Deep down you must have felt it too.
That gnawing sense of irk when confronted with the quote: ‘work hard, play hard’.
Unconsciously you knew something’s fishy.
And you’re right.
Apart from the quote being contradictory – working hard often comes down to having no free time – it’s a mantra that may be hurting you.
I mean hurting you existentially. Damaging you to the core of your being.
1. You are trading your life for money
“So what?” You may ponder. “Money is what makes the world go round!”
Well here’s the thing..
For many of us the reason we’re working hard is to buy things we don’t need. What’s worse, these things make you unhappy.
Unhappy? You might say.
Yes. Because you can never get enough of what you don’t need. So, frustrated and hastily, you keep on racing the rat race.
While deep down you know this isn’t the way. That it’s not an intrinsically rewarding path.
” The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is on the contrary born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life” . – Eric Hoffer
Not only are you foolishly chasing the dragon, you are selling your soul to the consumerist devil.
From childhood you have been sucked into a dream-stealing, soul-sucking scheme.
“Go to school, get job, save money, live frugally, invest wisely in stocks and whatnot, and one day, when you’re about 65 years old, you can retire wealthy and start enjoying life.”
You are partaking in a scheme not designed for your wellbeing at all. In fact it’s a system that uses you at your expense. You are the battery in the Matrix.
“The price we pay for money is paid in liberty”. – Robert Louis Stevenson
“Money often costs too much”. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau
“Don’t work hard, you die at the end, didn’t anyone tell ya?” – Doug Stanhope
Ask yourself: what do I really need?
2. Most jobs are useless anyway
Just think about it, our modern culture with its excessive consumerism has led to a proliferation of pointless jobs. Chances are you are working such a bullshit job too. Just to get by. Not realizing that meaningless work is the worst kind of torture as it kills your soul.
In “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs“, LSE anthropology Professor and activist David Graeber maintains that much modern employment is pretty much pointless. Working these jobs takes a toll on everyone’s mentality.
During the 20th century the number of workers employed as domestic servants in farming and industry has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers” tripled, growing “from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.”
” They talk of the dignity of work. Bosh. True work is the necessity of poor humanity’s earthly condition. The dignity is in leisure. Besides, 99 hundredths of all the work done in the world is either foolish and unnecessary, or harmful and wicked.
What people needed was not work: they needed values. To recite poetry, to contemplate quietly, on the maintop – work was good if it made these things possible, and bad if it blinded one to them, or made them impossible”. – Herman Melville.
We need useful, meaningful jobs
“We got sidetracked and diverted into these boxes that are called companies or corporations, stuck in these containers they call cubicles or offices,” “So instead of investing your time in a passion, you’ve sold your life to work for an uncaring machine that doesn’t understand you. That’s the problem with our society. And what’s the reward? Go home and get a big TV.” – Joe Rogan
Image subway: activists plastered the tube with extracts of David Graeber’s ‘On the Phenomena of Bullshit Jobs’ (photo by @alexiscalvas).
3. Work is not that important
Chances are you have lost your sense of perspective, by letting work take over your life. No one on their deathbed says they should have worked more during their life. The top 2 regrets are:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I didn’t work so hard.
“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles”. – Doug Larson.
Of course, once you’ve been lured into the debt trap (or the financial ties trap for that matter) work is important to you. You have no choice. You gotta work to keep paying for the car, the house, the clothes, the fancy parties, and so on.
“The money you have gives you freedom, the money you pursue enslaves you”. – Jean Jaques Rousseau
Contrary to the idiom, hard work can kill you.
What really counts in life are friends, family, experiences, hobbies, relaxation, rest, health and love.
4. You don’t have to work hard
If you choose to, of course that’s fine. But when you feel that you “should”, which is an accepted moral in modern day society,
because you’re supposed to, you’re not free. But even you are financially free, it’s hard to choose leisure over doing ‘something useful’.
You may not even want to be able to buy the latest shiny gadgets or need to keep up with the Joneses because you don’t give a rats ass about that but you may still feel the pressure to achieve. What worsens the matter is that we aren’t used to spending our free time in a joyous way.
Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save. – Will Rogers
Nonetheless, it’s essential to always remember that this is your life, and it’s up to you to decide how to live it.
I say waste your time. Time enjoyed wasting was not wasted at all. In our free time we do what we truly want to do, we discover what we, as humans, are really about.
We need more demotivational posters.
Cultivated leisure is the aim of man. – Oscar Wilde
To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual. – Oscar Wilde
You may first have to make sure to unshackle by cutting financial ties and becoming debt-free. That’ll make things more pleasant.
5. Why not retire now (and work later)?
Or do like the Irish used to do..
The mantra of a fellow traveler from Brooklyn really stuck with me. When sipping our breakfast mimosa on the porch of our Ocean Beach hostel, some passersby frowned when he stated his life motto: “retire now, work later”.
Thinking about it it dawned to me that his bold, alcohol-colored statement actually makes perfectly sense. Or at least it’s less insane than merging into a corporation, working your life away until you’re old, stiff, sick and tired, or dead even. The so called ‘wealth in a wheelchair’ concept has nothing to do with common sense.
It’s like the George Carlin quote,
“The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first; get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home.
You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating …and you finish off as an orgasm.”
This book can help you retire early.
“This is simply one of the best books I have ever read. It is a life changer. The book has more than paid for itself. As a society, we tend to spend hundreds or thousands to make ourselves feel better (e.g., shopping sprees, “experience” vacations, expensive hobbies with lots of gadgets and gear) all the while returning back to a steady state of “getting by” after a few weeks. Instead, why not find a better steady state.”
Research shows that shorter work days result in better quality of work. Working less also makes happier and healthier.
Disclaimer: I, ocassionally, work hard too. But at least it’s for myself. And it’s because I want to. I really like what I do. I get to make my own hours, work on things that interest me and messages I think need to get out. I can work from anywhere, take days off or even months vacation whenever I want. Some days I will sleep out or stay up till deep in the night, and I am accountable to no one but myself .
Want this lifstyle too?
Here’s how to take the first steps into breaking free from corporate slavery: