If you want to be normal, if you want to be like everybody else, then of course you’d want to do like everybody else too. But we also have to recognize that “normal” is just another word for “average,” and striking it on your own with dreams of achieving the dot com lifestyle is hardly the “normal” thing to do. That’s why it requires a completely different kind of mindset, and that might not come easily to many people.
The normal way of thinking would lead you to work more, so that you can earn more money, so that you can achieve greater happiness. Or something along those lines. The dot com mindset, on the other hand, tries to eliminate this one-to-one connection between hours and dollars. In a vlog, John explained why you should never trade your time for money. He could be making tens of thousands of dollars more per month, but he chooses not to, because he’d rather spend the time with his family. He’d rather spend the time building systems that make money even if he isn’t there.
In short, the main objective and the primary appeal of the dot com lifestyle is that you get to enjoy greater time freedom. You want to work less, so that you have more leisure time to do the things that you actually enjoy doing. But this is not the mindset that pervades American “workism.”
The Proliferation of Workism
Derek Thompson, staff writer at The Atlantic, wrote that “workism is making Americans miserable.”
Money is attractive, to be sure, but it has become less of the driving force behind working more. It’s more about status and meaning. People want to attach precious letters like CEO and SVP to their names. They want to drive fancy cars, to appear rich on social media, and to find fulfillment in their work. So, they work more. And more. And more. They ascribe the most important aspects of their self-identity to the work that they do. It’s their purpose in life.
Rich, college-educated people—especially men—work more than they did many decades ago. They are reared from their teenage years to make their passion their career and, if they don’t have a calling, told not to yield until they find one.
It wasn’t all that long ago that, for most people, a job was just a job. It’s just what they did to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. There was no real sense of deeper meaning or purpose there. The job was a means to an end.
In the past century, the American conception of work has shifted from jobs to careers to callings—from necessity to status to meaning. In an agrarian or early-manufacturing economy, where tens of millions of people perform similar routinized tasks, there are no delusions about the higher purpose of, say, planting corn or screwing bolts: It’s just a job.
Now we’re all told to pursue our passions. And not just to pursue our passions, but also to turn those passions into our jobs. Our livelihoods. And with that, we have come to ascribe so much of who we are to the work that we do.
The best-educated and highest-earning Americans, who can have whatever they want, have chosen the office for the same reason that devout Christians attend church on Sundays: It’s where they feel most themselves.
But that flies in the face of the dot com lifestyle. Love what you do, sure. Internet marketing and blogging can be a lot of fun. But the culture of hustle is overrated, and we should really be thinking about how we can scale our work without actually working more. Wouldn’t you rather work less?
The Art of Leisure
And this leads me right back to why John doesn’t offer private coaching sessions. It would take up more of his time, time that he is not willing to give up because it flies right in the face of the fundamental guiding principle of the dot com lifestyle in the first place.
In 1980, the highest-earning men actually worked fewer hours per week than middle-class and low-income men, according to a survey by the Minneapolis Fed. But that’s changed. By 2005, the richest 10 percent of married men had the longest average workweek. In that same time, college-educated men reduced their leisure time more than any other group.
Wealthy people have always worked fewer hours than poorer people, largely because they could afford to work less and still enjoy a better lifestyle. Why is it, then, that today’s rich men are willing to work more? I say you should stop pursuing this new normal. Instead, take a simple mantra to heart: work to live, don’t live to work.
Because the dot com lifestyle means living for today (and the future). Don’t let life pass you by because you’ve trapped yourself in a corner office for 80 hours a week.