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When “Work” Isn’t Work…

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I've mentioned before, I'm a huge fan of the NFL's New England Patriots. (Stick with me a bit non-football fans.) At least one day of the week, you will find me my "Do Your Job" shirt. Quite honestly, I consider the team to be the best run organization in the United States... and possibly the world.

That may sound like exaggeration, but I submit this Tweet as strong evidence:

As you can see the Patriots were 9.5 underdogs (Las Vegas thinks they are going to lose badly) only 6 times this millennium... and they responded to this extremely rare situation by winning 5 of them. Last night's win was the latest example of them performing the feat.

After the game, I read an interesting article on ESPN between Coach Bill Belichick and an unknown, future star named Julian Edelman. Edelman relayed this story:

I remember my second year, I was doing a cold tub at like 12 o’clock at night, at the facility, just happy to be on the team. Coach was there on the treadmill watching film, and we just so happen to walk out at the same time.

So I ask him, ‘Coach, it’s pretty unbelievable you do this all the time.’ And he goes, ‘It beats being a plumber.’

“Nothing wrong with plumbers or anything, but you know, it’s unbelievable.

I can recall Belichick being quoted saying a similar thing at least a half dozen times.

When you read my About page, I have four points for why I picked the "Lazy" adjective. The biggest reason is my slogan, "Making my money work, so I don't have to." (Shhh: I'm redesigning my site with this as my tagline like it was years ago.)

However, one thing that I've overlooked is that there are different degrees of "work."

For Bill Belichick, plumbing is a very bad kind of work. Personally, I'd go with heavy construction as one of the worst. On the other side of the spectrum, Peter Gibbons trades his office job for construction and he seems to love it.

The canonical example of a bad job is working at a fast food restaurant. Just like no one ever says, "I want to be a junkie when I grow up", no one ever says, "I want to be a fry cook." (Exception: this awesome story)

Sometimes, I can understand the appeal of being a fast food restaurant worker. I wouldn't want to do it long term, but I can appreciate working rotely for some time. I often joke with my wife that I wash the dishes 7 times a day not because I like a clean sink, but because I like to give my brain a rest.

This meandering word-soup has brought me to two conclusions:

  1. We may be able to agree that there are different levels of "work." We might even generally agree that some work is more unsavory than others. However, there are also some outlier exceptions for some people.
  2. Money is the great equalizer when it comes to work. If you have enough money, you can quit anything that you consider "unsavory work" and do that thing you love within reason. (I had to add that last part because "Patriots coach" is already taken... and I'd be terrible at it.)

I'm starting to see the difference between "early retirement" and "financial freedom." The first can be thought of as "not working." The second can be thought of as "having the ability to choose your work (or not.)"

Posted on September 12, 2016.

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2 Responses to “When “Work” Isn’t Work…”

  1. freebird says:

    I think what you mean is when work isn’t ‘painful’. Anything that adds value to someone is work, the trick is finding something you enjoy doing that adds enough value to support your family. Unfortunately many (most?) people can’t find it so they settle for something painful to some degree to earn enough income– and they indulge their escapist fantasy by visiting early retirement websites. One hint may be those Sunday evening blues…

    For me reaching financial independence allowed me to negotiate a rearrangement of my work situation to follow my preferences. Gone are those tasks I never enjoyed but had previously put up with as a ‘cost of doing business’. Now I work remotely from a resort like location on my own schedule, consulting on those exasperating puzzles that my employer finds difficult but that I enjoy doing (especially under time pressure) because I’m good at it. My employer wins too because I don’t care about raises or promotions, unlike those young guns who need the big bumps just to keep up with their annual rent rises in silicon valley. So ironically financial independence actually is delaying my retirement rather than accelerating it.

    True ‘Patriots coach’ is already taken but it seems to me that empire’s already been built. Why not create something equivalent (maybe smaller but just as world-class) of your own? Don’t use ‘within reason’ as an excuse to settle for less!

    • Lazy Man says:

      That would have been a better title freebird. My titles aren’t the best. Also, I suspect I lost my audience in 44 states with the beginning of the article.

      I dream of creating something as world-class someday. Like most people, I’m finding myself pulled in about 18 different directions. A 2 and a 3 year old will do that. Maybe I’ll work on a world-class family first :-).

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