102 – Own Your Weekend

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OWN YOUR WEEKEND…

::::WARNING:::: THIS TURNED INTO KIND OF A RANT…just an FYI

It’s Friday, and everyone is preparing for the weekend.  I have some pretty big plans for this weekend myself and I am looking forward to it.

I love weekends personally.  Not because I don’t have to go to work…I actually don’t mind working, I often do a lot of podcast work on the weekends because I enjoy it.

I like weekends because that is when most of the other people I know are not working.  Thats my opportunity to interact with family members and friends.  Thats when all the family birthday parties and anniversaries are.  The weekend is usually when most people get married.  Most of the big things that happen in peoples lives, happen on the weekend because that is when “most” people are off work.

Notice I said “most” people.  There are many, many people in our society that have to work on weekends…and I personally, think that is kind of tragic.

Some of these jobs I totally understand…like police officers, hospital workers, ambulance drivers and firemen.  We actually need these people to work on the weekends.  But that is something that is well known and understood…those people knew that, and accepted it before they even started the process of getting these jobs, and I respect them for willingly making that sacrifice.

More and more though, through the course of my own working life I have seen other companies gradually increase the number of people that are working on the weekends, or graveyard shift.  People don’t even seem to notice it.  It’s like when you have a frog in a pot of water and the water is cooking on the stove…the temperature increases gradually so the frog doesn’t even notice, and then he is dead.

But if you just drop a frog in hot water he will try to get out.  No…I don’t do a lot of frog cooking, but this frog thing is a common and accurate metaphor for what we are talking about.

So now we have all these people working on the weekends.  Oh it’s handy for the consumer…because we can go almost anywhere and conduct commerce, we can purchase the goods and services we need, we can spend our money and it’s very convenient.  But do we ever stop to consider what the cost of this convenience is?

We have developed a culture here in America that is all about money.  Or more succinctly, about greed.  I used to be a part of that system, I worked for a few different places in my life where working on the weekend was mandatory.  Now its become almost expected that wherever you work you will wind up working on the weekends.

I worked for one huge box store that has most of the people on a rotating schedule, which means that you got one weekend off a month, then you would have Monday-Tuesday off, then Wednesday-Thursday, etc.  Sometimes you would have split days off which is even worse…like Tuesday – Friday or something. 

A lot of you listening are probably just used to this stuff and you don’t even know why I’m talking about it.  Well, here is my problem.  If you are working for that big box store I just mentioned it’s almost impossible to plan your life, because the schedule only goes out three weeks…after that they can do whatever they want. 

In my opinion, based on my observations, my theory is that these huge corporations don’t want you to plan your life.  If you plan your life then you might actually develop relationships or activities that are more important than making money for the corporation and they can’t have that.  They have designed it so the workplace itself becomes your primary social platform, thats where all of your relationships are, your entire world revolves around whatever it is they are selling.  The company break room is like your living room.  Brilliant…but also diabolical in my opinion.

When I was still working for this company I made a suggestion.   Why don’t we bid for schedules?  Some people don’t mind working weekends, everyone could bid for a set schedule and have the same days off every week…if you at least knew what your days off were then people could actually plan their lives and everyone would be happier.

What I was told was that the reason it is set up this way is because they are trying to be completely fair across the board.  What?  Fair?  Is it fair to punish everyone?  I guess if everyone is equally miserable and disconnected with life then that is fair.

I know fathers who miss all their kids ballgames and dance recitals because of work.  I’ve known people who cannot practice their religion because of work, even though we are guaranteed freedom of religion in our constitution…they know if they push it they will lose their job. 

It’s all about money guys.  Not your money, but the money these corporations rake in thanks to you.

As I’ve said many times, the most important things we possess are our relationships, and it is our relationships that are the primary victims of corporate greed.

Look, I’ve got nothing against money, or the pursuit of money, we need money to live and eat and everything else.  But there has to be a balance, there has to be some point at which money or the pursuit of money is not our number one priority.

A lot of people are confused about what work ethic means too.  I had a friend who worked at this company for 15 years, he still works there.  To him, work ethic means literally selling your soul for the company.  He has worked 6 days a week for 15 years.  He often works late without getting paid, I have personally witnessed him getting used and abused by the boss and he just takes it.  His marriage ended because of the hours he worked and he doesn’t have time to start new relationships.

When I asked him why he puts up with it, he told me that is his work ethic.  To me it sounds more like a slave ethic, it is a mentality of slavery. The advice I gave him shook him up a little, it made him think.  He still works there but at least he is thinking about it.  I told him to imagine lying on his deathbed, at the end of life.  What will all this sacrifice have amounted to?  How will he be remembered by his kids and grandkids…as the guy who was never home?  I told him to think hard about the regret he may have to endure and to ask himself if it all worth it.

Please know that I’m not criticizing you.  If you are one of the people caught in this hamster wheel I’m not blaming you, I’m blaming the system.  I was caught in the same hamster wheel myself.  As a single dad I was working stupid hours and for a couple years there my kids were raising themselves…that’s horrible!  I was not being the best dad I could be even though at the time I thought I was doing the right thing.  But, those are hours and days and weeks with my kids that I’ll never get back.

So in case you haven’t noticed, I’m on kind of a rant here, I don’t do this very often.  But I don’t believe in just complaining about problems without also offering a solution.  So…what’s the solution to all this craziness?

Speaking for myself, when I recognized that by life was effectively being stolen by employers, I got a little pissed off.  So I started working for myself.  To date I have probably spent more time self employed than I have working for other people.   But the other thing I did was just refuse to work jobs that didn’t work with the lifestyle I wanted for my family.  I insisted on designing my own life instead of letting corporations design it for me.

You might be thinking I was in some privileged position that allowed me to do that…but I would argue that I was not.  Instead of going to college I served 5 years in the Army.  I have been a blue collar guy my whole life.  When I got out of the Army I had zero marketable skills, I also had three kids that I had to feed.

The needs of my family were immediate, so I went to work, and I worked really hard.  It took me a few years to gain the capacity to start thinking outside the box.  When you are on that hamster wheel, its hard to see anything else sometimes.

It really starts with a paradigm shift that gets you thinking about your life in a different way.  It’s my life!  It isn’t anyone else’.  Therefore if my life sucks it must be my fault, and since complaining accomplishes nothing I had to start getting creative and figure out how to do things different.  I had to take responsibility for my own situation.  I think that is the solution.

It’s easier said than done, for sure.  But eventually I was working at this corporate big box store and I was one of the only people that had weekends off, why?  because I negotiated it that way.  I effectively communicated my requirements and what I would provide in return.  Fortunately the guy hiring me wasn’t an idiot and he was able to work with me.

Look, I know you have to eat, you have to pay rent.  I’m not suggesting you go in Monday and take a dump on the boss’ desk.  You have to survive. 

What I am suggesting is that you start realizing that your life is your fault.  That you start right now developing a plan, write it down.  Start thinking outside the box, doing research and figuring out what kind of value you can bring to the world…because whatever that value is, is your answer.  When you figure out what kind of unique value you can provide to other people, then those people will give you money for it.  Thats how it works.

Some of you will not get it.  Some of you are content with the way things are and you don’t want to change anything and that’s fine, that’s great in fact because the world needs people like you as well. 

But for those of you that get what I’m saying…start now.  Start now by taking charge of your life.  I think taking charge of your life and being responsible for it is one of the most beautiful expressions of manhood there is.  You should also seek out other people that are thinking the same way, surround yourself with people who are also designing their own life.

Well thats it for today guys.  I will conclude my rant right there for now, thanks for listening.  I had to get this off my chest.  I will appreciate any feedback you have about todays show, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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