Choosing a 70-Hour Workweek

One of the stated advantages of adopting a minimalist lifestyle and running a minimalist business is that you can make enough money to live on while working a lot less than the average person.  Timothy Ferris’s book “The Four-Hour Work Week, shows you exactly how it can be done.  Working less each week frees up time for you to do the things you have passion for the rest of the week.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  We’d all like to knock work out in just a few hours and spend the rest of our time traveling the world or just lounging by the pool, wouldn’t we?  Or would we?

Last June I lost my retail management job.  Even though I may have been losing some of my passion for retail management, I really enjoyed this job.  If I was going to be in retail management, I couldn’t think of a place where I would rather have worked.  Within days of my termination, the mother of one of my co-workers called me with a job offer.

Diane, not her real name, and her husband owned a commercial cleaning business.  Most of their business consisted of cleaning schools, offices, and other businesses in the late evening or overnight hours when they were closed to the public. She offered me some cleaning jobs so I could have some money coming in while I was looking for other work.

Diane was the most “hyper” person I have ever met.  She talked fast, moved fast, and always had somewhere else where she was supposed to be. She often made a point of telling me how little sleep she was getting.  Diane showed me how my wife and I, working as a team, could make as much working for her as I made in my previous job.  I passed on the offer because I could not work at the pace that Diane did, but mostly, because I did not want to spend the next 15 years mopping floors and cleaning toilets.

It would be easy to put Diane down and ridicule her lifestyle.  A 70-hour workweek was probably about average for her.  I don’t know when she would ever be able to get away for a vacation. The pace of her life will probably catch up with her someday.  Before you write off Diane as just another society-created workaholic, let me tell some more things I know about her.

  • Even when it seemed she was very tired, she was always happy.  She never appeared to get down or discouraged.
  • She takes pride in her work.  She sets high standards for herself and those working for her and makes every attempt to satisfy her customer’s needs.
  • She is successful.  I don’t have access to her credit report, but she lived in a nice home and drove nice vehicles.  Her customers referred so much business to her that she had to turn down jobs.
  • She has a big heart.  She contributed to every fund raising activity that we had at my previous job.  She was very generous to us. We were purposely overpaid at times, and offered “bonus jobs” to give us some extra money.
  • She has a strong Christian faith which gives her a real heart for people. I always felt that she was genuinely concerned with how  we were doing.

A 70-hour workweek would not be my choice.  I would prefer to be closer to the 4-hour workweek.  We tend to project our own beliefs unto others and assume that they believe the same way we believe.  Just because I became disenchanted with my lifestyle doesn’t mean that everyone working long hours for someone else is unhappy.  We need to realize that there are many people who are happy working the 9-5, or the 3-11, or overnights.  It’s what they choose to do, and they are happy with their choice. Isn’t that what it is all about?

Which do you choose?

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If your choice is a minimalist lifestyle, or if you want more information about minimalism and minimalist businesses, you will find some great resources on my recommended reading page.  Commit to buy less, own less, and do less by signing the pledge “A Call for Change, Make 2011 the Year of Less”.


2 responses to “Choosing a 70-Hour Workweek

  1. Good reminder, Rick. Like you, I’m not interested in working 70 hour weeks. I do pull long weeks at times but thank God I have a career that I love which makes it easier. I’m living my dream and my calling so the long weeks that do come along are easy to bear.

    I appreciate your point. Happiness and success are different for different people.

    • Gene, I’m glad that you are living your dream, that’s what it’s all about! People can choose to work 4 hours or 40 hours and still benefit from a minimalist lifestyle. Minimalist come in all shapes and sizes.

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