniture for the house, a painting, or anything else provides the kind of fulfillment most of us don’t always find in the office. When your work is 100%, 90% or even 10% driven by someone else’s (a boss’s) desires and motivations, it’s 100%, 90%, or 10% unfulfilling. If you’re anything like the 87% of workers worldwide who, as Gallup puts it, ‘are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive’ (a.k.a unhappy at work), think about putting your own name on something.
Once you’ve created something yourself, you’ll not only enjoy a new kind of fulfillment but create an interactive journal of your life. Looking back on songs you wrote, canvases you painted, or gardens you fertilized, you’ll see, touch, and re-experience the products you made and the times during which you made them.
You know how you can hear a song and remember exactly where you were the first time you heard it? Looking back on your products will let you re-experience the situations, emotions, and states of mind of the process of creating something by your own abilities and motivations.
Your time is worth money.
It’s true. Whether through education, exercise, research, or side-hustling, your time is money.
With education, you’re making an investment in human capital. Your human capital is your potential, your opportunities. Investing in education is increasing the power of your brain, increasing your vocational qualifications, and usually increasing your network. That investment in human capital will pay off in the satisfaction of having improved your brain as well as a higher-paying job, a more fulfilling career, and maybe an adjusted set of values.
With exercise, you again invest in yourself. Exercising makes you happier and more productive, it keeps your body in the shape that it’s meant to be in (and there are many of those shapes), and it saves you (hundreds of) thousands of dollars in future medical costs. It also gives you time away from screens and the constant visual and aural assault that most of us experience nonstop. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your brain is step away from the laptop, take out the earbuds, and swim, pick up weights and put them back down, or jog, free of stimulation and distraction.
With research, your financial benefit is more direct: researching investment strategies, insurance plans, used cars, houses, neighborhoods, cities, or any number of things that impact your choices can bring thousands of dollars in benefits. We’ve already shown you how you can earn $85,000 more per decade just by cutting down an expense ratio by 0.8%. Spending just a few hours, or just one hour if you follow the WLI sections of our site, can make you hundreds of thousands of dollars richer. And that’s just in the long-term investing department!
Finally, side-hustles are any number of entrepreneurial activity you take on outside of your regular job. They could be credit card churning, blogging, proofreading, translating, transcribing, Uber-driving, brand-ambassadoring, task-rabbitting, etc. etc. etc. We’ve already shown you how just $5.75 extra each week, when invested, can make you $200,000 richer in 50 years. How about making just $50 extra each week and getting a whole lot richer a whole lot faster?
Self-improvement and self-sufficiency are empowering.
Pursuing a new goal or project comes with its own set of obstacles: the self-improvement associated with learning the skills to tackle those obstacles is empowering. The fulfillment that comes from being productive in your free time is closely tied to the feeling of becoming a better person, one with more knowledge and skill. The very process of learning is empowering- as is the pride in creating something new. The author of this article overcame quite a learning curve when designing WLI. Now it feels damn good to know that this polished and popular site is the product of some love and elbow grease.
Self-sufficiency is similarly chock full of feel-goodness. Not only will you save money by being able to deal with things yourself (picking investments, shopping for cars, fixing the sink, fixing the bike, fixing the sink again), but you’ll be empowered by your ability to take care of shit on your own. We depend on third parties for everything, so the feeling of taking control, saving some money, and improving your life with your own two hands is a great one.
Luxury and leisure are mythical and relative.
Every feeling is relative- we only know sad days by comparing them to happy ones. We only appreciate the value of money when we’ve known what it’s like to work for it while having none. And we only know leisure by the working days that precede them. It doesn’t just automatically show up in life’s queue on Friday at 5:30 and disappear again Monday morning.
As for young people, we generally have no excuses. Grown-ups work all day/week and come home to work all evening/weekend as parents. Good God. We should work all day and keep working all evening to better ourselves and our futures because we likely won’t have time some years down the road.
When you’ve maximized the hours available to you, when you’ve put your name on work that you know is good, of which you can be proud, and when you’ve set yourself up for a future that’s better than your present, leisure time will actually mean something. Leisure isn’t just indulging the ever-present whim to not be working. It’s is the well-earned break from the maximization of the twenty-four hours you get each day.
If you work on a passion project, laboring for love, and crash into bed bone-tired in happy exhaustion, proud of the effort you’ve put in, a pre-sleep episode of Breaking Bad is going to be a heck of a lot more enjoyable. Isn’t there some old expression about Jack playing with his candlestick and becoming a dull, idle devil-boy? Anyway…
Life is short, you dig?
When Saturday rolls around, can you put your name on those five working days that preceded it? Can you sit back on the couch, the lawn chair, or the beach blanket and do absolutely nothing productive, knowing that you maximized your working hours We’ve only got so long on the earth, or maybe God only gave us so much time. YOLO is maybe the most poorly understood phrase among Generation Y, but carpe diem comes a bit closer.
When you get 24 hours per day, and 8 of them have to be spent sleeping, and 8 of them are spent at work, and 1 of them has to be spent eating, and 1 of them has to be spent getting dressed, undressed, and cleaned up, you’ve only got four hours left with which to do something! And if you’re anything like the average American, you’ll spend another hour and forty minutes in the car. That leaves you with two hours and twenty minutes. Holy shit.
(By the way, dear college-aged readers, you’ve got more time than anyone and manage to waste it far more spectacularly.)
If you want more in life, something must change. It’s true that you have to spend time with your loved ones, but you’ve also got to set yourself up for a better life than the one you’ve got now. And how does that happen? Work. Save as much of your income as possible, side-hustle your way to an extra income, research (like we mentioned above) to earn yourself (hundreds of) thousands of dollars more during your life, and ultimately get as far away as possible from any job that doesn’t 100% fulfill you.
We haven’t mentioned this because it’s obvious, but: If you’re doing something you love, you’re getting all the benefits of working and none of its costs. Try, above all else, to do that thing.
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