August 9, 2022

The Most Important Question to ask ourselves about how we want to Work & Live.


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“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life…because that field is not hiring.”

My youngest son is 15 and we get to spend lots of time together—I love it. We’ve had many good discussions and as he has gotten older, the topics we discuss have begun to skew toward real life: cars, relationships, money, and work.

Every once in a while he’ll say, “Why don’t they tell us about this stuff in school?”

He wants to get a job at some point but during the first year of COVID-19, I taught him how to become an online reseller (think Ebay) and he makes money doing that now—running his own business. When we look at how much freedom he has, how much he’s learned, and how he has enough money to meet his needs and have a little more freedom, it’s not easy to give that up for the promise of a steadier paycheck.

This is where I would start if I were young again and looking for an income: What do I need and what will it cost me?

Notice that I said looking for an income, not finding a job—they aren’t necessarily the same thing.

If I had to change something about my past, it would be how much time I gave away to employers who really didn’t care what it cost me. I was salaried for a lot of my career, so there was no perk for working beyond the “normal” hours except that I could say I did it. Fear was a big motivator as the expectation was always that you would do whatever it took to get the work done. As I added more responsibilities and family, the fear of losing a job and the impact on others if I did grew and so I did what I had to in order to feel secure.

Mind you, I generally like working and the feeling of satisfaction that can come with it. I was a good employee and got to travel and work on special projects, which was fun. I’m sure though that the years of 50 and 60-plus hour work weeks, not including the 90-minute daily drive time during good weather, contributed to the dissolution of my first marriage. I was gone a lot and I was tired a lot. I lost time—and you can’t get that back.

When you’re on the other side of young, this really matters. I lost a lot of myself, hobbies, activities, and people I enjoyed for a salary, but not enough to justify the loss of time.

I never achieved the security I desired either. During the last retail downsizing, I lost my job even though I had just turned around two low-performing locations. They ask you to manage a location and don’t let you know that the lease is up in 12 months and they do not plan to renew. My marriage ended soon after that.

So what I am asking you to do is pause for a minute and ask what the best thing is for you to do. Pause…rest for a minute. Then ask yourself:

What do you need?
How can you meet those needs?
What do you want?

And most importantly: What are the best ways (not the fastest or the easiest) for you to gain the income you need to live a life that is what you both want and need?

These criteria will change given age and circumstance, and that is precisely why it is so important that you stop, right now, to think about the life you want and how you can gain the income to support it. I believe that we learn too early the “lesson” that we must work to live instead of taking the view that our work should support our life—not be the central focus of it.

There is nothing wrong with having a traditional job or income, but there may be a better way for you. And if there is, you don’t want to miss it just because you didn’t take a little bit of time to explore and see what’s out there. You don’t get time back, so invest it wisely.

I hope to explore more about how to find a job, how to interview, and how to get promoted in future articles. But first, take a minute to breathe and think things through.


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