Years ago, I made a fairly bold declaration as a total newbie poking around the FIRE space. I said I wasn’t leaving my classroom, and I meant it. Now, wonderfully, more and more people are realizing that financial freedom doesn’t have to mean retiring early…or ever.
Even so, there is so much talk about the end of the journey and even of the start. It’s the in between that gets overlooked.
People disparage the idea of traditional work. If you don’t believe me, wait for the next Sunday night to roll around and take a good long look at any type of social media. Traditional work is on blast for all the world to see.
And yet, most of us still perform it in some capacity. Whether it’s long-term or short, the majority of us went to work today.
And that’s something to be proud of.
You don’t have to love your job. You don’t have to be someone who would continue to do your work if money were no object. I might love my current career, but that hasn’t always been the case.
As someone who has now been an employee longer than I haven’t been, I have completed dozens of iterations of work. Minimum wage to commission-based jobs. Part-time to full-time. Regularly scheduled 15-minute breaks to making the most of a 4 minute passing period. Good bosses to bad bosses. Fun colleagues to complete jerks.
I’ve fished nylons that did not belong to me out of an overflowing toilet.
I’ve raced my coworkers to a bank to see who could cash their paycheck before all the others bounced
I’ve also done makeovers in a mall parking lot with Tim Gunn in the blazing heat of 90-degree day while competing with all of my coworkers to make the most transactions without access to a sales register.
I know what it’s like to have a bad day at work. OK, fine. I know what it’s like to have a bad year at work.
It’s true that I know what it’s like to not love your job, and I also know the standard advice and all the variations of it:
- Stay quiet.
- Speak up.
- Work from home.
- Transfer internally.
- Transfer externally.
- Find a new boss.
- Become your own boss.
None of these are magic bullets. They don’t come with guarantees. And sometimes they aren’t even possible. At least not right away.
Whether your entire family counts on you or you only count on yourself, you might have to keep this job. At least for now. You could be the breadwinner, the sole provider. You might need to wait out a contract or rely on the healthcare.
And even if you change your work, that doesn’t change the fact that you still have work to do.
So I want to do something different here. I want to say there’s value in work, your work. Not just when the project is finished, the last grades are entered, or the manager gives the final approval. There’s value in what you’re doing today.
Maybe it’s your forever job, your calling, your life’s work. Or maybe it’s not. Perhaps you’ve cobbled together a series of part-time jobs or you simply snapped up the opportunity because you felt you didn’t have any other choice. You might be someone who is pushing hard for FIRE, with your eye on early retirement. Even if you do plan to leave the workforce, even if you don’t love your job, you deserve credit for doing it.
Whatever job you’re doing today, take pride in the fact that you showed up again. There’s so much value in the journey and so much that goes unsaid about the in-between. That’s where so much of our time is spent and where so much of our lives unfold. Instead of running into another week with your eye on the finish line–be it 35 or 75–, take a moment to appreciate what you’re doing right now. Not because your job is important, but because you are.
So Tell Me…What are you work are you doing today?