Embracing the Grind

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Yesterday afternoon, after months of studying, I sat for my state of Illinois/national real estate broker test. I signed-up to take the 140 question multiple choice assessment at a rather inconspicuous H&R Block location in the Chicago suburbs. The good news: I passed the test and am all squared away to meet with my sponsoring managing broker on Monday morning.

The most remarkable aspect of my testing experience, believe it or not, had nothing to do with the test. As I waited in the lobby to check in and be wanded by the test proctor (yes, apparently that is a thing now), I struck up a conversation with a friendly young woman waiting to take a nursing exam.

In only a matter of five minutes, she shared that she was a newer mother and was taking her assessment in an effort to advance her career options. Surprisingly, she didn’t appear to be weary in any sense of the word. In fact, I sensed an uncommon aura of determination and resolve in her voice. Any lingering doubts I may have had about this young woman’s resolve were wiped away when she shared that she had literally stepped in human feces while in the parking lot, of course requiring her to clean off her sandal in the rest room.

In that moment, a thought occurred to me: $HIT HAPPENS; how you respond is everything.

I’ll never know with certainty whether this young mother passed her test, as I completed my assessment before anyone else did, but I believe I know the answer.

While most people in her situation would have been exhausted, irritated, or downright angry, this woman took everything in stride with a healthy balance of optimism and stoicism. Clearly, she was prepared to fight through any and all adverse circumstances in order to achieve her goals.

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In contrast, the average person gives up far too easily. We are conditioned by our culture to seek and accept the path of least resistance. Furthermore, we whine and complain that life is so difficult and trying even in the absence of real difficulty, discomfort, or strife.

I am guilty of it from time to time, and chances are, you are, too.

Embracing the Grind

HOW TO STOP MAKING EXCUSES AND EMBRACE THE GRIND

­If you want to overcome adversity and achieve success, begin by changing your attitude. Stop whining and take action to get ahead. Envision what you want your circumstances to look like and figure out how you will make that vision a reality. This will require V-SMART Goals, a plan to achieve the goals, and accountability. Ask a friend to call you out every time look to give up and let adversity beat you down.

There are 24 hours in one day and 168 hours in one week. This gives you plenty of time get to work to change your circumstances. Time is the great equalizer.  It is an asset everyone possesses equally. However, for a variety of reasons, a quick look at the average person’s life reveals a troubling trend of laziness and wasted time (click the table for an enlarged view).

2015 Time Use Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights from the above table and overall study from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • The average person spent 2.78 hours per day watching television
  • For persons who engaged in watching television (nearly 80 percent of those surveyed), that average was higher at 3.48 hours per day
  • Only 43.9 percent of those surveyed participated in work and work-related activities on a per day basis
  • According to Table 11, the average male spent only .26 and .31 hours per day reading on weekdays and weekends/holiday, respectively; for women, those figures weren’t much better, at .37 and .38 hours, respectively.

Volumes could be written about the above study, but even a cursory glance at the statistics reveals that Americans value their leisure time. To be clear, I am not criticizing leisurely pursuits. I have many hobbies myself and enjoy pursuing them as a means of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Over time, however, it seems that a cultural shift has occurred. Mindless leisure time, such as watching television, has become a replacement for the grind-it-out mentality adopted and embraced by previous generations.

My grandfather’s habits and work ethic provide a stark contrast to today’s average person. While other retirees spent mornings on the golf course and afternoons poolside and sipping an Arnold Palmer, Grandpa worked to keep himself busy, sharp, and boost his income. In his youth, Grandpa built his first home from the ground up; in retirement, he used these skills to build and rehabilitate small and mid-size utility trailers and sell them for large profit. It was not uncommon for Grandpa to unexpectedly come home with a newly-purchased, dilapidated trailer, even when he had two or three other projects in progress. He could not bear the thought of time gone to waste. Grandpa was focused on constant maximization. He embraced the grind!

In order to strike a reasonable balance between grinding out work and enjoying leisure pursuits, I recommend asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is most important to me?
  • What do I value most?
  • What is the purpose of my work?
  • What is the purpose of leisure activities in my life?
  • And my person favorite question – What is it time for now?

With any luck, these questions and the subsequent answers will help you to be a bit more like my new nurse friend. Keep persevering in the face of adversity, care for yourself, and learn to embrace the grind.


How do you balance time spent on work and leisure pursuits? What motivates you to keep grinding on?

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10 thoughts on “Embracing the Grind

  1. Hero, this is a great post and an excellent reminder that time is an incredibly valuable resource…that we often waste without second thought.

    I like your question: “What is it time for now?” It’s tempting to get overly analytical with planning leisure pursuits sometimes. This question sounds like a good way to keep things fresh and serendipitous. Off now for a leisurely walk with family in the mountains…!

    Congrats on passing the RE exam, and much luck on Monday.

  2. Love that story! She sounds like she is on an excellent path. All about the mindset – isn’t it? I was just on a forum over at MMM in a discussion with someone on basically this topic. At FI – when you go back to taking part-time work, it is really easy to lose focus on leisure time and put all your efforts back into your job – which is only supposed to be part-time! What is it time for now is a great question – and one to keep in the forefront of your thinking. As much as I have downshifted, I think I need a schedule to keep my leisure activities (and exercise, etc.) in my routine. Very easy for work to creep back in and take over priorities. Keeping the purpose in mind is key! Great post!

  3. Great post! For me, dealing with the grind is managed simply by remembering what I’m grinding for: my family. I can totally relate to the young mom in your story. We’ve got families to take care of and nothing, not even a pile of human feces, will stop you from doing what needs to be done to provide a better life.

  4. At the moment when combining commuting, further education, work and the blog I don’t have much leisure time at the moment. But that’s okay, I’m working towards several awesome things that will hopefully pay off in time 🙂

    Time is the the best asset we have and what we should value the most (and not give away cheaply).

    Tristan

  5. I get some leisure at work, because my full-time job does not require my full brain. I use the the forty hours to listen to podcasts. Some are news, some are on topics I want to learn about, and some are just fun (I love The Read). I no longer read the news on my computer since I am hearing it elsewhere. This gives me time to read PF blogs and end my night with some time reading a book to calm my brain. I’m also grateful to have a public transportation commute that allows me to read or play a quick game on my phone. Excellent decompression time so I can focus my after work time on building up my business and skill-developing.

  6. Congrats on passing your exam!

    For me, staying focused on the grind becomes so much easier once I start seeing results. It’s just like dieting and trying to lose weight- it’s easy to fall off the horse early, but once you see your hard work start to pay off, it becomes easier to endure the grind (and if you’re anything like me, you might actually start ENJOYING it. yikes.)

    Great post! Enjoying your blog

  7. I love this post and my favorite line is: Sh!t happens; How you respond is everything.

    That is so true! I try to keep this mentality at all times. There are times when things feel like they are too much to handle but that is only natural. For the most part – you shouldn’t dwell on every negative thing that happens and give up. You have to move on.

    Congrats on passing your test by the way! I dealt with the same thing when I just took my test. They basically did a strip search (hahah j/k)! Super strict these days.

  8. Just had to say. Great article caught my attention right away.

    I had oft suspected the average person didn’t do much work, now I have irrefutable proof! Also your message about working harder is cool too.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, FJJ. I appreciate the comment. I think we all have unique capabilities in life; mine just happens to be the ability to work a lot and not burn out.

      I know we connected recently on Twitter, but I haven’t checked out your site yet – adding it to my list of things to do this evening!

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