Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mission Statement

At some point during the past few years my wife borrowed a book from our library which had a leftover bookmark stuck in it.  This bookmark was a page from a pad of sticky notes that had a pre-printed message on the top.  The message reads:
I don't want to work, but I have to work to make money so I don't have to work.
My wife and I thought this rather succinctly described our own thoughts on the subject of work, so we took the note out of the book and stuck it on our refrigerator, where it has hung ever since.

Reading over my prior entry, I realized I still lack a mission statement for this blog.  I suppose I could modify the above quotation to serve as a mission statement of sorts.


Sure, that may not be the most original statement, but it describes our task at hand.

Let's break it down.

Work:  This is something that one is compelled to do.  It may or may not involve physical labor.   The key element is the absence of free will associated with the act.  For example, I just spent three hours in the kitchen cooking food for the week, doing dishes, and scrubbing and cleaning vegetables from our farm share.   Because I chose to do this, it was not work.  If I had to get up early every day and go to some place where I routinely cooked, and washed dishes, and cleaned and prepped vegetables, it would be work.

Save money:  This is key.  Money is a physical (or at times intangible) representation of work already completed.  It can also substitute for future work.  The more we work, the more money we can save.  The less money we spend, the more money we have left over to take the place of work in the future.

Don't have to work:  The ultimate goal is to make work optional.  Given my above definition of work, the phrase "optional work" may sound like an oxymoron, but bear with me for the moment.

Throughout our lives we make choices about how to spend our time, often exchanging moments of tedium or unpleasantness for some future benefit.  For example, I don't particularly enjoy the act of brushing and flossing my teeth.  I could probably find something more entertaining to do with the 5-10 minutes each day that I spend on this task.  But I enjoy having a clean mouth, and I enjoy avoiding uncomfortable and expensive visits to the dentist.  Furthermore, nobody is telling me that I have to brush my teeth.  Nobody says I must wake up early and brush my teeth for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  I brush my teeth only as long as required to get the benefit I need from it.

Our view on work is similar.  We would love to get to a place where we can keep our work flexible, to a minimum, at a level which meets our needs.  We don't yet know what this might look like, but it's certainly not going to be in the form of decades-long full-time employment.

To our credit, we are already at the point where only one of us has to work to fund our current lifestyle, but that's not enough.  We are in this together.  We need to both be free from the obligation to work.  So, in the short term, we soldier on, working to save money so we don't have to work.

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