Business is a heck of a lot more than numbers and data. Sometimes, I like to take some time to branch off into theoretical or philosophical topics. This is one of those times.
As an entrepreneur, I spend a lot of time reading books on human nature and psychology. As I’m sure you’re aware, when you can get inside of people’s heads, you are more likely to achieve success in getting them to do what you want. For us, that usually means making sales.
However, another thing I’ve learned and began to notice in my day to day life is how people change and adapt to their situation. This can be both a blessing and a curse.
In my financial independence / early retirement course, I talk a bit about something called lifestyle creep. The most common example of lifestyle creep occurs when you suddenly start making more money. If you were making 30k a year and you suddenly got a job paying you 75k a year, most people would begin spending more money and taking on more liabilities to accommodate their increase in pay. Suddenly, despite making more than twice their previous salary, it will still feel like they aren’t making enough money to live comfortably off of.
This same sort of effect happens in other aspects of our life too. For me, it happened when my entrepreneurial ventures began to take off.
It was only a few years ago where I decided to pursue entrepreneurship full time. I had only worked a few normal jobs before then, and let me tell you, I hated them. Entrepreneurship is a lot more work (especially early on) but it comes with a lot of benefits. One of those being significantly more freedom.
Suddenly I was experiencing a much happier and more enjoyable life. What could be wrong with that, right? Well, I have found that I no longer appreciate it as much as I should. Entrepreneurship – and the freedom that comes with it, is my new normal. Going back and working a regular job would be like being wealthy your entire life, and suddenly being forced to live in poverty.
OK, perhaps it’s not that drastic, but the point is that if some aspect of your life is consistently good, you tend not to notice or appreciate it as much until you also experience the bad.
A New Job
Note: This post was originally published in 2015 – wanted to clear that up for regular readers as my life looks quite different now, and the below story is a little outdated!
I have not experienced the bad in a while, so I decided to force myself to. Yes, I deliberately got a full-time job just for the sake of experiencing something I didn’t like doing.
This wouldn’t make much sense to most people. I pursue entrepreneurship full time. I run a business that is successful enough to provide all the money I need. I probably will not ever need a ‘real job’ again.
But you know, when you do something so against the cultural norm, you sort of get out of touch with the people around you. I can’t relate to my girlfriend who gets up at 7 AM to go to work. I can’t relate to my cousin who claims she can’t afford to eat anything but ramen. I don’t know what’s it like to be forced to do something you don’t want to do for 8 hours a day.
I had to do this not only so I knew what I was missing, but so I’d be inclined to work harder on my business as to avoid that situation forever.
What is the job you may ask? I wanted something completely different than the work I was doing now, so nothing involving writing, business, or working in an office.
No, I decided to get a blue-collar job painting buildings and doing house maintenance.
It’s actually not as bad as it sounds, but it’s not my cup of tea. That’s the point of this, though. I am supposed to dislike the job.
Here’s What I’m Getting At
You may be going through rough times right now. If you’re not, you will be eventually. There will be times when life just doesn’t seem to be working out, where things aren’t going the way you’d like them to, and you’re just genuinely unhappy. That’s OK, it happens to all of us.
It’s human nature to spend more time focusing on the bad than the good. The truth is, people are far more likely to put effort into avoiding pain than they are towards receiving pleasure. Therefore, we tend not to appreciate or acknowledge the good times we’re going through while we are experiencing them.
Acknowledging The Good Times
Despite temporarily having a 40-hour work week on top of my entrepreneurial stuff, I am also forcing myself to spend time off and enjoy the weekends. Normally I’d work even longer on Saturday and Sunday, but for the duration of this experiment, I am taking them off and trying to forget about my business completely.
For the first time in a long time, I spent the weekend enjoying my free time with family rather than focusing on work. Instead of focusing on sending emails, I focused on having fun. Instead of worrying about deadlines, I instead worried about being happy.
It was pretty great.
The Taking Point
I intentionally put myself through both the extreme good and the extreme bad for the exact same reason – for inspiration.
Participating in these activities truly made me realize how fortunate I am to be in the position I am in, and remind me that I need to continue working hard to stay there.
Working a traditional job inspired me to work harder so I can avoid going back.
Enjoying life inspired me to work harder so I can have the freedom to retire at a young age.
If you and your business are going through an unusually good or bad period right now, I want you to acknowledge it. When your situation changes, I want you to remember the situation you’re in now and use it as inspiration to align yourself with your goals.