Goto college, graduate and get a good job at a big corporation, work at that job for 40-ish years, and then finally retire to travel, play golf, and read that book written by Hemmingway or somebody or other and write your memoir.
You’ve probably heard this life model hundreds of times. It has been around for nearly a century and has been followed without question for just as long.
I often play tennis with my retired neighbors in the middle of the day and they don’t understand. How can I hit for a couple hours, and then head home to pick up my work right where I left it? They waited until they were 70 for the kind of freedom I enjoy. Usually they wrongly assume I am underemployed or not successful.
How could I be? I don’t fit nicely into the model.
Steve Glaveski writes in his book Time Rich, “When I find myself at the beach at 3 pm while the rest of the world is seemingly hard at work, it can invoke guilt. But then I remind myself: I’ve developed systems and outsourced work, which means that while I’m at the beach, X value is being generated– the equivalent of my working 12 plus hours. Not only that, but I’ve already spent several hours in deep work that day, and any subsequent investment would only be in vain, and would cost me and my business pursuits in the long term.”
How am I able to take a post lunch walk everyday and if I happen to run into a friend I can choose to sit and chat for a couple hours?
I’ve all but given up trying to explain what I do. After quitting my job most of my family can’t tell you what I do for a living because I don’t just have that job title at a corporation anymore. Did they understand what I did before? Probably not…
But at least they felt comfortable and safe because I was in a standard box. I could be filled away in a mental filing cabinet somewhere with all the other random facts about me. James Quandahl. Retail Manager, once ran a marathon, likes to play chess, seems to read a lot of books, likes to talk about food… etc, etc.
But as Pat Walls remarked, “With this freedom, we now stress about how we’re not being productive enough with it. We’re focused on the “next milestone” or that shiny new thing in the distance.” I now will occasionally feel guilty that I am somehow cheating the system. I feel like I should be taking on more than I am just to be busier. Crazy.
Thankfully, I have a good friend that is much wiser than I am and he keeps me in check. I give him a call when I am feeling the urge to take on additional projects just to fill my time.
He reminds me that more work won’t necessarily make me happier and that being able to play chess, tennis, workout, cook, take walks, and read during the day and still get a reasonable amount of work done is something to hold onto.