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Back when I had a 9 to 5, my co-workers kept trying to see who could work the longest without dropping dead first.
It was the WORST Olympics ever. Bronze comes with a blood clot. Silver—a trip to the E.R. And Gold? A, big, fat tombstone…with you very own name on it.
And everyone participated, no matter how old you were.
My 26-year-old intern: “Oh I’m so swamped, I wore mismatched shoes into my manager’s office today! Too exhausted to think! Look how HARD WORKING I am.”
My 35-year-old project manager: “I have 3 laptop screens open and I’m on 2 conference calls right now. I haven’t taken a vacation in 3 years! Look how HARD WORKING I am.”
My 42-year-old boss: “I haven’t gone home for a month. I can’t remember what my daughter looks like, but hey, at least she has all those nice things I bought her. Look how HARD WORKING I am!”
And when I went back to visit them a year after I retired? They were still working the SAME crazy hours, on the SAME project, firefighting the SAME issues, and getting screamed at by the SAME senior executives. And they did all this while accomplishing nothing.
Why was everyone running around like crazy, but getting nothing done?
They were all Hard Working.
They were putting in the MAXIMUM amount of work for MINIMUM gain.
But what they really needed to be was “Smart Working”.
Smart Working means you put in the MINIMUM amount work for the MAXIMUM gain.
What does this mean?
Smart Working means you put smart systems in place that keeps working even when you aren’t.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying working hard is for suckers. We all have to work hard at some point in our lives, trading time for dollars, especially early on in our careers. And that’s only natural, since at the beginning of our careers we have our brains, we have our skills, but we have no money. So we gotta do what we gotta do.
But working hard for 30-40 years? Now, that IS for suckers. What if you get sick or bed-ridden and never get to enjoy your retirement? What was the point of it all?
And besides, when you work hard:
Your Company Screws You
It’s no secret that companies LOVE it when their employees work hard. More hours at the grindstone mean more revenues for the company which means more profit for the shareholders! But do the employees get to share in the money they helped make? For the most part, no. You ever try to ask for a raise after a big success? It’s always “We’ll see come year-end,” or “It’ll be reflected in your bonus, we promise!” or “You’re a shoo-in the next time someone’s up for a promotion!” And sometimes you do get rewarded as promised, but more often than not something comes up like a recession or a lost customer, or a bad quarter and then it’s “Yeah, sorry, you did good work but conditions just aren’t right for a promotion right now. We’ll see next year.”
When your company wants something, it’s now Now NOW! But when it’s time for your reward, it’s always later, later later. They do this because they know they can. You need the job. And besides, you’re such a hard worker!
The Bank Screws You
Think the banks are doing you a big favour, lending you cheap money to buy a house? Well, here’s the thing. You’re the one who works hard, putting in all those extra hours, and pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into owning your own little slice of the American/Canadian Dream. Well guess what? They’re not doing you a favour.
They’re doing it because if your house goes up, the bank gets their cut. As much as 25% if you’re not careful! But if it goes down? They still get their cut because your loan doesn’t take a haircut even when your home equity does. You do all the hard work, and the bank always wins no matter what! Who’s doing who a favour now?
Your Government Screws You
If I were an alien looking down from ten thousand feet up (and I’m apparently a really boring alien who likes reading over other planet’s tax codes instead of blowing them up), I’d be wondering why the government hates employees so much. Businesses get so many tax breaks from car allowances to entertainment costs to mortgage interest deductions. Investors get so many tax breaks that this year we’re projecting our tax bill to be less than $300 despite making over $50k in dividends and unrealized capital gains. But employees? They get hit with the maximum tax bill and, with a few exceptions that each and every reader should be using to their full capacity, there’s not a whole lot they can do about it.
Working Hard Sucks
There’s a recurring theme here, by the way. In all three cases, the Hard Working Joe is getting taken advantage of because the Company, the Bank, and the Government know they don’t have any other choice. Any rational person would tell these bozos to take their deal and shove it, but they can’t because they need the money.
Working Smart is WAY Better
The key here is that when you don’t have money, it can be used against you. But when you have it, nobody can make you do anything anymore. Money is power. Which is why I get so frustrated when people don’t pay attention to where their money goes, or gives it away to scheming assholes in exchange for shiny rocks or useless leather bags. Why would you do that? You’re giving away your power!
Because when you have enough of it, you can build a portfolio that generates passive income, even when you’re not working. Passive income keeps paying you even when you’re sleeping, sitting on a beach, or jet setting around the world. And sure, it takes years to build this income-generating machine, but once it’s done, it keeps going. Forever and ever, without needing to constantly feed it.
And once you have this, you can work smart. You can choose where to put your hours rather than have them dictated to you by some Manager who’s just worried about looking bad to his superiors. You can devote your time to causes you actually care about rather than whoever pays the bills. And the rest of the day? You can do whatever you like!
Like, say, hiking the Santorini cliffs:
Driving an ATV around and visiting red-sanded beaches.
And watching the sunset from my balcony, over looking the Aegean sea:
The Boomers are always touting the value of Hard Work. But when all you’re doing is Hard Work but accomplishing less than Smart Work, it’s time to make a change.
Stress is not a badge of honour people! It’s a sign that you’re not doing something right.
Stop trading hours for dollars, stop giving all your hardworking money to taxes, and stop being so Hard-Working! Be Smart-Working instead!