Last night I had a conversation with a friend, colleague, and mentor about the amount of work I cranked out last week.
“The other guys, they’re wondering how you do it. It’s almost like you’re a monster.”
Monster, beast, whatever you want to call it, the remark stunned me. I’ve heard it before, but I don’t really understand why working hard and being productive is a bad thing. If you really enjoy what you’re doing then the “work” isn’t something that’s really seen as work. Moving forward with goals to accomplish what you want in life isn’t something that should be seen as “work.”
In the last week, I’ve launched a 501(c)(3) with an immense amount of detailed paperwork. I’ve cranked out YouTube and podcast content. I’ve written for Fault Lines. I settled a case in mediation with a contingency that will take care of a good portion of my bills. I did all this work and managed to still spend time with my family, cook dinner on most nights, and get in quality time with those I love most.
I even “worked” two days with a sick kid. That’s a feat when you practice law or do any form of business. I’m lucky to be able to work from home most days, so it wasn’t too terrible of an issue, but it did crack down on the amount of work I was able to produce. My various forms of work usually require peak focus, so having to divide my attention between cranking out a brief and doling out the next portion of crackers demanded by a two year old can hamper the work that gets finished on a certain day.
But still I work. I do more in a given day than the average Joe ever will, because I have to keep moving. I have to continually move towards my goal of providing for my family in ways I have yet to achieve.
When I don’t work, I experience a certain feeling of dread or anxiety. I’m comfortable with relaxing, mind you. It’s something that has to happen so the body experiences balance. If there’s tasks that need completion, and my mind actively knows it, then I have to work. There’s no time for playing a round of “Gunman Taco Truck” on the iPhone if even something as simple as dirty dishes are in need of cleaning.
Everything during my day is usually planned out the night before. This is a habit I’ve developed since starting the Best Self notebook mentioned in a previous post. It doesn’t always happen, but the Best Self format encourages you to block out your work in 30 minute slots. Sometimes my work takes more than thirty minutes for a task.
When you block out your work and plan your day, you find you get more accomplished. You move closer towards your goals. You get insane amounts of productivity because your body and mind are actively training to work more than ever before. You keep moving forward.
Even when I’m not working, I’m usually thinking about the next move or the next line of work to pursue. This is a habit from my law school days, when one of the Trial Advocacy professors told me in an inebriated rant “While you sleep, other people are figuring out ways to make your money.” I took from that a notion of never stop thinking about the next way to pursue what you want, especially if it’s a business endeavor that will lead to your success.
Have I reached a plateau of success yet? Not in the traditional sense that most people would think. I’m no millionaire, I don’t drive a Maserati, and I don’t dine at Ruth’s Chris on a regular basis. But I do have a good job, I have friends and family I can count on when needed, and I put food on the table. I have a roof over my head.
I set out to reach goals daily. I work daily to reach those goals. More often than not I manage to hit most of them, but that’s because I plan the work, I execute the work, and then when I don’t accomplish a task on a given day I try to figure out where things went wrong and learn from the missteps.
People don’t want to work in America. This is a fact few are willing to mention. They want to collect a paycheck, sure, but they don’t want to find a meaningful way to fulfill their lives. Some are so desperate they go on the dole, sure, but by and large we are a hedonistic, wage slave society.
Most people would rather count on the security of a paycheck, slaving at something they really hate doing, because they at least know the money is coming somewhere. In the meantime they go to the nine to five, converse with co-workers they hate, put up with the boss telling them to come in on Saturday, and count on those two days at the “week end” when they can put their feet up and binge watch Netflix.
This sort of work produces nothing of value to the person or society. It brings you money, sure, but work that brings you money and fulfills you is far more satisfying. It makes you a success when you can get up each day, do that which you love, and get paid to do it. Most people will never reach this level of work, because catching up on the latest episodes of “Black Mirror” or “Game of Thrones” is more important than creating work that will lead to a successful life.
One of the goals I set for today was to sit down and write 1,000 words about something. I had no idea it would eventually be about work, and the process or views I see as my work. Yet here I am, at almost eight in the morning, and I’ve already reached a goal.
What will you start doing today to actively work?