5 Ways to Work Less and Love It


 

Is this how your job makes you feel?

Is this how your job makes you feel?

Work is love made visible.  –Kahlil Gibran

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation –Henry David Thoreau

I just got back from vacation in Vermont.  It’s our annual family vacation, and we all crave the time that we can get together up there, chill out, have fun, relax.  

One of my favorite things to do in Vermont is to read.  While perusing the books that were left in the house we were renting, I found The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.  I’ve seen that book all over, of course, since it’s a business best-seller, but the title had always put me off because of its “too good to be true” title.  But, I brought out to the Adirondack chair on the deck overlooking the lawn and dirt road, and started reading.

 

Another book that I really, really like–reading it was actually the straw that broke the camel’s back to my own freedom from the Golden Handcuffs of corporate life–is Work Less, Make More by Jennifer White.   At the time I read it, I was feeling that working in my job was like being out of sync with my personal values.  It wasn’t a bad job–in fact I’m very grateful for it because there I was able to acquire skills that gave me confidence to break out on my own.  And I loved the people I worked with, I had great benefits, and was highly respected and rewarded in the company.  

So what was the problem?

The treadmill.   The feeling that I had no choice but to put in 70 hour work weeks–either to meet my boss’s expectations, or my own.  We were short-staffed, and I fell into that trap in which I felt that if the work was going to be done right, I was going to have to be the one to do it.

Of course, that was all self-imposed bull.  I had other colleagues who were able to manage others, delegate, and get the work done and still leave their Blackberry at home for a two-week vacation (boy, did that bug me!).  

But I also felt like I was a product of the Peter Principle–I had been promoted to my own level of incompetence.  I loved my job–the JOB part of it, not the management part of it.  I wanted to do what I was truly good at.   When all was said and done, I realized, with some surprise, that I wanted to be the DOER, not the teacher, mentor,  or manager.  

Plus, the money part is not a big reason for my working.  I do not aspire to Prada bags or BMWs.   Money, as my uncle said, is a means of exchange, nothing more.  So why work 70 hours a week chasing it?

So, I took the leap and quit my job.  I DO work less and make more now.  I DO feel fulfilled in my job.   Yet, I still have a lot to learn from Tim Ferriss and Jennifer White, and I am grateful to them.

Here is a compilation of some of their lessons in five points:

  1. CHANGE YOUR THINKING:  Many of us operate on outdated values from the past built on post-Depression-era industry, career-long loyalty to one company, having to give your all, and more, to the company store.  But there are new values today.  Can you innovate?  Can you communicate?  Can you produce results?  These are the things that matter now.  Doesn’t matter whether it takes you 4 hours a week or 40 or 60.
  2. ELIMINATE:  You can have more time for yourself in direct proportion to the stuff you can off-load.  Systems and routine are important.  White says to focus on what you do best, and delegate the rest.  Ferriss says to find virtual assistants online–either in North America or India–to get rid of tedium and any other stuff someone else can do.  You do the rest.   Pay attention to the 80/20 Rule.  Both Ferriss and White invoke the Pareto Principle, which says that 80% of results come from 20% of the causes or tasks.    So, in a nutshell, use this rule to figure out the 20% that’s working for you and delegate or abandon the rest.
  3. BE BOLD:  Just do it.  Quitting your job, or changing the parameters of your existing one, is like deciding to have children.  There’s never a “right” time, so you might as well go for it–especially if you’re not happy!  Why give your happiness over to the status quo if it’s not working for you?
  4. EXAMINE YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO MONEY:  Money is often the culprit that gets us in these traps.   What are you afraid of?   That you won’t be able to get your kids through college?  That you’ll wind up a bag lady?  That you won’t be able to keep up with your friends’ latest status symbols?   The funny thing is, you become what you fear.  Many of those who have pushed through those fears discover they are unfounded–they find that they do what they want to do and wind up with the money for all those things that are important to them.   That is part of the Law of Attraction, and there are many, many books that can give you the courage to overcome that barrier.  Try old masters like Napoleon Hill or Catherine Ponder, or newer Law of Attraction gurus like Wayne Dyer or Rhonda Byrne.
  5. FOLLOW YOUR GUT:  This is my own rule, although White and Ferriss also imply it.  There are books to get us from Point A to Point B and help us to Find Our Bliss, Discover Our Passion, Color Our Parachute.  But sometimes life takes us down roads that we have not mapped out, and, surprise! we wind up at Emerald City. When you are trying to figure out what is going to provide fulfillment, don’t think too hard, don’t analyze too much, and most of all, get your ego out of the way.  If there’s any tinge of pride in your decisions, you taint them.    On the other hand, if you open yourself up to the Universe and vow to honor it with your good works, it will all come back atcha.
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