I used to laugh at the idea of full-time work being 40 hours per week.
That’s lightweight stuff!
I was regularly putting in over 50 hours per week at work in the auto industry, where I worked as a service advisor. It was expected. It was the de facto workweek.
In fact, one dealership I worked at had crazy intermittent Monday hours where I’d come in at 7:30 in the morning and leave at 9:00 at night. Yippee!
Being overworked and overstressed isn’t really good for one’s health or psyche, but I actually think, for me, my career made me more introverted and cynical than I naturally am.
A Born Introvert
Now, I’m not the kind of guy who brings the party with me. I don’t do well in big crowds.
I almost never drink alcohol, so hanging out at bars has never been my thing. Small talk is equally difficult for me.
My preference is for quiet places where I can have one-on-one conversations that go beyond surface discussions about work, weather, and women. I enjoy having a deep dialogue, which is, in part, why this site exists. If I can’t have a deep discussion, I’ll instead shoot for deep exposition. Moreover, I love being a coach, as it allows me to take conversations where they usually never go.
With this in mind, I certainly don’t “blame” my prior job for somehow scarring me for life or something. My personality didn’t make a long-term 180-degree change.
However, there was a substantial change in how I looked at people and the broader world around me during my nine-year career.
Becoming More Introverted And Cynical
There’s something about being in a position of servitude (a wage slave) that can make one more dour than they otherwise might be.
I’ve been screamed at mercilessly because someone over-revved and blew the engine in their $150,000 Porsche.
I’ve had keys thrown at me by an upset customer, after their third visit in a row for the same issue.
I’ve had technicians refuse to work on cars, believing that their rotation in the workflow was unfair and biased.
The list goes on and on and on…
But I won’t bore you.
Instead, I’ll just note that this has a way of adding up over time, even for someone that considers himself an eternal optimist.
What happened over time is this: I started to become more introverted and cynical.
I wanted to go out on weekends less and less, instead preferring to just stay home where I could mentally and physically recuperate from the demands that my career placed on me. I was tired all the time. The last thing I wanted to do on a Saturday night was go out and have fun when I was just so tired from working 50 or 60 hours the prior week. All I could think of doing all weekend, almost every weekend, was relaxing.
Of course, this worked out to my benefit, seeing as how I was spending less, investing more, and cranking up the velocity that my rocket needed to escape the gravitational pull of my job. As I’ve written about before, I’m glad to have had a job I hated.
But I also started to see the worst in people. I was in a position of servitude (both to bosses and customers) all the time, which can make you a cynic. I naturally have this interesting juxtaposition occurring inside of me, being an INTJ personality type, where I simultaneously see all these possibilities for us as a species but yet also what most people choose to do in reality. There’s this optimist and pragmatist always battling against one another, but I do think the constant exposure to something so cumbersome gave more power to the inner cynic.
The bosses have quotas regarding parts sales, labor hours, and survey scores. The technicians only want “gravy” jobs where they can log four hours of flat time for something that only takes two hours. The customers want us to fix their cars perfectly right the first time, every time. And my co-workers would often try to steal easy jobs that earned high commissions while sticking me with terrible jobs and miserable customers.
Speaking of co-workers, seeing these people walk/run around like zombies every day made me feel like all of these shows depicting the zombie apocalypse were on to something. Walk to the shop. Deliver repair order. Listen to technician complain. Check with parts. Call customer. Finalize invoice. Walk to cashier. Collect payment. Walk back to office. Rinse. Repeat. It’s the same thing every single day. It made me want to just escape it all.
And being screamed at because some $100,000 car needs a $750 maintenance or repair, while 800 million people around the world are essentially starving, just kind of blows your mind when you think about it all.
One starts to lose their hope in people a little bit when you have this dynamic that pits you against others. And you become shocked when people who seem to be surrounded by money and luxury aren’t really all that happy at all.
But this, too, proved to be a blessing in disguise, as it further reinforces my belief that more money does not make one happier once they have their needs and a few wants covered. Owning a $100,000 car and a $2 million house doesn’t paint a smile on your face.
The Extrovert In Me Blossoming
But things are different these days.
I haven’t clocked in at a dealership since May 2014.
And I feel more hopeful, inspired, and extroverted than ever.
No longer being in a position of servitude where I’m simultaneously competing against co-workers for a buck has made a tremendous difference in my outlook on life and how I interact with people.
First, I want to get out more than ever.
I’m home a lot. I don’t have an office any more. I can literally write, read, and check the Full-Time Fund from my bedroom, if I want to. That means I don’t even have to leave the bed.
But is that really where I want to be? In bed all day?
This situation has the effect of motivating me to get out of the house. I look forward to going out for walks, hitting the gym, visiting the beach, riding the bus, hanging out at the local Starbucks, or going out for a bite to eat downtown.
I want to be surrounded by people and the world around me more than ever. Instead of seeing home as this refuge from this miserable job, home instead becomes a bit of a prison that keeps me away from a beautiful world.
That newfound perspective has caused me to be just a little less introverted and just a little more extroverted.
Second, I treat people in roles of service with a lot of respect and patience.
I waited tables back in college, before I ended up a service advisor. So I’ve been in a position of serving others for most of my life. Even now, I technically serve you readers with content. I also serve clients as a coach.
Well, these experiences of being on the other side of the counter has only served to reinforce my respect for those that now serve me.
When I interact with anyone serving me (from a barista to a bus driver), I’m really thankful for that person’s service. And I go out of my way to let them know. I try to be a better customer. Through that, I think I’m a better person.
That’s because I’m less cynical.
Instead of spending a lot of my time around customers who were unhappy to see me, superiors that were never satisfied, or co-workers trying to eat my lunch (sometimes literally – I’d occasionally have my lunch stolen), I’m now spending my time around people driving me where I need to go, serving me up a great cup of coffee, or bringing me food I enjoy eating.
I’m taking advantage of the service economy rather than it taking advantage of me.
I’m also able to spend more quality time and energy around people close to me because I’m not all used up. And I’m also spending more time around non-people that brighten up my day more than I can ever say.
Whereas before I just wanted to shelter myself from the world and relax after brutal workweeks at the dealership, I now want to get out of the house more than ever.
And where I used to be a cynic due to my perspective, I now see a totally different side to people and the world I live in.
No longer being in a position of service, I’m freed of expectations by others while simultaneously assuming the best about those around me.
I appreciate people more than before. I appreciate service more than ever. The world is just a little brighter and better than it was before, for me. And I genuinely want to make the world a better place now that I’m able to enjoy such a blessing at an incredibly young age. Instead of wanting to throw keys back at someone who just threw them at my face (do I look like Mike Piazza or something?), I’m thinking about how to inspire people, make the world a better place, and pursue happiness with every ounce of my being.
This shift in lifestyle has had a dramatic impact on my mindset. My thoughts are no longer consumed by tasks that do nothing for my happiness, which has freed up my time, creativity, and energy. And all of this has shifted where I’m at in terms of hedonic adaptation, too.
Essentially, I’m able to spend more time, creativity, and energy on things that matter to me and actually move the dial in regards to my overall quality of life. My entire outlook has changed. And I’m feeling more optimistic, extroverted, and happy than ever before!
What do you think? Does your job make you more introverted and cynical? Do you think financial freedom will free you from some of that, allowing you to spend more time on things that actually matter to you? Are you interested in becoming financially independent? If so, check out my coaching service.
Thanks for reading.
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