Financial Wisdom, Office Escape Routes

Untying Your Work from Your Income

Awhile back I had an enlightening conversation with a good friend who was looking or a second job. She works at a coffee shop and is one of the may who earns an hourly wage, putting in anywhere from 30 to 35 hours per week in exchange for $10 an hour or so. Even though she lives with her parents and extended family, she isn’t earning enough to make ends meet, owing much of her financial imprisonment to student loans, credit card debt and other bills. Blame the economy.

Amazingly, she had managed to begin saving a small amount each month for the last couple of months, and was thinking of taking a cruise somewhere warm with her boyfriend. She was concerned that she would have to inform any potential future employer that she’d be unavailable for that specific week in March or April. She asked me what I would say to a potential future employer about her possible inability to work a certain week in the future should she be hired.

What was this, grade school? At first I was a bit incredulous, but then I thought about it.

Why shouldn’t she be allowed to take a vacation? If only she could just put in a bit of extra work beforehand, she’d might have enough money to offset the costs…

But then it hit me: she’s been working in a food-service/hospitality environment. She isn’t thinking in terms of working in blocks of time and then taking vacation time. She’s used to getting paid by the hour and following a schedule (which she admittedly detests!) Her income is directly tied to her work. And many of us are living the same nightmare. How do we escape?

It takes just 3 steps to begin.

Step 1: Untying is Undenying

We have it in our heads that we have to work to earn an income. It’s been hammered into us since before we left home. “Get a job,” is the rally cry of the world, it seems. So we go to school and work hard so that we can increase our salaries. To a lot of us, this is the best we can hope for. But, there is a much better way.

First we must stop denying that it is possible for us to make a good living without slaving away for 40 years. There are many people out there who have invested wisely, who have started a successful business, or have found a way to make enough money to not have to work – and they have done it without giving up their entire lives!

But the pursuit of money is a mistake. You are not pursuing money. You are pursuing a life that is your creation. A life where you can do what you love, and give back to the world. The need to earn an income often gets in the way of this very thing.

How many times have you heard someone say, “Oh, I’d love to voluteer” or “I wish I could spend my time writing or painting” but “I don’t have the money!”

It isn’t fair. Separate your need to earn money from your work. Untie your hands, solve your income problem (because that is what it is) and start anew.

Step 2: Think in terms of Value

If you are going to be creating income for yourself that does not involve you trading your time and life away, you need to know the 3 ways to do this first:

  • Start a business
  • Invest Wisely
  • Create a Product/Service

The truth is, all three are really tied together. But you can’t just walk blindly into one, or all three of these things without some knowledge first. One of the most important things you will be attempting to do is to provide something for someone else. You need to provide value.

If you go to a farmer’s market, and the entire place is filled with people selling oranges, I doubt you will do well by putting up another orange stand. But imagine what might happen if you take some strawberries to the market instead! (Never mind the horrible analogy… I don’t know any orange-themed farmer’s markets either!)

Simple concept, but simply essential to follow. It’s been said a million times. Look for a need and provide this need, or value. This is how to create customers.

Step 3: Frontload

Remember how I was telling you that you would need to set up a business, investment, or create a product? It’s a lot of work to become successful. And you’ll need to put in a lot of time up front. In fact, you’ll probably start out working far longer hours than your fellow 9-to-5ers (who may think you are crazy, at least visibly) but in the end, if you are successful, your time will drop from 80 hours a week, to 50, to 20… to zero.

And your 9-to-5ers will remain working for 40-45 hours a week until they are old and grey, while you have separated your work from your income. Now you can do whatever you would like…

Step 4: **Surprise!** Do Something Meaningful With Your Life

Anyone can just sit around all day, or buy some fancy cars with a lot of money. But if you do this, you are doing the world a disservice.

Now is the time to do something with your time and freedom. Write. Create. Volunteer. Teach. Do what you always wanted to do – but please, please do not just go off to some island and sit around, or do nothing but live a lavish lifestyle.

You have worked hard and earned the greatest professional gift in the world: the ability to fully give of yourself to others.


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