Some of the best advice my father ever gave me.
Years ago, he and I were sitting and talking. I was stressed, as probably many 20-somethings are, about a number of things. In that particular conversation, I was stressed about money and the cost of supporting a family. My full-time job was okay but not amazing. And I was doing a sort of woe-is-me complaining session about how despite my full-time work, I wasn’t hitting my financial goals.
And that’s what he said to me. “You ain’t tapped out yet, boy.”
I had gotten it in my head that working 40 hours a week at a job somehow meant that I “deserved” to be meeting my financial goals, and that an unfairness had been visited upon me because that wasn’t happening.
This is one of the biggest traps in modern America. “Doing what you’re supposed to,” and then hitting a petulant, indignant wall where you refuse to acknowledge that maybe that isn’t enough. You’re given this specific set of hoops to jump through – get good grades in high school, go to college, get a 40-hour-a-week job – and told that if you do them, everything will work out. And if it doesn’t, you get upset.
My grandfather supported his five kids and stay-at-home wife in a beautiful home in the suburbs by captaining a ferry. That’s awesome, but (pardon the pun) that ship has sailed. That same wife, my grandmother, watched me during the day so my mom could work 70-80 hour weeks at her corporate job and my father could drive a truck over the road, then my exhausted mom would take care of me (and later, my sister) on the weekends while my father worked his second job, a videography business that he ran.
And I was complaining that my 40-hour-a-week gig wasn’t, alone, making me as successful as I wanted to be.
“You ain’t tapped out yet, boy.” There were hours in the week unused. I got a second job immediately, working nights and weekends. I eventually even picked up a third sales gig, and that one proved lucrative enough that I was able to drop the first. Ever since that day I’ve never had fewer than two sources of income at one time. It’s much harder than just clocking in and out at a single 40-hour gig, but it’s also more secure, more lucrative, and more rewarding.
This is tough love at its finest. The world doesn’t exist for just forty hours a week – it’s there all 168. You have to sleep, you have to eat, you have to spend time with your loved ones and you have to pursue what makes you happy, but that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to those things. You are entitled to life, you are entitled to liberty. But you’re only entitled to the pursuit of happiness, not happiness itself. If you’re not happy yet, work harder.
You ain’t tapped out yet.