I have no doubt that saving money and building assets over the last 2+ years has made work a “smoother” part of my life. In general I don’t view it as a life sentence anymore – I’ve learned (and personally observed) that becoming at least competent at personal finance opens a lot of doors.
Doing things like reducing debt and building savings reduces the stress of having my livelihood depend upon a job (where the circumstances, expectations, functions, etc. could all change at a moment’s notice) as well as the letdown of knowing how a good portion of the next 40 years of your life is going to play out.
Something interesting has been happening lately.
For the last two years my commute to work has been 15 minutes of me thinking about money: How much I have, how much I can save next payday, how it sucks that I’m up at 4 AM and it’s 15 degrees outside but at the end of the month when my Net Worth goes up and I get closer to my goal it makes it mostly worth it.
I’m also coming up on the mark of being in the same job with the same employer for almost 7 years. Needless to say a lot of the “mystery and unknown” has disappeared. I usually know before I get there whether it’s going to be a good day or a bad day. It’s a little boring (yet still stressful, high paced, and draining). So my mind wanders more through out the day.
And I’m usually thinking about all these things I want to do. Not like “when I get home I’m gonna eat this and watch that!”, but “I want to start this project and write this blog post and finally read that book!” All the stuff I want to do is “productive”, at least in my mind. I want to create stuff.
I’m sure this comes from repetition. But I think something else is happening too. I wrote a post a while ago called Making vs. Earning, about how very few jobs involved actually producing physical objects. Even most service jobs don’t give you the satisfaction of seeing finished products – because even though they’re finished, they’re going to be undone very soon. If you work as a carpenter, a chair you build is going to last years. The work of a hairstylist, while still producing the feeling of creating something, is much more temporary. They’re going to wash it, it’s going to grow, and in a few days you might not even be able to tell they got a haircut!
So a select few are getting the satisfaction from actually creating, a few more at least get to see the results of their work before it is undone, and the rest don’t ever see actual results from their toiling aside from deposits into their bank accounts.
I’m in the middle group – my work is pretty physical, and I see physical progress as I work. But it’s temporary. And the combination of knowing it won’t last AND knowing I’m going to do the same thing tomorrow (and on and on and on) gives me this intense desire to make something permanent.
The conclusion I’ve come to is that I have to think about my job as creating something permanent – this lifestyle that I’ve cultivated in my mind. That’s what I’m building. It helps me stay focused and view things like progressing in a career and becoming more efficient at my job as actually “creating” something, even if what I’m creating is just for me.