I used to work seven days a week between two jobs. Work was my whole life. I woke up every morning, went to work, came home afterwards, and drank heavily until I fell asleep. And even though I was making reasonably good money, this was easily the least productive period of my life in terms of personal growth. A workaholic and alcoholic, I was going nowhere in a hurry—my hobbies had fallen by the wayside, my social life had all but disappeared, and I was more stressed and depressed than ever. The reason for this was simple: I was living under the very incorrect assumption that once I punched out and headed home, my work for the day was done. With that in mind, here’s your admonition for today: Don’t ever confuse making money with making progress.
Never forget that the reason we go to work is not to achieve personal growth, but to enable us to take the necessary steps toward it. We need money to feed ourselves, pay rent, put gas in the car, etc. But all of these things are simply the foundation required to build something of our lives. Money itself is a tool, not a result. It’s true that some people earn a living doing what they love, but these people comprise a relatively small percentage of the population. Obviously, that’s a fantastic goal to strive toward, but it’s sure as hell not going to fall into your lap.
The real work is not what you do to put money in the bank. The real work begins when your shift ends and you punch out. Hit the gym on your way home. Learn a new skill. Read books on things you’re interested in; if you can’t think of any topics which you’d like to read about, that’s exactly the problem you need to address. Spend quality time with the people you care about. And if you’re gravely unhappy at your place of employment, don’t resign yourself to it. Spend your free time thinking long and hard about things you’d like to do for work instead. Eliminate the things that aren’t feasible, take what’s left, and start working toward it, however slowly, in your free time.