If you’ve been a reader of MyWifeQuitHerJob.com since the early days, you probably remember that I used to refer to myself as a lazy piece of c$%^.
Now depending on the person, laziness can have different definitions.
To some people, being lazy is sitting around and watching television all day.
To some people, being lazy is staying in bed and not getting up until the afternoon.
To some people, being lazy is wanting to make a change and not doing anything about it.
But to me, laziness is participating in activities that have absolutely zero long term value.
As part of running this blog, complete strangers often ask for me for life changing advice. And I always say…If you want to make positive changes to your life, you have to avoid being lazy. If you are unsatisfied with the status quo, think about how you spend your time, because where you spend it will ultimately determine where you’ll end up.
When I first graduated from college, I fell into this habitual routine where I would come home from work, eat dinner, watch television or play video games, go to bed and then repeat this cycle day in and day out.
But the funny thing is that I didn’t feel stagnant at all. In fact, I was actually pretty darn happy with my life. I had spending cash, a good job, friends and all the video games I could play. I had no responsibilities whatsoever and I loved the fact that I was not obligated to do anything.
In fact, I spent most of my early 20′s playing video games. And I could do it all day and not feel bad about it.
One of my favorite games of all time was called Civilization and I probably spent well over 6 hours a day playing it at my peak(on weekdays). Weekends were a different story. Undisturbed, I could easily sit in front of my computer for 18 hours straight! I was an addict and sometimes I even forgot to eat and drink.
What’s Fun Might Be Holding You Back
But here’s what I’ve learned over the years. Satisfaction from fun and entertainment is fleeting and can ultimately hold you back. And if you stop and think about it, most things that are “entertaining” often have very little long term value.
Looking back at my video game habit, what good did I get out of it? One could say that “Civilization” taught me how to be more strategic and improved my decision making skills:) But let’s be honest, it was one big waste of time.
In fact, if I could do things all over again, I would have loved to reclaim all of those lost hours because playing video games had no beneficial impact on my life. I didn’t learn anything. I didn’t gain any knowledge that would further my career. I didn’t become a better person because of it.
And in reality, it had the opposite effect. I became anti-social. The computer became my best friend. And the meaningless accolades the game presented to me were worthless in real life.
The Long Term Effects Of Time Wasting Habits
We all have our habits and we all tend to gravitate towards leisurely activities. It’s easy to waste time and be lazy. But what would have happened to my life if I continued my all day game playing ways?
I probably wouldn’t have found my wife. I definitely would not have started any of my businesses. And I probably would not have the breadth of knowledge that I have today.
While it’s fun to be entertained, it’s really easy to get stuck in a rut when you routinely participate in activities that don’t have long term benefits, activities where you aren’t learning.
While you might think that a few hours here and a few hours there is not that big of a deal, it all adds up over time. Think about it this way.
A few hours wasted a day for 15 years adds up to well over 10000 hours.
And if you believe in Malcolm Gladwell’s 10000 hour hypothesis, you could have completely mastered a skill during that time!
The thing you need to realize is that even small changes to your lifestyle can have a profound effect on your long term success.
Do you want to look back on your life knowing that you wasted all your time playing meaningless games or watching tv? Or would you rather look back and appreciate all of the knowledge you’ve gained?
Unfortunately, I ask myself this question all the time. What if I spent all of that time reading business books instead? What if I learned a new computer language or studied the stock market ? What if I became interested in real estate investing during the boom? What if I started my own business back when I was younger?
Maybe my life wouldn’t have been as relaxing. Maybe it wouldn’t have been as leisurely. But I would have become a much better educated person sooner rather than later. And who knows? Today, I could have been a billionaire by now.
But as it stands, I wasted a good portion of my time on low benefit and low value activities that added very little to my life. In fact, I feel lucky that I was able to turn things around by making certain changes to my habits.
Making The Most Of My Time
Today, I make a lot better use of my time and I waste much less of it. Don’t get me wrong. I still watch television and I still play an occasional video game, but the difference is that I now set aside some time everyday to learn a new skill or trade.
And if you ask my wife, she’ll probably tell you that I’ve taken this new habit to an extreme. For example, instead of reading fiction or short stories, I pretty much only read business books and technical manuals now.
On my last vacation, I took a book along with me called “JQuery In Action”. Great book by the way if you want to learn more about web development:)
Instead of surfing entertainment and gossip websites, I now focus on ecommerce, business and personal development websites.
These habits are now so ingrained into my routine that I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s now a part of my personality.
I’m also a lot more selective about what I do with my leisure time. My kids and family come first and I spend most of time with them. I also focus a large part of my leisure time strengthening friendships and forming new ones.
For the past decade, I’ve had no regrets and it’s nice to look back to see how much I’ve learned gradually over a long period of time.
Small Changes Can Have A Big Impact
So what’s my point? Leisure time is great, but it needs to be balanced with learning. Very few people are willing to change because they want to be able to see results right away. But unfortunately, life does not work that way.
If you want to change your life, you first have to change your habits. And when it comes to changing your habits, you have to look at things with a multi-year time horizon. Even the smallest change today can have a profound effect on your future many years down the line.
It doesn’t take much. Just set aside a hour every day to expand upon your knowledge and learn something new. For every activity that you participate in, decide whether that activity will benefit you in the long run or whether it’s just a waste of time.
And the sooner you make that small change, the sooner you will reap the rewards.
photo credit: casey.marshall susivinh
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