“Work Hard! Play Hard!” is Bullshit
10 months ago · 6 minute read
Take your time seriously. It’s your most valuable asset.
I’ve heard a number of phrases that are, in my opinion, total bullshit.
“Work hard, play hard” is one of them. It’s up there with “Go big or go home!”
What does “play hard” mean for most Americans?
For some, it means buying a boat and taking it out to “play” on the weekends. It means having motorcycles or quads, or an RV. For many it means having a massive flat screen television, man-toys and electronics.
For others, playing hard means expensive rounds of golf with expensive golf clubs, or trips to Hawaii or the Bahamas (depending on your coast). It means nice meals out with good wine. It means trips to Napa. It might mean hobbies like scuba diving or flying.
Expensive cars or motorcycles with easy lease payments. Shopping at the mall and coming home with bags of merch, conveniently charged on credit cards. Trips to Vegas to blow money on $20 drinks, bottle service at nightclubs, and $30 cigars.
These are “rewards” for working hard. As the motto goes, “work hard…play hard.” So, this type of person works harder, aspires for pay raises, and then deploys the spoils of their hard work on playing hard.
But, this is a trap. The trap ensnares people into a rat race that actually prevents them from obtaining financial independence.
Do You Want 100% Financial Freedom?
Maybe you don’t want financial independence. If you truly crave financial independence, this is a very important lesson. The mantra “work hard and play hard” is backward.
First, you can’t buy into the play hard myth. You aren’t going to be any happier by playing hard. Whatever playing hard means, it generally costs you in two ways: 1.) it costs money; and 2.) it costs time.
If you want to gain financial freedom, you need to divert your excess cash into a business, and you also need to divert your spare time into making your business work.
So, playing hard has a double impact on your ability to gain financial freedom. It takes your cash, and it takes the time that you will need to get out of the trap of modest American poverty.
Wait. I’m not saying you aren’t supposed to have fun. You do get to have fun. Just not the kind of fun that drives you into debt, or forces you to keep you in a job that you don’t like. Once you have a business making money or a side gig that throws off passive income, you’ll get to have some of those fabulous experiences, and even buy luxury goods. You’ll have fun along the way, and you’ll have even more fun when you have freedom and the money to blow on playing hard.
Second, you can’t buy into the work hard myth. You do not necessarily need to work harder to make money. You need to work smarter.
Actually, a good friend (and podcast episode #4 guest) once tweeted a phrase that became legendary among many of my friends. It goes like this:
“Work smarter, not harder. But still, harder.”
You do have to work hard, whether it’s a side hustle or a business you own, or flipping real estate or even flipping cars. Whatever you do will require time and discipline. But, what people mean when they work hard and play hard is that they work more for the sake of pulling in more money to keep playing hard. This is a vicious cycle.
You certainly must work hard to succeed. But, financial independence is not about how much you work. In fact, the goal is to work less, and eventually to not work at all. To get there, you’ve got to rethink what you do with your time and money. Many people blow both time and money that could be used to empower them to gain freedom, working hard and then rewarding themselves for working hard. Break that cycle. Take control of your time, and your money. Step back and re-deploy both toward a greater goal than work-hard-play-hard; the goal of financial freedom.
In the beginning, you can use your spare time to work on your side gig. Once you have a side gig, then you’ll still need your spare time to work on the launch of your business or on the acquisition of an existing business. You’ll use your time and money to acquire real estate. And you’ll enter the Opt Out Life. And, once you have the Opt Out Life, you’ll have fun.
Mindless Entertainment: Create, Don’t Consume
If you want to get ahead, you shouldn’t have much time to sit and watch TV. Spend your time working on things that will advance your goal of financial independence. Create. Don’t consume. Yes, you can watch some Netflix, and hit a move. But, getting the Opt Out Life may require some of that time you’ve been spending mindlessly binging on entertainment.
For me, giving up some of the things other do has given me more fun. I’ve traded golf, sports, television and hobbies for world travel. My list of amazing experiences is dazzling. And, before I could afford to drop $2,000 tasting wine for a few days in Napa, I had to defer my gratification and use my time and money to focus on achieving financial independence.
How many hours a day do you find yourself scrolling through social media feeds, mindlessly distracted by the inane memes, posts of friends you haven’t seen in 30 years and, well, fake news? It’s an easy trap, and one that will prevent you from getting the Opt Out Life.
Shopping Is Not Recreation
Remember in 2008 when the economy melted down? The Great Recession, as we now call it. I went to the mall a few times in 2008 and 2009. I didn’t go to shop. I’m not a mall shopper. I’m a thrift store shopper.
But, I do pay full retail to see an occasional movie and the movie theater is in the mall. The mall. The fucking parking at the mall was just as insane in 2009 as it was in 2006 when the economy was hot.
The mall was abuzz. People with bags of whatever, walking through the stores and, yes, shopping. Shopping for recreation. Shopping for therapy. Buying things they don’t need, and probably can’t afford, and probably using credit cards to do it.
For many Americans, shopping is recreation. It brings a certain dopamine rush. It puts you on a mission, hunting for that something. It’s a hobby for many. In 2018, that recreation and dopamine rush is more often fulfilled with social media feeds and clicking over to buy something online.
Whatever it is for you, you cannot gain financial independence while you are still hooked on the mall or shopping. Like digital media, shopping robs you of both time and money. You need the full access of both your time and your money if you want to achieve financial freedom.
Hobbies are for Your Grandfather
Your grandfather probably had the same job for 35 years and retired with a gold watch and a pension. He only had to work 40 hours per week. He didn’t have a side business. He didn’t need it. He had hobbies. He golfed, gardened, painted, or did woodwork in his garage on the weekends.
One guy I know was a dentist whose hobby was to craft Lord of the Rings figurines out of silver putty used for fillings. Once you gain financial independence, you can get a hobby. Until then, just don’t.
Your time is now an asset that you must deploy toward your goal of financial freedom. It is too valuable to squander on hobbies. Moreover, most hobbies cost money.
Can your hobby be a side gig? Maybe.
Be careful about making your hobby a side gig. Many people buy things to support a hobby with the fantasy that they’ll make money with it as well. It is possible to turn your woodworking, photography or art into a side gig, but if you spend more than you make, it’s just a hobby.
Act Like Your Time Has Value
Use your time for something to make money. Your time is your biggest asset, even when you are first starting out in business. If you’ve never sold your time, then you may not realize what it’s worth. It’s worth a lot, and it’s yours to spend.
If you want to move toward financial independence, start to view your time as a valuable thing. It has value. It may only be worth $15 per hour, or it may be $400 per hour. Either way, when you SPEND your time you are spending money that you could be pouring into something that will bring a return later.
If you spend 10 hours per week scrolling Instagram, you are spending $150 per week. Take another 10 hours you spend on other activities that you could shift toward your new business, and you are out of pocket $300 per week.
That’s $1,200 a month or over $14,000 per year that you have at your disposal that you are spending for things that will never bring you a return.
Your time is yours alone. You must choose to take responsibility for your time. You must own it.
You must direct that time wisely toward things that will help you toward your ultimate goal of financial freedom. If you take 20 hours per week from playing hard and use that to start a business, that’s $14,000 worth of your time. If your business succeeds, then your investment of $14,000 should yield $140,000 in value.
Take your time seriously, and start using it as the asset that it is.