Now that my fiancee is on her way to becoming a doctor I’m seeing first hand just how much work it is to become a physician. Considering how hard it was to get in to medical school, I should have known that it would be even tougher once she was actually in school. But the one thing I never thought about was what it’s like to study and compete with so many over-achievers.
You remember in high school when teachers would assign summer reading? I may have read a book or two but I’m pretty sure reading was at the bottom of my priority list when I was growing up. There were probably a few kids who did all of the assigned reading and started reviewing class textbooks before school started but I definitely wasn’t one of them. I was too busy out playing with my friends or more likely getting into trouble to care about reading a book like The Scarlet Letter.
Going above and beyond the call of duty has never been one of my strong suits. In fact, there aren’t many things that come to mind that I’ve ever really over-achieved at. But I think I’ve done pretty well for myself with this attitude of not wanting to be the best, but also not wanting to be just average. I like being a little bit ahead of the curve but never too far out of sight.
Always Striving for Slightly Above Average
I’m not trying to make myself sound lazy or dumb since I was actually a very good student in high school. I did my homework, studied a decent amount and had some natural ability in math and science. But I’ve always strived to do the best I could while also exerting the least effort. My goal in nearly ever class was to get an A, but in reality, all I really cared about was getting 89.5% or whatever would round up to an A-(which was worth the same as a regular A in high school). I never saw the point of exerting all that extra effort to get the highest grade in the class since at the end of the day it was all worth the same.
I’m very logical by nature so when you tell me that a 90% is an A and 100% is also an A, I’m going to go for the 90% grade since I know it will take less work to get there. I also believe in the law of diminishing returns which states that in order to get from 90% to 100% you have to put in a lot more work than the amount of work required to get from 80% to 90%. And that’s kind of approach I take at my job today. I don’t mind putting in 8 hours a day since that’s what’s required of me but I don’t think I’m nearly as effective at my job during the 9th and 10th hours of the day as I am during the first couple hours.
Does it Pay Off to Go Above the Bare Minimum?
One of the main reasons why I dislike working in the corporate environment is that there is very little correlation between your job performance and your pay. Let’s be honest, at the end of the day, 99% of us are working because we want and need the money. So if you hire on to a salaried job that pays you X amount of dollars for working 40 hours a week, why would you ever do more?
I think there’s a misconception that you can’t be a good employee working only 40 hours a week. If you’re able to maximize your efficiency and work harder, faster and just plain better than your co-workers why would you need to go above the minimum? In the corporate environment, 40 hours is the bare minimum and there are lots of people who choose to work more than that. Not me though.
In my experience(albeit limited), I have found that it does not pay to go above the bare minimum. Even though most salaried employees don’t get paid for overtime, my company actually pays us for working overtime and I still don’t want to do it! I value my time too much and it doesn’t hurt that my online streams of income can bring in just as much, if not more on a per hour basis.
Going Above the Bare Minimum
I’m sure there are a lot of people who think my cavalier attitude towards work and school is a sign of laziness but I think I’ve done pretty well for myself with this way of thinking. I like having lots of free time outside of work and when I go home I don’t think about my job until the next day when I sit down at my desk at 7:30 am. I’m sure I could make more money or get a promotion faster if I busted my ass for 60 hours a week but I make plenty of money considering all I have to do is sit in a cubicle for 8 hours. If you start saving and investing early on in life, it’s pretty amazing what you can achieve financially without ever making more than six figures.
If I wanted to just skate by doing the bare minimum at my job I could have a pretty good life. But I’ve also found another source of income working online that lets me work less and ultimately could equal the pay at my day job. Building my online businesses is a lot of work and it’s even tougher to do it after I work 8 hours a day but in the end it will be worth it. My ‘other career’ lets me work for myself, set my own hours and make my own money. Right now, I’m going above and beyond the bare minimum but eventually it should lead to more freedom and less stress which sound pretty nice in my book.
One of the biggest reasons why I don’t mind going above the bare minimum for my online businesses is that I see a direct correlation between how much effort I put into them and how much success I’m having. That correlation is what motivates me and keeps me working hard in order to achieve my goals. I’m finally going above the bare minimum and it’s totally paying off. But if things go well, I’ll be back to my ‘slacker ways’ in a few years.
Readers, what do you think about just doing the ‘bare minimum’ to get by? Can you live a pretty good life with these values or do you have to always be motivated and inspired to get to the top? I’m probably somewhere in the middle but I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.