Wealth and Work: Too far in to Get Out now?

Do you feel like you are Too Far In to get out now?

In the finance world their is a concept called “sunk cost bias,” which refers to the phenomenon where an individual or company has spent so much capital on an investment or product they cannot stop even when failure is the only outcome.

They have gotten too far in (spent too much) and cannot justify the wasted time and cost (investment) if they drop the product.  Here is a definition from businessdictionary.com:

Expenses paid for previously that are not affected by current or future decisions and costs that should be ignored when analyzing new investment activities.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/sunk-cost-bias.html

What does this have to do with our job/work/vocation/career?  More than you might think.

Expenses paid for previously that are not affected by current or future decisions

At any point in our career path, we can look back at the work we have done, the various jobs we may have had, the rewards, raises and promotions we hopefully earned along the way, and all the things we helped accomplish.

None of that can be altered by the decisions you make now or in the future.  It is what it is.  Your decision to stay in a dead end job because you only have 10 years left to full retirement doesn’t change what you accomplished in the past, it doesn’t affect the promotion you either got or didn’t get 4 years ago.

The only value of the past is the experience you can take away from it.   Some example questions to ask yourself might be:

  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What things did you do better than anyone else?
  • What things did you loathe doing?
  • What relationships were helpful to you in getting to where you are?
  • What skills did you acquire that you can bring to a different job or career?

Our possibilities now and in the future are endless.  We need to look forward and stop worrying so much about what we have done so far.

Cost that should be ignored when analyzing new investment activities

One of the biggest problems I had with leaving my previous career was getting over the idea that I had put too much time in to leave now – I would be giving up everything I had worked for so far.

Many colleagues stayed on in jobs they no longer enjoyed simply because they only had 5 or 10 years left to qualify for early retirement.

Then they would stay on 5 more years to max out their retirement benefit.   Sadly, a few timed their retirement perfectly to get the max benefit, only to pass away within a few years after retiring.

As stark as that sounds, this happened to more than one colleague I knew personally, and even more whom I knew professionally.  I took this lesson to heart when I made my decision to leave.

I could not justify staying in a career simply because I was only so many years away from one benchmark or another.  I left just three years shy of a full 20 years in, which would have significantly increased my retirement benefit.  But it wasn’t worth it.

I ignored the cost of 17 years in when I analyzed my options for a new career, a new vocation.

If you are facing a crossroad in your current career, analyze your new options, ignoring the cost or time in to date.  Set it aside and don’t allow it to skew your analysis for the future.

Moving on

Once we have done the clear analysis, and made a decision to move on or stay with a renewed sense of purpose, we can review our past efforts and glean out the experiences, skills, relationships, etc. that will serve us well going into the future.

These are not tasks we performed or even job titles we had.  This is an extraction of the valuable lessons, the interpersonal skills, and the expertise that we can continue to improve on and use to benefit our current and future endeavors.

Leave the titles and position descriptions behind and define your value in your own terms.

Working, Playing or Both

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.”

as attributed to James Michener

Wealth and Work: In it for the Money?

Work and Wealth: In it for the Money?

Are you doing your job just for the money?

Our jobs can easily become a simple means to an end.  We work to get paid so we can pay for shelter, clothing, food, transportation and a bunch of other things we may or may not need.

The good news is we have the power and the capacity to change our attitude toward our work, without needing to change the work itself.  Of course if you have an opportunity to change jobs to better align your work with your calling, by all means seize it.  In reality, those opportunities rarely present themselves if we haven’t already adjusted our attitude in our current situation.

We have the power and the capacity to change our attitude toward our work.  [Tweet]

A Simple Attitude Adjustment Exercise

For starters, try beginning your work day writing down different ways you can best serve your customers, clients, colleagues, supervisors, and anyone else you might interact with that day.  If thoughts come up like, “I’m not getting paid enough to do that,” or “that isn’t part of my job,” write those thoughts down on a separate column or page.

Review your lists and ask yourself

  • Which person would I rather work with?
  • Which person is more likely to be given more responsibility?
  • Which person is more likely to be promoted?

Make sure you follow through on at least one of the ideas for serving others during the day.

At the end of the day take 5 minutes to write down then names of those you served, and how you served them.  Reflect back on their responses.  How did it make you feel after serving someone well?  As you do this day after day you will find your passion for your work will slowly increase, and your concern about money decrease.

You may find that your change in attitude toward your work and your increased passion to serve others well will present new opportunities or promotions, and money will no longer be something you worry about.

Wealth and Work

Wealth and Work

Vocation: A Calling

Our work, our vocation (from the Latin vocare – “to call”), is meant to be a source of wealth for us.  While financial compensation is one way for our vocation to be a source of wealth, it is not the sole source, and our pursuit of financial gain over and above every other aspect of our work may make us rich, but seldom wealthy.

The pursuit of financial gain at the expense of one’s calling may make one rich, but never wealthy.  [Tweet]


Finding meaning in our work and ways to positively impact the lives of others through our work is the true measure of wealth in our work.

When we continue in a job we hate, regardless of the money it pays, there is little wealth in or produced by that job or ourselves. We go through the motions, miserable and creating misery in everyone around us. This is the opposite of wealth – it is poverty.

When we do not give our all to the work set before us we are stealing from those we are meant to be helping, and robbing ourselves of the wealth gained by a job well done.

There are several reasons why we might find ourselves in such a state of vocational poverty:

The good news is we can counteract each of these with discipline and some help from friends, counselors, or coaches.

We’ll examine each of these in greater detail in upcoming posts, exposing the poverty in each, and in doing so discover the way to wealth.






How you define “Work” may define how you “Live”

In a recent blog titled I don’t work, author Jon Acuff admitted that he really doesn’t work, based on the following quote from author James M. Barrie: “Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”  And Jon Acuff only does that which he would rather be doing.

Many comments followed this post stating the importance of work, and that work was intended as a good thing (God having created man and woman to work in and care for his creation, Genesis 2:15).  So how could Jon Acuff, or anyone else for that matter, say it’s not really work when there is nothing else you would rather do?

It is really a matter of definition – and how you define “work” impacts how you live your life.

Have you ever attempted to answer the question, “what is work?”  Consider the following advice from Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek:

“If you can’t define it or act upon it, forget it.”

Specifically, Ferris suggests asking two questions when considering stress-inducing questions like this:

  1. Have I decided on a single meaning for each term in this question?
  2. Can an answer to this question be acted upon to improve things?

In our case, can you decide on a single meaning for the term, “Work”?  If you can define what work is for you ( and I’m fairly certain all of us can), then is there action you can take to improve your work, or improve what work means to you (I believe the answer should be yes to this question, the problem lies in our willingness to take the necessary action)?

Let’s return to the Jon Acuff post mentioned earlier.  It appears that Acuff started out with one definition of work that, when examined under the second question above, could be acted upon to improve things, in his case by redefining “work” based on the Barrie quote, and in light of what gives him fulfillment and life.

In other words, Jon Acuff doesn’t have a job, nor does he have a career, but he has found his vocation, or purpose in life, and while it requires effort, it rarely feels like work.  And that makes life worth living to the full.

How do you define work?  Is there any action you can take to improve things?


Recommended Reading:

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”