Work is a Subset of Life, Not The Other Way Around

This article was one of my MicroSoft Small Business Forum pieces. 

I don’t know why most entrepreneurs choose the path of self-employment. I can fathom some guesses: the potential for great wealth, the attractiveness of a flexible schedule, a distaste for authority, a thirst for risk, or the inability to direct one’s career in a satisfying manner within the constraints of the employer-employee relationship.

For me, the transition was compelled by a single realization: that one of my nightmares in life is to look forward to the end of the day. You know what I’m talking about; we’ve all done it. At some point in our working lives, we’ve been in an office, factory or store praying for 5:00 or whenever our shift is over, trying to will the clock to move faster. Or we count the minutes, hours and days till the weekend and mourn the passing of Sunday into Monday. The term “hump day” for Wednesday is particularly troubling, as it implies that the progress of the week is a thing of laborious unpleasantness that must be endured, rather than celebrated.

That is my nightmare, to experience the totality of my working life within that paradigm.

Our lives are short. As we age, time seems to go by even faster. In a couple of decades, I fear days will flit by like minutes. Time is the one resource in our personal ontogenies that is truly unrenewable; so it is a grave sin indeed to waste it wantonly. It seems to me, then, that to wish our days to pass quickly is nothing less than a tragedy.

Hence my attempts to create a work experience that prevents me from wishing the day to end, that instead causes me to relish each working minute –or, at the very least, to not cause me to dread those minutes.

Last week, I decided to travel to New York for a number of reasons, both personal and professional. On the way to Manhattan, I stopped by a relative’s mountaintop upstate home to take in the fresh air and to watch the deer frolick on the front lawn. I had a conference call with a client in Kenya, which I took via voice-over-internet on my laptop, while sitting barefoot on the grass; and spent the rest of the time doing statistical analyses interspersed with long walks to the reservoir, accompanied by flocks of wild turkey and the occasional flash of an orange fox in my periphery.

That was a WORK day. I got the work done and simultaneously enjoyed every living moment of that day.

See, that’s why I chose this path: to make work a subset of life, and not the other way around.