Taking care of my own busyness

It happened again. I had lunch with an ex-colleague back from that phase in my life when I served my corporate duties and built up the foundation of my finances.

TACOMOB: “How are you?”

CORPORATE WARRIOR (CW): “Busy.”

TACOMOB: “Busy with what?”

CW: “Busy with work, what else?”

TACOMOB: “Why are you not busy with life?

CW: “Actually, I am busy all of the time.”

TACOMOB: “What are you doing outside of work to keep yourself so busy?”

CW: “What do you mean?”

TACOMOB: “Well, for example are you keeping yourself ‘busy’ with taking care of your own business?”

busyness

Get Up and Evolve

CW: “My own business? I don’t have any business of my own.”

TACOMOB: “Yes, you do. Everybody does. It’s just that not many people are consciously aware of it because they are always so busy working for other people. You see – to put it bluntly – being busy is a form of laziness. It is lazy thinking that results in aimless and indiscriminate action. Being busy is most often used as a cover for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.”

CW: “But I have hardly any time for my own business.”

TACOMOB: “Really? Could it be that you use your busyness to stroke your ego? That you work all day and fill your free time with additional activities because you’re ‘important’ and no one else can do what you do?”

CW: “Yeah, well, there is a bit of truth in that. But this busyness, this being in demand gives my life some meaning. It serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness.”

TACOMOB: “Ok, and would you agree that what you choose to work on is far more important than how hard you work?”

CW: “Yes, that makes sense. Often, I just don’t have a choice though.”

TACOMOB: “Whaaat? Are you out of control? We always have a choice in life, we just have to deal with the consequences and make conscious decisions. Those kinds of decisions that are harder and less comfortable but much more rewarding. I made a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since you can always make more money and time is non-renewable.”

CW: “Choose time over money? Hmm, what do you mean by that?”

TACOMOB: “I have gotten myself out of that ‘personal time deficit crisis’. I made the conscious decision to live my life by design and not be default. I choose to use my extra time on Extracurricular Activities like learning stuff outside my comfort zone, sports, spending time with family and friends. Not via gadgets but real face to face interactions. And I chose to take care of my finances – the key to freedom. By the way the latter can – or should is a better word here – take up the least amount of time. I just say ‘Prospect Theory’. But that is a topic for another face to face interaction.”

CW: “So, what you are saying is, we work hard so we can retire and sit on the beach with our kids sometime in the indefinite future when in fact we can do that now when the kids are actually still kids and not grown-ups who do no longer want to sit on the beach with the parents.”

TACOMOB: “Exactly. It’s putting yourself back in control of your working hours to be able to work on your business – whatever that might be – and less in other people’s business.”

CW: “I got it, lack of time is lack of priorities.”

TACOMOB: “Yes, life is too short to be busy.”

 

“Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.” – Brian Andreas

“My only measure of success is how much time you have to kill.” – Nassim Taleb

7 Comments

  1. Andy – what sports are you interested in? Maybe we could do a run together or something.

    • I do a bit of mountain-biking with my eldest son, a bit more of road-cycling with my second son, a bit of volleyball with my daughter, and a tiny bit of badminton with ex-colleagues from work.
      I do hate running though, my knees always ache afterwards. Not my cup of tea.
      What do you do besides running?

      • I mainly run and lift (kettlebells), sometimes with calisthenics thrown into a mix.

        Never had a real joy for interactive sports!

  2. During my work-life; I reserve weekends for family and only on exceptions to meet up with others.

    For lower income group; it is not easy to FIRE in their 40s or 50s unless they choose to stay single. They can’t get away from the basic cost of raising a family with children till their independence even though they can be frugal and investment savvy.

    In real life; there is a limit to up skill and climbing corporate ladder. It is pyramid so naturally fewer and fewer will reach the top; but we have to try it and then no regret for failing.

    • Hi Uncle, very valid points. I do not agree on one point however. Even families with children can build up a nest-egg. It’s about choices, early choices in life and then just time in the markets for letting compounding play out its magic.
      Exactly, because corporations are like pyramids, we have to start early to built our own pyramids in parallel. In that pyramid where we can be on top.
      By the way the post was not implying that taking care of one’s own business is limited to striving for financial freedom. There are many other options for pursuing your “own business”. Not all have to do with money.

  3. Hi Andy,

    It is possible to be CW and MOB? I would think so. So those without FIRE capabilities dun be disheartened.

    Maybe we could still be working at night. But try to leave the weekends meaningful for others?

    Even when we are busy typing away a report at night, just smile and listen attentively ( it is going to be hard ) when your wife and son talks to you.

    I used to think and be very envious of people who are man of leisure or FIRE.

    I realize I have the best of both world and of course the dirt of both world without realizing it

    I got paid doing things I enjoyed (30-40%) it’s a big deal, but see purpose and meaning in doing what I am doing (not I am not indispensable, I am quite replaceable or disposable actually)

    Of course, I am on honeymoon period,like SMoL said, all pumped up. Most probably when I have not enough sleep I will start to whin again.

    But somehow having traveled to the brink of depression and walk back, it just felt real different.

    CW are rats, I believe I am one of them. Btw, cut them some slack ok, think some of them quite miserable.

    Your friend seem very open-minded, I think I will get punch talking to my friend like that LOL

    • Hi SI,

      Thank you for highlighting this point. Maybe my message is a bit ambiguous. With taking care of your business I do not mean FIRE.

      In this information age our most valuable asset is our earning ability. Lifelong learning is compulsory to stay employable. We have to continuously upgrade our skills and replace old skills with new ones. Today nobody can expect lifelong employment, but each one of us can create lifelong employability.

      This requires a mindset change from seeing us as an employee to viewing us as being self-employed. As the president of my ME Pte Ltd. And we are being paid in direct proportion to the value of our services.
      That concept is not an option, it’s mandatory. It’s not just an idea where you have a choice. It’s a fact like the sunshine, the rain or the weather.

      The sooner we accept this concept, the sooner we move to the front in the information age. I am convinced that what we do after work will have the biggest impact on our future.

      Actually it is not a friend (want kind of friends do you have that dare to punch you?). It is an ex-colleague who often lamented about his “job” and who literally asked me to give him new perspectives during our lunches.

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