Are you awake to see opportunities?
Why is it that some people have the knack to see an opportunity and seize it, and others just watch them pass by?
If you are awake for 16 hours a day, and at least 8 of those hours, 5 days a week, are devoted to serving your boss, then you have given up a minimum of 35% of your life to your employer. More than likely it is closer to 50%. How can you look yourself in the mirror with pride doing that? Or be present for your kids or your spouse? Who's really more important here?
This really comes down to a belief system of who is more important - YOU or your boss?
Have we really lost our sanity to think that devoting more than 50% of your life to the service of others, at the expense of your own quality of life, the quality of life of your family, your children that rely on you to support and nurture them, your elders, and your own personal happiness, is an acceptable modus operandi?
Look, you were born in this world alone. You will die alone. What goes on between those two points is your life. It isn’t your employers, it isn’t your governments, and it isn’t your bankers. It is your life. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can find peace.
If we look at the human psychological needs to be wanted, it starts to make sense. Those that have egos that constantly need validation by others around them are more likely to become wage slaves. The study of human ego unveils the most important and consuming part of our psyche and therefore it is not surprising that people blindly embrace the social mantra of going to school, studying hard, graduate college, get a good job, work until you are at least 65 and then retire in the sunset. But statistics show us that what I will call a 20th century social paradigm doesn’t work.
The “Boeing study” which was done to look at pension funds and how long they have to be covered for retiring workers discovered that those that retired at 55 years old, lived on (on average) to age 83, but those that retired at 65 years old, had a life expectancy of only 18 months past retirement. If you want to know more about this study, here’s a BBC News article on it.
According to the Institute for Family Relations journal (v61 No 4, October 2012) which looked at data from 4,574 couples in the USA they discovered that arguments based on financial disagreements were the strongest disagreement types to predict divorce for both men & women.
The Pew Research Center in November 2015 showed a rise in percentage of couples where both parents work full time, at around 46% of couples. What is hard to correlate is how that affects the children being raised in those households due to limited time and exposure to parents who are spending 50% of their life devoted to their employer’s demands rather than their role as parents, however one would have to accept that the quality of upbringing that the child gets is severely impacted by this devotion to job over family.
But I would further state that a person at peace is a person that we all want to be around. Those that have interesting things to talk about, are willing to engage in deeper and more interactive conversations help all of us. If those conversations are limited to what happened at work today, which really no one cares at all about, then that person’s wisdom is being severely impacted as well. The constant demands of work would naturally have a “dumbing down” effect on workers as they are not being challenged outside of performing tasks related only to their title and their employer’s demands.
Additionally there is a financial and time cost to just participate in work. This means spending time on the road in traffic to get to and from work and home. The number of single drivers in cars on freeways where the cars seat at least 4 people is pure inefficiency. Yet we never question this. Governments attempt to reduce pollution by creating HOV lanes as an incentive for those to car pool to/from work but the reality is that employers have differing levels of demands and people don’t arrive at the same time or leave work at the same time. This means more traffic on the road, more pollution & emissions and more wear & tear on cars, resulting in landfills of cars that were over-driven well before their normal life expectancy.
This is the question that faces us all. Day to day financial needs become the shiny light that we focus on, at the detriment to ourselves and our families. Those of us without any self-discipline to see beyond these distractions are doomed to succumb to them and ultimate are victims to them. This is 99% of society. I’d love think that it isn’t this high, but it is. And most of us don’t think we are doing anything wrong.
We show up for work in nice clothes, we are happy and upbeat, we high-five each other over our so-called achievements in duty to our employers, we are strong supporters of our employer’s mission and we embrace devotion. We are rewarded with employer provided salaries, health insurance, retirement benefits, etc. but these things are only expense line items to the payroll of the employer - they are not there to help us out. Despite the BS that they may spin to you, they don’t give a crap about you. If shareholders demand increasing revenues and you are not helping, either directly or indirectly, you will be fired. It isn’t that you are a bad person, or you are a poor performer. “It’s just business” as they say.
They will take out multi-million dollar advertisements for the Superbowl to make them look like they are nice people, supportive of the community, following a path that is pure and helps everyone. That’s total 100% fiction, and you know it. Yet you look forward to those very Superbowl ads because they represent the pinnacle of marketing hypnotism and the very same marketing agencies that are the doctors of spin have toiled for years to make them - with their own employees devoting their own lives to the cause. And the circle of life continues.
Back to the question - can you afford to be selfish? Sure you can. First you have to understand our physiological needs to survive on planet earth. Food, shelter & clothing to start with. If you have a plan for each one of these things that is based on not needing Fiat currency to get them, then you won’t die due to lack of money. Few of us have such a plan. We don’t grow our own food, we don’t house-hack or live under another’s roof and few of us find ways to buy clothing inexpensively yet we are surrounded by recycled clothing stores everywhere. Some even use the process of buying the things that are needed as “retail therapy” further demonstrating that they are the most vulnerable to psychological manipulation by marketing & advertising.
If you have a plan to be sustainable for base level needs, you can use the essence of that plan upwards. You can find ways to generate your own electricity, you can use nature as a way to decrease reliance on health care, you can use the library rather than spending hundreds each month on cable TV subscriptions, etc. You can embrace frugality by using your time to find bargains reducing the need to earn hundreds of thousands in income, because you don’t have the time to spend to reduce outgoing expenditure.
Imagine if you got back 50% of your time. What could you do with that? What adventures could you have? What knowledge would you gain? What challenges would you put yourself through? What type of story would you really have to share with others?
I remember one time I was in California and I wanted to get a coffee. I normally make my own coffee at home, but I was out and about doing something and I decided I was going to get a Starbucks. Today the last time I’ve had a Starbucks would be about 3 years ago, because I can’t bring myself to spend $3+ for a cup of coffee that I can make at home for $0.10. I mean I can put coffee in a thermostat and drink it in my car - why the hell would I spend that sort of money at Starbucks? But in this one memorable occasion I was standing in line in California for a Starbucks.
The people in Southern California are really nice. They will talk to you without fear. They have smiles on their faces. They laugh, they are friendly. This guy in front of me in the line sparked up a conversation with me. He wanted to know what I did? I tried to explain that I don’t “do” or have a job. That seemed really odd to him, but he started to want to talk about the stock market or parrot what he had heard on TV that day. None of which was relevant to our lives. I started to realize I didn’t belong here. I didn’t belong in that line and I didn’t belong in those social circles. I had nothing in common with my own experiences, and that was the #1 reason I don’t tend to socialize at Starbucks. Funny thing is that we have a local coffee shop in Scottsdale where I live, and I often go there with my laptop to write and I love their coffee. Going there at 11AM you meet a different breed of people. They don’t have jobs. Many are either self-employed or retired. When they spark up a conversation with you, it is typically of substance. I avoid those that are hypnotized by politics but I love to hear about other people’s stories of their achievements, their travels, etc. Those things motivate me. I’ve learned a lot surrounding myself with people who are atypical with the “Walking Dead” as I call them - those with full-time jobs, careers or devotion above all to an employer. I have nothing in common with them and I never want to have anything in common with them.
The truth is that I’ve discovered wisdom and knowledge 20x the level that I would have got if I was working all day. That’s because I can think freer and clearly. Maybe it is why you are reading this blog. I wrote this article in one of my free-thinking periods where I realized that a lot of what I take for granted is alien to 99% of the US workforce.
But I can tell you that the grass is far greener over this side of the mountain. It is just up to us to be willing to climb out of the rut that society has chosen for us.
You are expected to be selfish. You were born alone and you will die alone. It is ok to be selfish. It is ok to look after yourself first, and assuming you have the confidence and lack insecurity that comes from knowing who you are, then you are of value to others around you. You can help facilitate other’s changes in their lives. You will be more interesting to be around, you will be more attractive to others and you will give others hope that they can break free of giving their lives to an employer. Your freedom is contagious and you have earned the right to raise a family because you can be present. You don’t have the right to bring another life into the world if you cannot be present for that life. We never say this, but it is 100% true. If you are not present because you chose to give 50% of your life to your employer, you don’t have enough left to give to yourself, your spouse or your children.
I personally don’t want to inherit the social problems with kids that had non-present parents or lack their own confidence because they were never covertly affected by witnessing those around them that demonstrated that very confidence. Those that submitted to an employer over family demonstrated to their kids the lack of self-confidence in their own actions and that just replicates in the child’s own experience. We put our kids in ballet, theater, judo, debating, etc. to help them develop their own self-confidence when they are children yet we never demonstrate to them that very same self-confidence in our actions. And actions/demonstration speaks 20x louder than what they are being taught in the other, expensive, activities that we feel they should be in.
I put my kid through ballet school and what I saw were parents that had psychological problems with their own lack of attention - pushing that very same issue onto their kids. They did everything, almost one step below murder, to get their kids in front of the stage because they were living their own dysfunctional existence through the proxy of their children. They wanted attention and never got it as a child because their parents were not present, or if they were their minds were on the stresses of work and demands of employer. The kids got what little was left at the end of the day. So when they put their kids into the ballet school, the parents acted like children themselves. You see it with the popularity of TV shows like “Dance Moms” which demonstrates the very same craziness that we accept as “normal” today.
Imagine if you were an immigrant from a village in Africa, where families were present around the kids and supported the kids. You land at JFK airport and watch that TV show. What would you think of Americans? You’d think they are all crazy and you would want to get the hell out as soon as you could. But the very same Americans don’t see themselves as crazy. They don’t see devoting 50% of their lives to employers as crazy. They don’t see taking on $50K of debt to buy the latest Lexus or Tesla as crazy. They don’t see spending $100K to get a permission slip to become a wage slave for the rest of their lives in college as crazy. They don’t see buying a McMansion were they use 10% of the square footage in the property and left the other 90% to house their furnishings and pay cleaners to dust it as crazy. They don’t see having land as being an opportunity to grow something on it, yet invest in a pool that gets used maybe 10 times a year, but requires enormous energy costs to filter the water through it.
This is crazy. And what you look at this and realize that it comes in a measured financial cost, but more importantly it comes at a cost of how to generate that very same money, that you start to realize just how crazy it really is. And if you are sacrificing all the other parts of life because you are under the gun to live this way - losing half of your life to an employer so you never have the time to really enjoy that house or that car or that pool, then you can see how crazy this really looks to someone who sees this from a 1,000 foot view.
How about you start thinking selfishly about you. Your time, your peace, your sanity, your fulfillment and stop trying to pretend that buying things will do that. It won’t. You won’t get peace from a new 4K TV. You won’t get peace from a bigger house. You won’t get peace from that new car and its car payment.
The fictional quest we have for the “middle class” is to become part of some government spreadsheet for the extraction of taxes. Taxes that are rarely spent to support the citizenry of the country, but goes to support endless wars, debt servicing, etc. Again, more craziness. But you gotta live somewhere, so it comes with some tax cost of living in the craziness. Since you have to pay at the threat of a gun, you don’t have a choice. At least if you don’t need to earn a lot of money because you are free of the craziness, you don’t have to pay as much in taxes either. That’s a circle of life I can embrace.