Personal Development

If Your Goal Is to Not Work Hard in Life, You’re Doing It Wrong

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Portrait of a young confident smiling indian man with his arms crossed looking into the distance

This is the first of a series of articles outlining the principles taught from one of the greatest financial books of all time The Richest Man in Babylon.

“Who wants to work hard?” commented Zabado. “Those plowers are wise fellows. They’re not breaking their backs. Just letting on as if they be.”

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“Thou can’t get ahead by shirking,” Megiddo protested. “If thou plow a hectare, that’s a good day’s work and any master knows it. But when thou plow only a half, that’s shirking. I don’t shirk. I like to work and I like to do good work, for work is the best friend I’ve ever known. It has brought me all the good things I’ve had, my farm and cows and crops, everything.”

Secret to Wealth

As mentioned, this excerpt form the 1926 foundational book, The Richest Man in Babylon. It outlines one of the greatest secrets to wealth building: work.

Far too often, I hear the younger generation, who see contemporaries becoming millionaires through YouTube channels and online presences, state, “I don’t want to slave away my life working for someone else. I’m going to do my own thing.”

What they mean by “their own thing” is having their own YouTube channel or making their own brand on Instagram—becoming an influencer so people will pay them. While it is definitely possible for people to get millions of followers on their social media platforms and to get paid thousands of dollars by sponsors or ad companies, what many people (of both the younger and older generations) don’t understand is the amount of work that goes into being successful in general.

People crossing the busy intersection between traffic on 3rd Avenue and 10th Street in Manhattan in New York City with the glow of sun light in the background

Get Rich Easily

So many people want to get rich quick. There is nothing wrong with getting rich quick; it is definitely possible. But what MJ DeMarco highlights in his book The Millionaire Fastlane is that when people say “get rich quick,” what they usually mean is “get rich easily.” That is what I see happening with young people (35 on down) today.

I see them in the forums ask questions like, “I don’t have any money or good credit, but I've heard people can make passive money in real estate. What can I do to start making $5,000 to $10,000 a month in passive income?"

What they are really trying to find out is, “What is the easiest way for me to make a lot of money doing the least amount of work possible?”

How sad! How sad is it that there are so many people with this mindset. How to get the most with the least amount of effort is the wrong question to ask. And often when someone gives them a chance to start learning and they find out that it takes hard work, they say, “Wait a second. I think I should be getting paid more to do this work.”

Shortly thereafter, they quit and speak poorly of their last employer.

I feel sad for people who just can’t wait to quit their job—even if it is to go into real estate investing. For me, it’s sad when people dread going to work or have a bad attitude about the work they do or the company they work for.

Rise up, snowflake generation. Become men and women who have learned how to work, and work hard. Become those who, like Megiddo from the tale above, don’t try to make life easy by shirking but rather embrace work as they would a good friend.

Related: BiggerPockets Money Podcast 79—Financial Freedom Through Decades of Hard Work and Hustle with Carol Scott

Love to Work

Learn to love work. Learn to look forward to work. Regardless of the type of work (as long as it doesn’t go against your morals or ethics), commit to doing a great job and getting the very most out of the experience. Allow work to teach you, to mold you, to train you, to discipline you.

I am obviously not encouraging workaholism, which is a pattern of using work in order to cope with life and avoid dealing with unpleasant emotions. Rather, I am talking about getting up in the morning knowing that you’re going to work and looking forward to the opportunity. Look forward to the fact that you have to work, to produce, to serve, to create, or whatever it is that you do as an employee.

man with blue geans and sneaker shoes in stair

Related: 5 Ways Financially Successful People Think Differently

Adjust Your Mindset

Now, once you’ve accepted and embraced work, you are now ready to be more strategic and more efficient. Don’t do so in order to make things easier; do so to make the outcome greater. Once you have shifted from trying to shirk the work and you have started seeing work as a best friend—a friend that helps you attain the good things in life, like the ability to provide for your family, to have a roof overhead, and to put food on the table—then you are better prepared to see and take opportunities that arise. This is because you are not afraid of the work that it takes to convert opportunities into successful ventures.

But what if you hate your job? What if you despise what you do, or whom you work with, or the idea that you are working hard to make someone else rich? What do you do then?

You stop it.

Not the job. But you stop the way you see your job. In a BiggerPockets Business Podcast, one of the guests was asked what her worst job was. As she answered, I started to think to myself, “What has my worst job been?”

Then I thought, I have never had a worst job. I have never had a job where I didn’t learn or grow and become a better person. I have never had a job that didn’t teach me, in one way or another, through good examples or bad, what kind of person I wanted to become or what kind of life I wanted to live. I have taken the experience from every job I have had and used that experience to increase my skillset or further my position in the workforce.

I am at a place now in life where I own my own business (actually a handful of businesses), and I have many nice things that I get to enjoy with my family. I wake up early (around 5 a.m.) each morning, excited for the day and the many new experiences and opportunities that will present themselves. And as I sit back and consider how I’ve achieved a lot of the success that I have had, I attribute a lot of it and much of where I am in life currently to my attitude toward work. I attribute a lot of it to the great principle of making work a best friend.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article—or that it angered you, either one. It is the first of a series of articles focused on the sound, tried, and true principles from The Richest Man in Babylon. 

Do you dislike your current job? What are you doing to change that? 

Share below to hold yourself accountable!

Shiloh Lundahl, LCSW, is a child and family therapist based out of Mesa, Arizona. When he is not providing therapy or teaching parenting classes he enjoys being with his wife and 5 kids in Burbank,...
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    Carli Cummins Investor from Fayetteville, North Carolina
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Love it! It is a privilege to work.
    Wenda Kennedy JD from Nikiski, Alaska
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I totally agree on several fronts. I like to work. I'll do any job that needs to be done. I'll do any job that I'd hire someone else to do. The condition of my rentals is a reflection on me. I take that fact very personally. And, I'm very conservative with my money and my assets. I'm the tortoise in this race. I try to tell the young people around me about how to be successful. Some listen, but most think that they are going to find that "get rich fast and easy" formula. I talk about a 20-year plan, and their eyes glaze over. I talk about the steep learning curve and advise them to take baby steps. They argue that they want to jump into real estate feet first for that big win. I talk about that they should pay down their mortgage balance to gain some breathing room, and they counter with calculations on how they can borrow money from their equity to leverage a bigger building. I shake my head and think about RE crashes like 1980, 1990 and 2008. I tell them to start with sweat equity and trading labor with like-minded young investors in their market. They want to hire a whole crew of workers and borrow the money to pay them. I try to tell them about my 43 years of experience in real estate. They counter that they can now do it better and faster because they have the magic formula. That's when they start telling me about all the stuff I'm doing wrong and how they would do it better. I listen to them. Maybe they know something that I don't. In time, I wish them well and go back to my program. But, it's ironic. I've picked up some really good real estate deals when these know-it-all kids went bust.
    Erika Franklin
    Replied about 1 year ago
    People don't always quit jobs, they quit managers. Managers, leaders, they can make or break a workplace.
    Adrian Ayub
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I feel so blessed to be able to always wake up fascinated by new things to tackle and never having a dull moment whereas a large percentage of individuals my age work a mundane or stressful job just to be able to forget about it on the weekend.
    Enix Villamizar New to Real Estate from Ridgewood, Queens - NY
    Replied about 1 year ago
    That was a wonderful post. Thank you very much for sharing it. I look forward to read some more.
    Patrece Glenn
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Thanks, Your Story Will Help The Strong.
    Sarah Kartsher Accountant from Grove City, OH
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I totally agree! I never want to stop working and stop learning.