An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  -Benjamin Franklin

What Do You Do?

How do you answer that question?  Do you immediately launch into an excited tale about your incredible occupation?  Or do you give a little sigh of resignation and respond with “I’m a ______,” or “I work at______?”  I’d bet that the majority of people fall into the latter category, even people who enjoy their jobs for the most part.  So, if we’re not all that excited by what we do for money, why do we allow it do identify us to such a degree?

I like to answer the question “what do you do?” with a witty response like, “about what?” or “no more than I have to,” but in the end I sigh and say, “no really, I _____.”  The only reason I put up the facade of coming up with something more interesting to say is because I’d really like to have something more interesting to say.  Unfortunately, the truth is that I derive as much of my identity from my job as the next guy.

If Not Your Job, then What Else?

My goal is to turn myself into a modern day Renaissance man.  Renaissance men were known for their high level of skill in various endeavors, such as science, art, economics, politics, etc.  Think about Benjamin Franklin, what would he say if someone asked him “what do you do?”  I’m sure he made his money through several sources, but his main source of income was his printing business, but I doubt you’d sum up Benjamin Franklin by saying “he was a printer.”  No, you’d list off any number of achievements of his, be them scientific, political, etc.  How did he achieve this?

For one thing, he lived frugally and invested in himself.  Franklin was very entrepreneurial, and he spent a great deal of his time educating himself and seeking to improve all aspects of his character.  This seems to have been very effective.  He achieved financial independence in his forties and was able to free himself of the necessity of trading time for money.  There are people alive today, (edit: check out Mr. Money Mustache) who have been able to do this much earlier than their forties, some of them are well on their way to being Renaissance men, and yet others continue to toil away for that tragic amount of money known as “more.”

It is Great if You Enjoy Your Job; Now Enjoy Something Else!

I’m not saying that it is wrong to love your job, but I do think that there should be more to a person than what they do for money, even if it is the most noble profession in the world.  (Which would be extremely hard to define objectively by the way).  I am raising attention to this because I have noticed a deficiency in my own life, and thought that perhaps I’m not the only one.

I do like my job for the most part, and by some standards it is fairly noble, but when forced to answer “what do you do?” or “who are you?” while leaving out my occupation, I find that there isn’t a whole lot to talk about.  I can say, “I’m a father,” or “I’m a husband.”  But that still defines me through other people, and doesn’t strike at the heart of what I’m made up of.  It doesn’t speak to what I can do, what I know, and what I’ve done.  Lets add some skills and traits to our character make up!

Who has the Time?

One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve advanced solidly into adulthood and am fast approaching middle age, is that between work, family, and “errands” I have very little time to invest in myself.  However, I could also point out several areas of my life that take away time but offer very little benefit in return.  Television ranks high up that list, as does 90% of the time spent on social networking sites, reading “news” that doesn’t relate to anything important (Juror Flirts with Edwards in Courtroom!…Really)?  The truth is that we all probably have more available time than we realize, but we make choices, whether we are aware of them or not, to waste that time.

So What are We Going to Do?

I’d really like to hear some of you guys’ ideas about what you’d like to learn or accomplish to add some depth to your life.  Or perhaps, for those of you who are ahead of the game, what have you learned or accomplished?  How did you make time for it, or keep it as a priority in your life?

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