Reframe Work And Be Free

Most people hate work, and end up avoiding it. Reframe work and free yourself from daily drudgery.

Why We Hate Work

To most people, work is something they do to get paid. So long as the checks are coming in, the less work the better. People go out of their way to avoid work: rationalizing, faking sick, minimizing any duty to make an effort.

Given the choice, many would choose not to work. And when it’s doing something you hate, that’s a rational option.

Work is seen as unwanted effort to get a wanted result. It’s no surprise many people lack the motivation to apply themselves in the workplace.

What Is Work?

Work isn’t just a job. Cleaning the gutter is work. Going to the gym is work. Filing your taxes is work. Realistically, people hate all of these things.

“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights.”

– Ronnie Coleman

Looking at work as effort expenditure keeps us from achieving things. People believe willpower is limited, when it isn’t. When you look at work as labor, you’re spending resources. Your limited willpower, and limited reserves of effort, are used up when you work. This mental model leads to exhaustion, saps your motivation, and incentivizes you to avoid work. The mind and body love comfort.

We’re looking at work wrong. How can we do better?

Work Is Investment, Not Spending

Think of work as investing time, not spending effort. This simple heuristic will reframe your approach to time and effort, rewiring your mind memetics.

Let’s take a typical American week. Joe Public will work a 9 to 5, no more, no less. Once home, he will cease to do anything productive. Consumption is prioritized over creation. Joe will binge on entertainment, and drink all weekend. He’ll only start working again at 9 A.M. on Monday.

Look at that sequence from the perspective of how most people look at work. Work is spending effort. All that effort in the workplace means Joe doesn’t have much left when he gets home. Why would he want to keep working? Once he’s home, there’s nothing left that he has to do. Leisure becomes the priority – minimizing any additional effort beyond what has to be done. From this perspective, we need to ‘recharge our batteries’. Leisure and comfort are the reward for expending effort at work.

Now look at Joe’s week considering work as time investment. Joe only works – only invests his time – for the 40 hours a week he’s at his job. While he’s there, someone else gets more return from his investment than he does. When he gets home, he stops working – and so stops investing. Instead, he spends time – getting no return at all. Given the option, Joe would choose not to invest at all – only to spend.

Reframe Work And Be Free

Is work a drag? Do you struggle to get yourself to the office? Are you out of energy when you get home? Does adding more work seem like something lunatics do?

You’re looking at it wrong. Reframe work and you set yourself free.

Think of work as time investment; you’ll draw the following conclusions:

  • Time is the only limited resource. It is best to invest it – working – and reap the rewards in the future. Spending is good now and then, but keep spending with no investment and you’ll end up in debt. Most of us are in debt already.
  • The best investments provide the biggest returns. Why waste resources on empty entertainment? Working – investing – leads to growth.
  • Letting others get more returns from your investment is a bad idea. Working for others is giving them a bigger slice of the returns than you get yourself – else you wouldn’t be employed. A job is an opportunity for investment with a fixed rate of return. It’s better than nothing, but the best returns are to be found elsewhere.

Investing time doesn’t necessarily pay back in units of time. It can pay back in wealth, knowledge, health, happiness, fulfilment – but it pays back. The bare minimum return is experience.

Think like this, and you’ll be looking for work anywhere you can get it. Spending time will start to seem wasteful. And you’ll quickly start to see that some investments pay better than others.

It shouldn’t be hard to get motivated. Make it easier by subscribing for email updates and following me on Twitter, where I also post daily.

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