This morning I woke up in my own bed. Nothing terribly exciting or remarkable there however we’ve just got back from a long weekend away on a boat on the Norfolk Broads. My partner is pregnant and is finding sleeping difficult. That combined with the size of the beds on a boat meant that I spent time sleeping anywhere but in the bed. After a few nights sleeping on the floor of a boat, you come to appreciate the finer things in life – like a mattress and decent pillows!
With Coronavirus hitting, our planned holiday was cancelled and we hastily rebooked something a little closer to home. We wanted to make sure we did get a holiday this year because we realised that neither of us had stopped working since Christmas – it had been seven months without a proper break.
In my younger years I worked a full time job and then took annual leave to go and work in summer schools. This meant that the only proper time that I had off was at Christmas where I was essentially forced to stop working for two weeks because everything was closed.
I loved working, even when not at work I wanted to be. Working gave me a sense of purpose. In my early 20s I went on holiday to Florida. One morning I received a call from work because a system was down. They didn’t know I was away so just called my mobile. It was 8a.m. for them, it was 3a.m. for me! I didn’t mind though, even though I was thousands of miles away, I was still being asked for help and that made me feel good.
One year, after a two week break away I stepped off of the plane at 4a.m. and headed straight to work. I couldn’t wait to get back into the swing of things. A week after our long weekend away, I’m still struggling to get back into ‘work mode’. I still enjoy work, it’s just no longer my favourite thing to do.
Now I’m in my mid-thirties, life has changed and so have my priorities. No longer do I crave the rush of being ‘on call’ at all times, instead I dread checking my e-mails and seeing that there is a problem that I need to solve outside of my working hours. Now my priorities and interests have shifted from work to spending time with my family.
Now I look back, the craving for work and being on call was always there. I used to love watching TV shows or films where the characters were on call. Medical dramas where doctors had a pager and could be summoned at any time of day was exciting. The idea of being deep asleep and then you’re suddenly awoken by your pager because someone’s life is in the balance and only you can help was exhilarating.
That has now changed. The ‘dream’ of owning and responding to every pager bleep has long since been extinguished. Now I crave no bleeps, no calls and an empty inbox.
The desire to be needed is a basic human one but something that is particularly prevalent in entrepreneurs. Not only do we need to feel needed, we also thrive on solving problems. That is after all why we set up our own businesses because we saw flaws in other peoples and knew we could do better.
Perhaps it’s also a young persons mindset. We have boundless energy in our twenties and as we grow older our energy levels dip, other responsibilities take hold and we realise that life is not and should not be all about work. Work shouldn’t even be the main element of our lives, instead it should be more like a hobby, something that we do because we choose to and because we enjoy doing it – not something that ties us to our desks for 40 hours a week because we have to be there.
I have recently been devouring the Mr Money Moustache blog, something that I learned about via the Tropical MBA podcast. MMM (Mr Money Moustache) is an inspiration for me. He used to work in a ‘real job’ but has dedicated his recent years to spending time with his children with work something that he does if he wants to but only once his duties as a dad have been completely fulfilled.
Whilst I am earning a lot more than I ever did in a real job whilst working far fewer hours than ever and have the ability to work from anywhere, I am now in the position where I need to change my business model even further. The next step is to move from business to near complete automation whereby I can either employ staff or use the resources that my existing businesses have given me, to step back and just manage the business with a few hours of my time each week, rather than the current 27 that I spend on it.
30 hours a week is not much compared to what most people work but as my desire for a pager has waned over the years, so has my need to work in general. I don’t want to be woken up at 3a.m. with an urgent call but equally, I don’t want a 3p.m. call either. The trick is how to get there so that my business runs on (almost) full autopilot.