A past boss of mine once said to my wife, “I spend more waking hours with your husband than you do.”
At that moment, I realized, even though the statement wasn’t entirely true, the amount of time I spent away from the most important person in my life was shocking.
Let’s do the math, for further clarification:
Hours Spent Working
There are roughly 8,760 hours in a calendar year.
Based on a 52-week work year, I would work 5-days a week, for roughly 9-hours a day, while commuting 1-hour. That works out to 2,600 hours total.
Subtract 2-weeks of paid vacation.
In theory, I would be away from my wife for 2,500 hours in the calendar year.
“Waking” Hours Spent Not Working (a.k.a with my wife)
Subtract the hours spent away (2,500 hours) from the hours in the year (8,760 hours).
That’s 6,260 hours spent not working.
Remember, this is “waking” hours spent not working.
Let’s say I sleep 8-hours per night.
Multiply that by 365 nights in a year.
That’s 2,920 hours spent sleeping in a year.
Let’s subtract my time spent sleeping (2,920 hours) from my non-working hours (6,260 hours).
That’s 3,340 hours spent awake and not working.
Basically, I would spend 3,340 waking hours with the most important person in my life and almost 2,500 hours with my boss in the year.
The fact that nearly 43% of my waking hours would be dedicated to someone who didn’t mean the world to me just didn’t make sense.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually liked my boss and enjoyed my work environment. However, how long must I do this? When does the cycle end? When I retire?
Making a change
Once I came to terms with the fact that I spent way too much time away from loved ones, with no foreseeable end to the cycle, I decided that this was not the way I wanted to live the next 40 years of my life. This realization was the catalyst for a change. A big change.
At this point, I had found out my wife was pregnant. Most people would think that this would be a very good reason not to leave their job, however, I saw it as an even stronger reason why I needed to leave; I would now have another person who meant the world to me and needed me. I didn’t want to spend 43% of my waking hours away from both my wife and my child! I wanted to be there to help my wife recover, I wanted to see my little child change every single day, I wanted to be the one who decided how much time I spent with my loved ones, doing the things we wanted to do.
And so that’s what I did.
I kindly left my full-time job; a job that I quite liked. However, it wasn’t just a job that I left behind—the 9-5, “work-your-way-up”, 2-week (or too weak) vacation, on-location work environment became a thing of the past. I had no desire to return to that type of work again, not because it’s inherently bad, but because it just didn’t quite jive with me.
It never has jived with me, since the day I found out what “work” was.
“Burning the boat”
A phrase I quite like; it very accurately sums up what I did next. After I left my job, I decided to go it alone, become a full-time freelancer, and finally build Brightside Studios. The burning of the boat aspect came into play once we moved down to Lethbridge — a charming, windy-ass city with absolutely no prominent web design/development studios or agencies. In short, no job to fall back on if I failed miserably 😉 Essentially, I gave myself no option other than success.
I was scared as shit, but absolutely invigorated and determined.
8 months later
Professionally, this has been by far, the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve achieved exactly, and more, than what I could have dreamed of when I set out on this journey of location-independent self employment. I’m still working for myself, on my own terms, and have absolutely no intentions of stopping.
I now have a gorgeous little daughter, Ayla Levanna, who’s changed my life forever, and I get to spend as much time with her as I want. In fact, since she was born, I don’t think I’ve spent more than 4-hours away from her at a time. When my wife was in labour, I just told my clients “my wife’s having a baby right now, I’ll get back in touch in a week or so”, and that was it. I was able to support her for as long as she needed throughout labour and delivery, and postpartum, too.
I get to work from home, a coffee shop, a plane, a train—it doesn’t matter. My work comes with me wherever I go. And wherever I go, is where my loved ones are. I now spend 90% or more of my waking hours with the ones I love. I do the things I want to do (which includes work, because I love what I do), when I want to do them, on my own terms.
That, mis amigos, is worth more than a good salary. And if you can make a good salary doing what you love, what the heck are you waiting for?
To be clear, this is my story, and it’s quite specific to my situation. I’m not bashing 9-5 jobs, or saying that you’re wrong for having one; you may love your job, and I think that’s perfect. My point is I believe that it’s important to recognize how your time is being spent, and to try your best to utilize it so that you’re happy. Whether you’re a corporate soldier, an actor, a full-time traveler, or just simply working a great job that helps pay the bills, and support your lifestyle — as long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing, then I think you’re on the right track. I would be misrepresenting my message if I said that you need to be doing what I’m doing in order to be happy.
How do you spend your waking hours?
Have you considered leaving your job for something more fulfilling? Toying with a business idea? Have you already been doing what you love? Do you work a 9-5 job and love it? If you’re still reading at this point, please share your story (or your thoughts) below in the comments section—I would absolutely love to hear it!
Cheers, my good friends.