Why Your Job Conditions You To Take Things For Granted

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Last Friday, an engineer in the office complex where I work brutally gunned down the CEO, VP of Operations, and the Head of Human Resources of his company before fleeing the premises. This engineer, named Jing Wu, had recently gotten laid off from his job and decided to take revenge on the executives who were responsible.

Because this tragic triple homicide literally happened within 50 feet of my office, I’ve been thinking a lot these past few days about all of the things that I’ve been taking for granted. I’ve also been trying to place myself in the same situation as Jing Wu to figure out his frame of mind.

What possessed him to follow through with such a heinous act? What caused him to become so desperate to think that losing his job meant the end of his life?

Photo By B Hernandez

While I’ll never know the entire story behind his actions, I strongly believe his salary and his day job caused him to take many things for granted and he basically snapped when those things were taken away from him.

How Can A Salary Possibly Cause You To Take Things For Granted?

Anytime you receive something on a regular basis, you will take that something for granted over time. I remember my first job out of college when I truly felt elated each and every time I received a paycheck.

In fact, I used to save all of my paystubs and I remember proudly displaying my first paycheck on my desk at home. I also remember that it didn’t take very long for these feelings to fade. Only after about 2 months into my first job, I stopped thinking about getting paid altogether and just expected money to show up in my bank account every two weeks.

Taking Money For Granted

Getting paid on a regular basis changed my mindset. Let’s see, I’m guaranteed to receive money every two weeks, so that means I can spend this much every month. If I overspend a little bit, it doesn’t matter because I’ll just catch up the following month.

I can afford this $50,000 car because I can easily handle the $500 monthly payment even though I have no money saved.

With my day job, I also realized over time that it didn’t really matter how hard I worked as long as I got my stuff done on schedule. The paychecks would show up in my bank account as long as I still had a job.

There was very little upside to busting my butt and very little downside to relaxing a little bit as well. Over time, all of these realizations took me down the path of monetary complacency.

Taking Health Care For Granted

Did you know that your employer spends hundreds of dollars every month to provide you with health insurance? If you don’t actually sit down and think about it, you’ll never realize how crucial this benefit is to both you and your family.

For me, I didn’t start appreciating my health benefits until several months ago when I had to call an ambulance to rescue myself from severe dehydration caused by a stomach illness.

The ambulance trip alone cost $1500 dollars for just a 5 mile trek and the hospital bill was several thousand dollars as well. Luckily, I only had to pay 100 dollars out of pocket because of the health insurance provided by my employer.

When you get a salaried job, all of these health benefits are magically granted to you on your very first day. Until you need to use them and they are abruptly taken away, it’s extremely easy to discount its value. I never thought that I would need to get rushed to the hospital ever, but it happened.

Taking Things For Granted Leads To Desperation

Jing Wu became complacent with his job and his lifestyle. After doing some research, I found out that he lived in a fairly expensive part of town. His house was probably worth over 1.2 million dollars and he without a doubt carried a very high mortgage.

I’m not positive, but I believe that he was the sole bread earner for his family as well.

Because he took his steady paychecks for granted, he completely lost it when all of it was suddenly taken away. How was he going to cover the expenses and the mortgage? How was he going to provide for his family?

In this troubled economy, do you really want to be dependent on a single income in which you have no control over? Are you spending in anticipation of your next paycheck?

Appreciating Money

It wasn’t until my wife and I started our own business did we begin to appreciate money again. With a business, there is absolutely no guarantee that you will make any money at all in any given month.

While this sounds scary, it will naturally condition you to spend less and be more careful when you actually do spend money.

Imagine if you weren’t sure whether you were going to make any money at all the following month. Would you still buy that car or make that frivolous purchase? If anything, you would probably make sure that you had the money already in your bank account before making any purchases at all.

The temptation to overextend yourself financially would be substantially reduced.

Appreciating Your Health

If you and your family are all healthy, there’s already much to be thankful for. But even if things are all good at the moment, you can never be sure when you’ll need medical care. That is why it is crucial to have an emergency fund or alternative forms of income in case you lose your job or your health benefits.

Health care costs in the US are ridiculously high and you can easily go bankrupt with a single hospital visit if you are caught off guard..

Appreciating Your Family

At some point, we all take our loved ones for granted so every now and then it’s important to take a step back and reflect on what is most valuable in your life. After marriage and the birth of my daughter, I’ve come to realize that my family is the single most important aspect of my life.

My family is the main reason why I’m working so hard to generate multiple income streams and to ensure that we don’t fall into the same trap as Jing Wu.

Starting our online business was only the beginning. I hope to find many more ways to generate wealth and I encourage everyone else to do the same.

Further Reading

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12 thoughts on “Why Your Job Conditions You To Take Things For Granted”

  1. Daniel Richard says:

    I’d end December with exactly zero (or negative sum) especially after my service to the nation. This alone had already got me thinking if I had taken things for granted.

    Well now, every single cent, time, and people I know counts and should be appreciated. Can’t take anything for granted at all.

  2. Carla says:

    I heard about the shooting (live in the Bay Area also) and have been trying to figure out what was going through is mind at this time. According to police, he was fired for poor performance (not laid off) and he asked for a meeting with the top executives in the company and they agreed. I guess this is all besides the point now.

    The same thing happened a year or so ago in the East Bay where a man who owned a salon went out of business and killed his family and himself.

    Having been laid off four times in eleven years, I find it hard to take my salary for granted. I’m constantly in fear of losing my job, especially these past few months. Health insurance is my biggest fear since I have to rely on an employer to give it to me. Outside of group insurance, I am not insurable and I’m not even thirty. I have been in deep debt in the past due to medical bills and don’t want to go down that road again. My fiancée is self employed and only gives himself catastrophic coverage since he was booted off his plan last year.

    This is all why I need another way to earn a living or at least supplement my day job.

  3. Trevor says:

    This is something I reflect on often.

    Things just come to me, I don’t even have to work to get them. It’s definitely not going to be like this in the future.

  4. Steve says:

    @Daniel – I think you’re doing fine. I can already tell by your personality and your blog that you’ll be successful if you aren’t already.

    @Carla – I knew by mentioning health insurance that I’d be getting a comment from you:) Being laid off can’t be a pleasant experience and if I were laid off, I would no longer take my job for granted either. I certainly hope that your store does well. I looked through your list of products and the stretch mark cream looks interesting. I’ll forward that to my pregnant friends.

    @Trevor – You’ve got plenty of time. If things are coming to you now, clearly you are doing something right. THere’s no reason to think that it will stop.

  5. Carla says:

    @Steve – that is so sweet of you! Thank you so much.

  6. Ross says:

    Wow, that’s sad….

    Must be tough having it happen so close to you also.

    I like how you mention about taking things for granted in life – it’s often not until these things are taken away that we truly realise how valuable they are to us. It’s great to have reminders from time to time about what’s important.

    Have a great week


  7. Steve says:

    Hi Ross,

    Thanks for the kind words. The concepts of this article are very similar to some of the topics you talk about on your blog. Personally, I think you cover them better than I do. Have a great weekend.

  8. Capt. Jean-Luc Pikachu says:

    Mark Ames has a book on this subject called “Going Postal”. Everyone in middle management or anyone in charge of an HR department needs to read it.

  9. Jeremy Day says:

    Hi Steve,

    I finally have had the chance to go through some of your older posts. Might I say that I really love how insightful this post is. And how tragic. Yet, that’s how most Americans and most of modern industrialized society live their lives.

    Steve, your writing is very inspiring. Way to be an example! I wish you continued success!


  10. Cee says:

    I think that’s so very true.

    When I first started working out of college, I made about $35K a year. I swear I thought I was a millionaire! (This particular company did not offer benefits though immediately – you had to be there 6 months before receiving health benefits)

    As the years went by, I made more and more. Luckily, I was smart enough to start an emergency fund.

    I got laid off about 2 months ago, and while it was a bummer to have all those automatic benefits of health insurance and paychecks, I welcomed the time off with open arms. I had a huge nest egg for emergencies in addition to my severance pay so I know I’ll be fine for awhile.

    I also really didn’t like my job. I’m SO glad I’m not there anymore because my peers who are – are all working longer hours, having more responsibility, more frustration, more stress, etc etc.

  11. Financial Samurai says:

    What a great reflection and reminder not to take anything for granted. Thanks for the highlights!

    I’m in the Bay Area as well.

  12. Jeremy P says:

    Very interesting stuff, I’m in a very stable industry but after 10+ years I’m not getting any job satisfaction. The stay at home prospect looks appealing but I think I would miss the social aspect of going into an office.

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