Friday, December 23, 2011

The Intersection of Life and Business

Where does business and life intersect? What components of business are personal? How do you define something personal versus something that is public and and economic performance based? Why does business depend almost entirely on economic performance?

I ask these questions because I had to run an errand to the post office this past week during my typical work hours. Since I get paid by the hour, or at least because I am scared of screwing up my employment, It was probably the second time that I have left work in the middle of the day to do something. I felt like I was being a slacker or cheating the company. Time not spent working is time not spent getting paid. One of the things I have been frustrated with since being employed is running errands. Going to places like the DMV, insurance agency, doctor, dentist, post office, mechanic, and other business hours businesses is frustrating because between work and coaching I am busy 7AM to 6PM most days. Fortunately, the Hy-Vee grocery stores in town are open late, even 24 hours I believe. It is frustrating because the industries that I feel are service industries do not really seem to service at the hours that are convenient for me. I know that is being selfish but if they want my business hours that are convenient for me will get my business. The grocery stores and restaurants have figured it out, and they get lots of my money.

Changing subjects somewhat, business can be harsh. Life can be harsh as well, but business seems to value profitability in a monetary sense in a way that life does not value economic profitability. For example, life (in my world) is about relationships. For me to develop and grow a relationship sometimes I have to put in time and money that will not be reciprocated. However, the value of that relationship to me is worth the one way effort that I put in. In business, if you are not profitable, you lose. In life if you never get out what you put in you typically still have a huge value. Those emotionally draining relationships that we have still have value in a way that an unprofitable business does not.

A doctor that fixes a burst appendix and does not get paid would be an example of a draining relationship, but one that has significant value. Realistically the doctor could ask for 5% of that person's earning for the rest of his or her life and it would still be worth it to the patient because he or she did not die. That would be maximizing the economic profitability.

I also see in my older colleagues the intersection of family, specifically dependents, and work. That is a whole other can of worms. Fortunately, my life happens slow enough that I have time to adjust to life changes and come up with philosophical explanations for how I spend my time. Right now, spending time doing what I am doing seems the best use of my time, but I foresee that changing in the future. While I plan to run until I am 90, it will certainly not always be the same as I do now. I did not have more than one day of vacation at a time this year, but again I see that changing dramatically as I age. While I don't plan to retire in the formally accepted manner how will I juggle my time with my family and friends and business as I age? When the conscious decision not to retire in the traditional sense is made it changes the entire picture of life, work, and money. Instead of valuing the free time when I am in my 60s, 70s and 80s more than the free time I have now it liberates me from the burden of saving for a currently intangible delayed life plan and allows me to pursue life now. It also places a huge burden of possible unexpected long term unemployment upon me, so I end up saving a lot of money anyway.

I don't have many answers, but at least by asking the questions we can refine our priorities.

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