I had a conversation with a friend the other day, whom we’ll call Jake. He makes a good living working for a marketing company in their account management department. He’s miserable there, but relies on the paycheck to stay afloat financially. He’s fiercely looking for jobs elsewhere, but has both a lack of confidence and a lack of motivation to find/land one.
This wouldn’t be so tragic if I didn’t end it by saying that Jake has been in this situation and very miserable in it for several years. We’re talking about over 10% of his life so far here. To top it off, his attitude both inside and outside of work are getting worse by the month and it’s affecting his entire life.
Unfortunately, Jake is not alone in his situation. I know many people who have gone through this same thing, me included, and even more who are going through it right now. The quick answer on what to do about it is to say, “Work on your resume and send it to more firms”. I say, “Forget that. There’s a better way.”
It’s Time to STOP Relying on a Job You Hate to Keep You Afloat
What we all need to do, starting RIGHT NOW, is to decrease our reliance on any one job (or any single client, if we’re business owners). If we are currently placing all our financial reliance on one employer or one client, we’re being just plain stupid.
Do you really want one company to dictate how you live your life? Did you really mean to set yourself up to be so dependent on your job that if you can’t find another one right away, you’ll be forced to stay in a place you hate for months or (gasp) even years?
Of course you didn’t mean to do that. That sounds like a terrible way to live your life. If a job sucks, you should be able to leave it. If a client is horrible to work with, you should be able walk away from them. So, you’re not there yet? No problem, because starting TODAY, you’re going to change things to enable you to get there.
How to TAKE ACTION and STOP RELYING on a Job You Hate
Let’s talk action steps. Let’s talk specific steps you can take in the next few months to set yourself up to not need to stay in a job that’s ripping your soul apart or with a client that’s not good for your business or your life. Here they are:
- Start looking at money as time, freedom and possibility – We’re taught to see money as a way to buy things. That’s how broke, unhappy and stuck people think about money. If we want independence, we need to view money in a smart way. Money buys us time, it buys us freedom and buys us possibilities. If we want to spend time raising our children, growing a garden, traveling across the country in an RV, taking care of sick family members or volunteering, we need to pay for that and money is the currency. Money buys us the ability to spend our time and our life however we want to.
- Start to despise material possessions – If money buys the ability to spend our time however we want to, then every material thing we buy takes away the ability for us to do just that. If we buy a new designer purse or car stereo for $500 and we make $500 a week from our job, we just paid one week of commuting in rush hour traffic, one week of “looking busy”, one week of 30 minute lunch breaks and one week of negative office politics in order to now possess that material good. If you don’t yet realize that you’re trading your life for those material goods every time you buy them, then NOW is the time to change your mindset. Material goods are the enemy. They take us away from living the life we want, not the other way around.
- Decide what’s more important (money or time) – When it comes to priority, many people prioritize more money as more important than more time. An example is picking up a second job to make more money, but giving up your nights and weekends. Another example is switching jobs to pick up more hours and more pay. Always being willing to trade more of your time for more money is a never-ending rat race. There IS a point at which enough money is enough. At that point, we should prioritize time above all else. Having time is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than having money.
- Start thinking in terms of how much YOU need, not how much others need – If we look at our lives, we will likely see that we don’t need as much money as we think we do. Does it really take $60k per year to live? I think you’ll find that no, it doesn’t. I live on less than $25,000 per year. I bet you can live on much less than you think. So, why do you need more money? What’s it going to get you if you’re just spending everything you make? More headaches is what it will bring you.
- Start discovering your self worth outside of your job title or salary – It seems our world is trained to always ask “where do you work?” or “what do you do?” within two minutes of meeting someone new. We’re proud when we can say we work for General Motors or Target or 3M, and definitely love saying we’re the VP of Sticky Tape Distribution. It’s not surprising that we have begun to base our self worth on our position and the company we work for. That’s old school and not a good way to do things anymore. We aren’t where we work. We are much more than that. We need to start basing our value on who we are, what we care about and what we’re doing to make this world a better place.
- Start looking at housing as an expense – Here’s the thing. We pay for the food we eat and the clothes on our back. Why do we think we can get a roof over our head for free? We can’t so we need to stop thinking that way. A roof over our head is something we need to pay for. Regardless of whether we buy or rent that set of walls and roof, it will cost us money. The question is, how much do you want to pay for it? Living in a small space such as an apartment or condo will decrease that amount we pay for it. Renting or buying a 4+ bedroom house out in the suburbs will cost us more. See how this works? It’s a decision of how much you want to pay. Based on the points made above, I want to pay a modest amount. I don’t want to give up all my money to live in ridiculous luxury and perhaps you don’t either so make a conscious decision of how much you are willing to spend for your walls and roof.
- Start looking at cars only as a way to get from point A to point B safely – In our society, we’re tempted to want to fit in so, like our job titles, we want to look good driving an attractive car. Again, a car is an expense. It’s something to take you from point A to point B and that doesn’t come free. Unfortunately, the price we all pay to get from point A to point B is drastically different, depending on how much approval we require from others. If we already feel good about ourselves and our value in this world, we’ll likely buy a used car in cash. If we don’t feel confident in ourselves and want approval and acceptance from others, we may go buy a brand new or almost-new car. Unfortunately, buying a new car will trap us in many cases as we will immediately start bleeding hundreds of dollars per month from all of our pores. Please buy a used car in cash instead of borrowing for a new car. If you’ve got a newish car dropping in value like a rock, please sell it. You’ll still be as valuable of a person without that flashy ride, trust me.
- Decide to eat better and for less by doing it at home – Eating out is both hard on your health and your wallet. Got a little extra cushion around the middle like I do? Eating out is just going to make that worse. Not enough money in the bank? Eating out may be the culprit. Starting eating in a way that improves your life two fold, both physically and financially. Take the step of committing to eat at home, going out to eat ONLY on VERY SPECIAL occasions. You will make serious progress fast, because this will make a big difference.
- Trade in paid entertainment for free entertainment – Take a look outside today. Is it nice enough to go for a walk or bike ride or have a picnic? This time of year, it probably is. Commit to getting out there more often and taking advantage of timeless inventions that are collecting dust in your garage, like walking shoes, your bicycle, tennis rackets and your backyard grill. This stuff is all free. No, it doesn’t cost $25, like going to a movie does, or to the amusement park, or to the mini-golf course, or to the gym. Trade in all that paid stuff you do for a whole lot more free stuff and see your life improve by it.
- Start treating every expense as a piece of your life (because it is) – Remember, every time you spend money, you are trading a piece of your life for whatever that dollar is buying (because you gave up a piece of your life to get that money in the first place). So from now on, treat every expense as a piece of your life and SPEND EXTREMELY CAREFULLY. Do not trade your money for things that aren’t worth your life, because if you do, you are getting ripped off and no it isn’t anyone’s fault but your own.
- Think multiple income sources – Having a single source of income may have made sense back in our parents’ or grandparents’ generation, but it doesn’t anymore. Employers no longer keep people for 40 years. Pensions are gone. Entire career fields come and go quickly. Technology is changing rapidly. Companies are going bankrupt left and right. Having one source of income just doesn’t make sense. In fact, it’s down right risky. Start building up a second income source, and then a third and so on. According to Robert Kiyosaki in his best selling book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, there are four quadrants where you can earn income from: Employment, Self-Employment, Big Business, Investments. Make it a point to build up additional sources of income from any of these quadrants. More is better than one. That way if one fails, you have others in place as backup.
- Think ownership of what you’re creating – The employee quadrant is the only quadrant where you will never own the work you do. Whether you build a house, create a database or software application, write a book or invent the next tech gadget, you DO NOT own it at the end of the day. You agreed to settle and ONLY ACCEPT money as your payment. I believe that’s a bad idea. Working in any of the other quadrants allows you to own what you create. If you’re self employed, you own what you create. As a big business owner, you own what your employees create. As an investor, you own what you invest in. As an employee, you own nothing. Bad idea. Think ownership.
- Think lower taxes – Again, an employee is the worst position to be in when it comes to taxes. W2 income is the most heavily taxed form of income in the U.S. Ever hear people complaining that the rich don’t pay enough in taxes? How can they get away with that? Because they don’t have jobs. They earn their income in the form of dividends and capital gains. Then, how do they get to take so many vacations and buy such nice things? Because they can write them off as business expenses. Here’s how Robert Kiyosaki says it in Rich Dad Poor Dad: Employees earn.. then they pay taxes on those earnings and then they spend what’s left. Business owners earn, then they spend and FINALLY, they pay taxes on what’s left over. How is this possible? That’s how the tax code is set up. Those of us who choose to ignore it and settle for being employees get stuck with paying all the taxes. Instead of complaining about it, I believe it’s time to wake up, become business owners and start taking advantage of the system already in place that favors business owners.
- Think of work you care about – How productive are you when you work on things you don’t care about? Not very, I bet. How productive are you in a negative office environment? Not very? Well then how much more productive do you think you’d be if you loved your environment and the work you did? Much more! So yes, to maximize your earning potential, find work you care about so you can then give it all you’ve got. It just makes a heck of a lot more sense. Commit to not settling and go out and find what it is you really care about and find a way to make a living doing it.
- Think of how to get started right away – We should all get started right away. Life is too short to be putting things off for months or years. Think of how you can get started on a better career path right now. What can you do to find work you care about? What can you do to meet people who are already in that space? What can you do to get experience in that area? What can you do TODAY to get started?
Regardless of where you’re at today in these areas, remember to start now and get serious. Our lives are passing us by and it’s never worth it to spend years not taking action just because we’re afraid or unprepared. Hit me up if you’d like to chat or brainstorm ways to start making some of this happen in your life.