Over a single year that's 2.5 working months, 50 working days or about 400 hours. Would that time spent building ourselves not be valuable to employers as much as to ourselves?
Lives can change with a day.
Here are the three ways you can choose to use that extra day, they aren't mutually exclusive and can coexist within the same day:
- Invest the time in increasing your relevance and singularity by focusing on the accumulation of specialized skills through experimentation and continued learning.
- Invest the time in building more independence, growing your network and net worth by consulting, freelancing or starting a side-gig.
- Take some time off to be with family and friends, to take care of your physical or mental health.
All three benefit you, but in my opinion they also benefit employers.
Let's start with the obvious option, using the available time for family or health. In the long-run this is beneficial to everyone, happier and healthier people are also better teammates and managers. Life is short, let's take care of ourselves and others.
Next and most likely, those focused on building independence.
You’ll learn to be proactive and entrepreneurial, to be strategic with your time, to sell and build, to negotiate and communicate. No matter the discipline these are valuable skills to develop for a leadership position within a company and invaluable in a creative agency that exists to solve communication problems.
You’ll also learn to run your own business, issue invoices, handle accounting, service loyal clients and manage multiple incomes streams. The result of which is an increase in independence and most importantly of much needed perspective.
Reducing the dependency on a salary eliminates the anxiety we feel from having all of our creative attention and lives focused on one job - to which we often attach our identities and egos. As soon as we gain this perspective, our professional identities are more detached and unique, removing the need to prove our worth solely within our employment.
Let's imagine a project where every member of the team operates within this paradigm, we reduce the need for unfounded opinions and only a few feel like their creative or technical experience is being challenged when another person on the team or the client disagrees. It is likely that we now overcome these situations more rationally, with more patience and undoubtedly with less anxiety and anger.
Maybe the creative work and the teamwork become more fun and playful.
Whether you are using that extra day for freelancing or learning, the process rewards you with fresh context : new tools, new methods, new industries.
The exposure can accelerate the discovery process towards finding a passion and creating a valuable niche for yourself, but it also brings important wider context to the employer. These external learnings and perspective can be brought into the company to benefit the team and the projects, and is often why consultants are needed in the first place.
Today more than ever, in an industry of change and automation maintaining the ability to harness these tools and stay relevant will require more time and effort - with even more potential upside for the employee and the employer.
For those who choose to invest the time learning and experimenting, the development of hard and soft skills stacked over years of effort make you more unique and can eventually be leveraged to build wealth in many different ways.
Naval has said a lot about the benefits of acquiring specialized knowledge, so I’ll refer this section to his articles.
Investing the extra day in ourselves might seem like a loss of working hours for the company in the short-term, but I believe it will pay