As of late I have been relentlessly pursuing my goals of personal growth and development as the last of my undergraduate college career winds down. I am currently reading The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. I came across this statement today that struck me as particularly important:
Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness. This is hard for most people to accept, because our [American] culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity.
This is something that has bothered me for some time now. As a soon-to-be college graduate, I am often surprised when people ask me if I'm excited to get out into the work force. That in itself is not a surprising question, but my surprise comes from their apparent shock when I respond with more or less "hell no, who would be?". The idea of spending 40 years of my life working eight hours a day at a wage that is determined by the person who is stuffing their pockets by my work ethic? Who ever thought that to be a great idea?
If you realize that your most precious resource is TIME itself, why would one want to spend that resource doing something that is most often repetitive and unfulfilling? This is not the case for all, some people are able to find gainful employment doing what they love, or doing something that they find worthwhile. But isn't it interesting to think that so many people work for hourly wages that are hardly a fraction of what one would consider that time to actually be worth, if viewed as a finite resource?
It is interesting to see that as some of my generation are awakening to this reality, we are shrugged off as "lazy" because we don't see the inherent value of going through the same motions our parents did.
How did sacrificing your life, your time- time spent with your kids, time spent bettering yourself, time spent doing what you enjoy, become more important than what you produce with that time? Taking a step back, even from a business perspective, it makes sense to value productive employees than non-productive employees.
The beautiful idea behind this book and this lifestyle is the idea that no longer should one person have to give up the best years of their life, hoping that they can maybe do what they would really like to do later. Instead, you can do what you want to do AND make a living NOW. As Farris believes- relative income is more important than absolute income. This means that what you make in relation to how much time you spend working and how much money you spend is more important than the bottom line on your paycheck. Farriss gives the example that someone who makes $50,000 a year working 10 hours a week is much wealthier than someone who makes $300,000 a year working 60 hours a week: For the amount of time you spend working, you are much more financially productive and are left with your TIME to better yourself in whatever ways you wish.
Clearly this method of looking at the world is no for everyone, but I believe that it is a valuable perspective to look at. People often seem to forget that their time on this earth is finite, and because of that they procrastinate and hold off on pursuing their dreams. We, especially in America, live in a time of great advantage and opportunity. We have the opportunity to have lots of free time, which many of my generation squander with ultimately meaningless "entertainment". I call upon my generation to not be afraid to better yourselves. To grow. To never allow yourself to overestimate your obstacles or underestimate yourself, and to treat your time as precious as it really is. You can achieve what you set out for.