When was the last time you said “I get to”? What about the last time you said “I have to”? Do you have to do more things than you get to do?

If you’re going to a job you hate, it makes sense to at least say to yourself you get to rather than you have to. Because what it all comes down to is you’re choosing to continue to go to work. No one is forcing you.

You don’t really have to do anything. You don’t even have to eat. Sure you will die, but you still don’t have to. But there are things we choose to do because it’s worth it. Is what you do with most of your time worth it? Eating takes time, but I think it’s worth it. It keeps me alive and I enjoy it.

Can you seriously think of anything that you’re required to do? You may say you have to go to work, but do you? If you don’t go to work, the cashflow will be cut off and then problems may be created, but you still don’t have to. Quitting your job may be an opportunity cost, but you can still choose that option.

It still may be hard to hear that, because quitting your job may mean a mad spouse, seem irresponsible if you have children, create an enormous financial burden, etc., but you are the only one who decides to get up in the morning. You may have been running on auto pilot for so long that you don’t believe it, but you lift both of your legs out of bed in the morning. What you do with the day is up to you.

So if you hate your job, or any activity that you frequent in your life, at least take a moment to understand this responsibility. It’s your choice. You might as well celebrate the fact that you get to do it. Because after all, you don’t have to, you get to.

Of course, if you’re like me, there are many things you do that you don’t necessarily enjoy. That could be an understatement of course, you could absolutely hate them. You’re not insane or unintelligent, you obviously don’t continue to do what you dislike for no reason. Perhaps it’s financially (which it probably is for most people) or there is something else keeping you doing this activity. You probably don’t get joy out of your misery.

But is it worth it? If you find yourself drained, and generally unhappy, something is probably not aligned. Aligned with what? With how you want to be spending your time. We all have the same chunk, each day, and we all choose to spend it differently. Do you want to readjust your chunks, but feel like you can’t?

Out of 168 hours (in one week) if your job is a 45 hour chunk (say 40 hours of work and 5 hours commuting/getting ready if you’re lucky), that’s 26.76% already gone. Then add 6 hours of sleep per night, which is another 25%. Your job and rest are already over half of your time rations, 51.76%. So what now with the other 48.24%?

Well you might set aside 14 for stressing and worrying about how one fourth of your time is alloted to something you don’t enjoy. Another 8.33% gone. Maybe about 10.5 hours eating? Another 7.84% gone. So now you’re at 81.93%, which is just 4.34 hours per day left. What do you do with these 4 hours? Surf the internet? Watch porn? Get drunk? Exercise? Read books? Play with your kids? Regardless, it isn’t much.

Sure, I kind of made up the 14 hours per week stat for stress, but on just a hunch, I feel it isn’t too far of a stretch. If you strongly dislike something you’re naturally going to put more emphasis on that and let if effect you even when you’re not partaking in the activity. Of course this would depend on the severity and frequency, so maybe more or less.

The point of this long rant and probably unnecessary statistics is that you don’t have much time. And you even waste some of the time you do have worrying that you don’t have enough time. What would you do if you did have more time? Just allot more of it to worry about it?

It is an interesting experiment to try and pretend that you get to do something you don’t like. Of course you will be putting on a false front, but it’s almost like your ego or mind or whatever gets kind of freaked out because you’re trying to change the state associated with it. The normal reaction according to history is to hate a certain activity, so when you show up with the thought that you get to do it, as in you’re choosing to do it over anything else, is absurdity.

If you try to think like that, it might work for a while, but then you just fall back into the “this is bullshit” mode. You can pretend, or pump yourself up all you want, but if you really don’t like something in your life, it will eventually find a way to show it to you.

But maybe you’re depressed or unhappy and don’t know why. I talk a lot about jobs in this post because it’s no secret that many people don’t like their careers. It’s an easy target to pick on because it takes up so much time, and so many people find their job so unfulfilling. But what if you aren’t sure how to re-arrange your time rations so you feel more aligned and happy?

Well, one thing I like to do is eliminate something for one week. Even if you say you’re completely clueless, you should probably have some idea of your daily habits that you don’t enjoy. Maybe it isn’t even enjoyment, but when reasoned, you conclude they are a waste of time. Do you turn on your television every day when you get home from work and watch it for hours? What if instead you read books, or painted, or wrote, or exercised, or socialized, etc.

I don’t want to go too much into television because it’s definitely something that could be discussed on its own but pretty much everyone knows that on average, Americans watch a sick lot of tv. I think last I heard it was around 5 hours per day. That’s almost a second full time job. I’m one of the weird ones for not having cable or watching tv, but that is completely fine for me. I still have a lot of organizing to do with my time, but I will never let television’s stock grow.

But back on track, try doing one test per week. By the end of one year, you would have made 52 tests if you’re dedicated. Realistically, maybe 20 or so tests that you learned something from. Try it with random things. Don’t drink pop for one week. Don’t watch tv. Don’t sleep in. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke cigarettes. Don’t use your laptop. Don’t raise your voice. Don’t go to work. Don’t drive your car. Don’t eat chocolate. Don’t take a shower.

If it’s hard for you to think of something to not do, go back a step and make a complete time chart of your average day. Write down everything that you do. This can help, but if you still don’t know what to choose, have someone do it for you or choose something at random. Any action is usually better than inaction.

Once you start adding more “don’ts”, start thinking of other “dos” to fill their place. I don’t want to sput off another list of do’s to go with the don’ts because I feel it would be very hard to keep a bias off of it. It will show what I think are good things to do and what are bad. Use your head, or just Google something random. Search for “wake boarding” or the first thing that comes to your mind, and do something related to it. Then fill your don’t with this do. Hopefully over time you can become more intelligent with your dos.

Sure, maybe after one week you revert to the don’t and nothing really changes, but eventually, you will find (and replace) a misalignment. Back when I worked at a fast food restaurant, my day consisted of – wake up at 3pm, work at 4pm, work until 10pm, come home turn on my television and play Word of Warcraft until 8am, repeat.

I went through a period where I realized that I was wasting way too much time playing WoW and flipping burgers. I didn’t have another job lined up really, but I just quit because it was pointless. From my current perspective it seems incredibly trivial to quit a job making $5.25 per hour with $.15 raises every 6 months. But at the time, I was scared and it was a big decision. My parents and others thought I was making a bad choice. It may have looked that way but it made me feel much better.

Quitting your job really is one of the big decisions you shouldn’t just randomly decide to do. It’s not good advice to give to anyone. But don’t let that stop you from taking a week vacation, and instead of going anywhere, just staying home and do what you would do if you were job free. Or maybe allot more time to searching for things you might enjoy more. Maybe a different job, business idea, or another way to make an income. There are other ways available, and there are people who have done it.

I still do have a job right now, but also have other sources of income that I do actively enjoy, such as poker. I’m also in the process of having an iPhone app created and sold. The point is, just straight up quitting would probably be unintelligent. It might work, and it could turn out, but it might be a better idea to slowly redistribute 3, 5, or 10 hours in your week rather than cutting out 45.

It took longer for me to quit WoW because I enjoyed it more, but I eventually stopped playing all together. My time division still isn’t perfect but I can say that it is better now than it was 5 years ago because of actively searching for misalignments. Not so much trying new things (action is one of my current weak points) but finding problem areas and trying to stop them.

Easier said than done, maybe, but I guess that depends on the degree of the importance. One week is long enough to see what else you could be spending your time with and short enough to not seem like an impossible commitment. This is good if it’s something you feel really attached to, but think you could fill its slice with something better. It’s just one week, and you can learn from it.

We all have 24 hours each day. No one is granted more time. Some people are just better at dividing their time up and have larger “get to” chunks. The others that aren’t so sure, probably have bigger “have to” chunks. Now go do what you have to do instead of what you want to do in the time you don’t have to spend on what you want to do. Then try replacing your have’s with get’s. Maybe you’ll start getting to do more things rather than having to do them.

3 Comments

  • Danny says:

    Carl,

    Very uplifting post and well written. Not just trying to be flattering, that was one of my favorite blog posts I’ve ever read in my entire life.

    At the beginning of a boom I read called Structure of Magic, the authors basically state exactly what you are saying. Paraphrasing, It’s not that the world isn’t rich enough for anyone to be happy regardless of their circumstances, they just don’t see that they have options available. Hell, almost anyone in the world could move to Hawaii right now. Sure, there may be factors encouraging other behavior, but you still can do it.

  • givememyleg says:

    Danny, thanks for the comment, I’m glad you read and enjoyed it! I never heard of that book, but I’m definitely going to check it out.

  • Trimming1 says:

    Well written…Food for thought, I enjoyed your article.Reminded me of some stuff by T.S.Elliot.

Leave a Reply