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Not suited for indoor work

July 16, 2013 9 Comments

imagesCAA020DRAdvancement in modern economic terms generally means more time behind screens, inside offices, or under some type of roofed, climate-controlled structure.

I’m 41 years old and in the second year of my first full time office job. For the first time in my life, I’m paid to spend most of my time at one fixed spot. I advanced myself into this job, and actually made it longer than most of my colleagues in the real world. But, it’s slowly killing me, and I now understand that movie, Office Space, and why it’s so funny for everybody. This morning somebody instructed me for the 5th time about the office calendar even though we have a different, redundant office calendar.

I have 8 bosses.

I now understand why so many educated people are constantly craving financial independence. We crave wealth because this boxed condition is unnatural. Besides our hesitation to be exposed to any adverse element, we are actually supremely adapted to adversity and need it as an enhancement to health.

Too much comfort will kill you.

It seems ironic that the prototypical postcard of financial freedom is a tropical, sandy beach when we’re spending the greater portion of our time creating monetary “value” through cash flows, contracts, rents, subscriptions, interest payments, enhancements, sales, etc. None of these things has anything to do with oceans or beaches, so why is this a path to freedom?

Everything I’ve ever been truly interested in has absolutely no economic value — which makes it not very interesting to me anymore because I’ve got to monetize everything somehow. The trick to this whole game is being fulfilled by things that are not particularly fulfilling in terms of reality. If you can accomplish that, the sky is your limit. My greatest hope for my children today is that they can tolerate boredom early in their lives long enough to reap the heavy duty rewards up front. Then, they’ll be in a position to do whatever they want at an age when it truly matters. It appears to me that everybody’s got to pay their unfulfillment dues, and it usually works out better to get it done right away.

I envy people who enjoy boring things.

If you’re burning to do double entry accounting – you’re all set.

If your idea of a good time is all nighters staring at code, then you will never work another day in your life.

If you don’t mind donning a headlamp and staring up somebody’s ass, I’ve got a job for you (after 12 years of medical school).

Successful people sit down. I’m learning that financially successful people use keyboards a lot. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a single job where the end result of advancement is less time dealing with administrative overhead or less time dealing with communication in general even if you’ve sucessfully automated or outsourced these things. You’ve got to create enough spare capacity to absorb these mundane realities.

I’m learning that successful people stare at screens then make obvious decisions based on the thoughts of typically younger, less successful people. Once the screen staring and typing is done for the day, we like to either talk about it or go home and stare at a completely different screens. Or, sometimes people are successful because they’re skilled at not really making any decison but simply gathering and repackaging information. This can actually be quite lucrative if you’re somewhat entertaining in your repackaging.

We’ll do anything to be entertained.

Advancement means more time on phones, at meetings, and under air conditioning.

I hate air conditioning. It feels like I’m in a meat locker, and I’d rather just find a stream to sit in if I’m too hot. Or, climb to a higher elevation, Or, just sweat.

There is a single culprit in my grumpy dissatisfaction today. It is the only thing I consistently come back to as the path to too much time spent indoors — DEBT. Debt is a great enhancer and magnifier. It’s either going to quadruple your effort or quadruple your acceleration. Using credit buys you a giant sword that hangs above your head that is exactly your height and weight.

You’re holding the string that keeps it hanging.

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About the Author:

My goals in life are to not have a job and to work my ass off. I give your choice of virtual high five, cyber hug, or electronic fist bump for meaningful interaction.

Comments (9)

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  1. I agree with you. I have only been working in corporate for 1 year, but understand why people start their own businesses. Work is exciting rarely. When it is exciting, you have other mundane, boring tasks to take care of. Creativity is stifled because you have to take care of other things (politics, for example). I can see where being your own boss is attractive!

  2. cj says:

    Patrick! Yes, the office, among many other societal structures, is an arrant denial of human nature. Back to education: If we only studied and knew what we were, we’d plan accordingly and reap the benefits of informed decision making.

    Teaching was 100% indoors. Teaching guitar is 100% indoors, but it is less than 1/2 the hours I taught at school. 5 mile walks are outdoors. But I am getting greedy and I crave even more outdoor time despite the Houston sweltering.

    • Patrick says:

      Yeah, I think the greater point is – do you have control over the climate control?

      In other words, I imagine that if you really wanted to on a given day – you could teach guitar outside if that suited you. You have control over that, which is something I haven’t earned yet. Sure, nobody is monitoring me, but it’s not like the old days when I could jump on a boat and leave for 6 hours.

      You also developed a lifestyle that gets you walking rain or shine for 5 miles everyday (loved this part of your book, BTW). That’s awesome.

      You and Tammy are rockstars in my book, CJ.

      Guess I’m just itchy. This is my first ever summer mostly indoors, and it doesn’t feel right.

  3. Tammy R says:

    Wow, Patrick. First of all those last few paragraphs were just amazing thinking and writing.

    I really like your point about having your kids get the mundane out of the way. You really put it into perspective. I’m not sure exactly what you meant, but I’m a teacher. I see many struggling kids and just want to tell them everything I know. Work hard NOW. Read every night -even when you don’t feel like it. Put down the joystick (ok, I’m sure they’re not called that anymore, but I’m 42!). Think about what you really love and do that every day. Ok, no. I didn’t mean to pick up the joystick again! It’s working out for me now, but it took so damn long. I wish I’d written every day of my life!

    We still have a bit of a sword over our heads, but it’s not so giant anymore. Perhaps it’s a bolo knife or even smaller like a Swiss army. Thanks for the writing, Patrick. I always enjoy it.

    • Patrick says:

      Hi Tammy,
      I truly value your thoughts in here – especially from a teacher’s perspective.

      I’m pretty sure the “get the boring stuff out of the way first” came from the grumpier side of me that DIDN’T do this, and is sort of regretting it now. Although I’m not supposed to, I find myself envious of people who had their shit in one sock since high school and struck out do fully engage in the most boring activities I could imagine.

      I was a hot mess at age 21, and have only since learned coping strategies with my constantly wandering mind. I wish it wasn’t like this, but it’s real. I’m sure you know about the “delayed gratification” study performed with kids as a signal of long-term prosperity? You know, the one where they leave a kid alone with something tempting?

      Yeah, no way would I have passed that test. I don’t even know where that comes from. Today’s world favors robotronic people with giant personalities. I just wanted to be in the woods, and there’s only a tiny segment of people who actually make a living doing that. I pieced together a “career” that involved a lot of couch surfing and boxed noodles which is cool for me, but not so cool for wives and kids apparently. Catholic guilt won’t abide by it.

      Thanks again, Tammy for the loyal comments. Now, I’m off to read “escape from man boobs…” NICE headline.

  4. Great post, man. I have to agree, for the most part. I’m in VT right now where everyone works outdoors. My problem is that I need to acquire more outdoor skills! I’ll start with the gardening…

  5. Michelle says:

    My work life bores me. I have worked the job for so long that I find the job too easy to do. Now, I have created a whole other job that’s a lot of work (my blogging) but, engages me and potentially offers more rewards than my current position does. That being said, my debt is the shackle that keeps me from jumping ship. I have to fake enthusiasm (fake it till you make) for my job and start working like a Rock Star again. It’s hard to do because I find myself to be in a sort of limbo/agony when I think about doing this much longer. I am very fortunate to work where I work, HOWEVER, I don’t want to be fortunate I want to be FREE. I’m working on that as we speak.

  6. Michelle says:

    Btw, at least I can go hiking or go to hot yoga during my lunch hour. That helps with the boredom.

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