It may seem counter intuitive, but not working is a better way to work.
Hear me out—we all look at work, career, aspirations as a linear progression of 1+1=2. I’m not arguing that it's inherently ineffective; cause and effect is a powerful driver of change. I’m suggesting that sometimes we may be focusing on the wrong way to achieve that change in our own lives.
Many Americans go through K-12 education, apply to college, get that four year degree, go get a job, live pay-check to paycheck, have kids, accrue items, accrue debt, pay it off, and repeat until retirement. The older you get, the easier it is to fall into that basic routine. That’s the trap, but routine can also save you.
Routine can save you or it can drown you.
The same motivation that gets you to complete the degree to get you the job you want, can also be the one that leads you to dump tens of thousands (or more) into a useless degree. My father asked me—“Do you think you need a degree to do what you want to do?” I wish I knew what I wanted to do then before I started working on that degree, because now I have the debt without a degree to show for it. I’m four classes away from finishing a degree on which would be written my pride (and about ten thousand more bucks). I don’t need the degree to do what I do. You might not either.
Notice that I said you may not need the degree, but I didn’t say you didn’t need the education. In all my life, it’s the most powerful thing I’ve been taught. Education isn’t just in schools, life teaches you, mentors teach you, books teach you, and every other bit of the world out there as well.
Investing in yourself.
So here’s the point—make time in your day today to invest in yourself. Be conscious of your knowledge consumption and be picky. Read a book, take a course, listen to a podcast on a topic you want to learn about. You don’t have 24hrs in a day, you probably have somewhere between 14-17hrs and less if you have a family to care for.
I spend about an hour a day to invest in myself. I’ve been reading entrepreneurial literature, listening to interesting podcasts, and taking online coursework. I also commit to working out once a day, because I live and work in the same home. Further, I make sure I get some quiet time for my own thoughts. Being a father of two taught me that if I don’t make time for myself, there’s not going to be the mental capacity to engage with the family right in front of me.
The space you will grow in is when you're not working.
On the surface, not working seems pointless—but not working is the space you’ll find opportunities to make your work all the more powerful.
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