How to Come to Terms With Working For the Rest of Your Life

John Hawkins, 

This is a question every man has to answer,

How did you come to terms with working full-time for the rest of your life?

I graduated from college this past May and just started my full-time job three weeks ago. I am a salaried employee with a required minimum of 50 working hours per week.

I’m grateful to have a job, but how the hell did you accept the fact that you’ve essentially been born to work? I see very few routes outside of working what feels like endless hours until I’m 60 (optimistic!) and can retire… to just sit around all day because I’m too old to do much of anything else

My friend, 60 is VERY optimistic if you just got out of college because the chances Social Security will be around in its current form by then is basically nil. That means most people that age are likely to work until they die.

All that said, there are a lot of options for what you can do on the working front. In fact, it gets back to my all-time favorite quote.

“There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.” — Thomas Sowell

The best jobs require a lot of hours. You want to be a CEO, run a successful small business, or be a doctor, you are going to put in some serious hours to do that. You want the big house, the money, the prestige, you are going to have to work for it. You want to live somewhere expensive like NYC or San Francisco, then you should be prepared to work like a dog to make it happen.

If you are willing to forego that and make some lifestyle trade-offs, you may be surprised at what you can do.

For example, if you are outside of the big cities, you can live pretty well working 40 hours a week. Over time, especially if you get married to a woman that works, you can get yourself a house and have a vacation a year, a big-screen TV, and generally live comfortably. If you’re frugal, you can even save up some money doing that. Unfortunately, most people in that position aren’t frugal and they struggle when they get an unexpected bill, but that doesn’t have to be you.

You can take it even further if you like. Back in the day, I once had a roommate who has a fantastic salesman. He worked half the year selling and took the other half of the year off. If you want to live with roommates and keep it cheap, you may be able to squeak by working part-time. If you want to live out in the boonies with a little garden out back and some convenient land nearby for hunting and fishing, you may not have to work forty hours per week to do it.

What all this means is that you have real options in life. It just depends on which trade-off you want to make and guess what? The one with the most hours probably isn’t the best for everyone. There are guys who wake up one day in their forties with lots of money, but bad health and no one that cares about them because they have been working 70 hours a week from the time they were young until now. Are they better off than the guy who worked 20 hours a week his whole life, but took care of himself, had friends, and had a happier life? That’s a question you have to ask yourself.

It begins by asking what motivates you, what you want to have in your life and how much of your life you are willing to trade to make that happen.

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