Photo: pexels.comM-Theory: Good financial planning is the key to a lazy life Melanie Baker March 30, 2017 Communitech, Ecosystem, Featured, M-Theory In tech, hustle is a religion. If you’re not overworked, under-slept, and late for a meeting, you’re failing. But when folks are addicted to busy, they tend to have tunnel vision. They don’t notice what they’re missing out on, and trying to tell them falls on deaf ears. So hearing the opposite from someone who’s smart and successful brings a certain smug satisfaction. Author Michael Lewis argues that being too busy and focusing on too many things causes you to tackle everything poorly, miss out on great opportunities, and skews your sense of self worth. Sure, he’s not in tech. Yes, there are super successful people who do all manner of things and never sleep. But Lewis makes a lot of good points that boil down to quality over quantity in life. Dedicating yourself to hustle wholesale when all you have is passion and ideas is dangerous. Most big choices shouldn’t be made too fast and without context or experience. And relying on others to shape your decisions isn’t “mentorship.” Learning takes time, and running a startup, for example, requires wearing a lot of hats. Hiring, firing and management. Financial savvy. Industry and international experience. Technical understanding. Just to scratch the surface. Even if entrepreneurship is your dream, there is much to be said for taking your time, vetting your ideas when there are low stakes, and first learning the ropes. There’s no shame in working for the man. Most of us do. Doesn’t have to be forever. Constantly focusing on go-go-go discourages you from asking questions (of yourself and others), really figuring out how you feel about things, and seeing what other ideas bubble up. You know what happens when people act rashly, aren’t allowed to ask questions, and get locked into a single idea? Wars. Crappy marriages. Bad tattoos. Excessive hustle makes you prone to accepting a lot of compromise just to get things done so you can move on to the next overdue thing. Decisions and their consequences lose context and import. Everything becomes a checklist item, until the lack of due diligence blows up later or takes you down an unwanted path. (Ounce of prevention, pound of cure …) Raising millions in venture capital as early as possible to enable hockey stick growth seems like a good idea. You were told it was by people who’ve done it before, and it sounds awesome. Bootstrapping and measured, sustainable growth is for suckers. This is why little product features like “security” get shunted off to the side to be dealt with … later. Taking your time means you refuse to be bullied into ignoring your own ideas, values, or misgivings in favour of what others are pushing on you. Gives you time to wonder why they’re pushing so hard, too. Author Neil Gaiman has commented on the importance of boredom on a number of occasions. It’s where the drifting, daydreaming, and peering at ideas from many angles happens. But thanks to endless entertainment and distractions, we don’t really know how to be alone with our thoughts, or how to banish fear of missing out long enough to get through anxiety, whiny boredom, and out the other side into creative mental wandering. Ok, so if you want to embrace “laziness,” let’s consider the single best tool to set you on that path: good financial planning. Not just for investment and cash flow for your startup, but for anyone. (For women, the f—k off fund.) Teaching financial planning in school would do all of society a favour. It would make circumstances seem less insurmountable when you’re early in your career and underpaid. Like breaking the habit of hustle, it takes self-training. But having such a fund means that if you lose your job (and let’s face it, most startups do fail) you don’t have to panic and take the first crappy offer that comes along. Lateral or backward career moves can be really damaging to growth and goals, long-term. And being laid off without enough money on hand is so much more stressful without a fund. Think about the freedom to leave your job on your terms if your work isn’t challenging, if you’ve been sexually harassed, or you decide you aren’t sold on that career path. If your dream is to be an entrepreneur, consider having the time to do your research, talk to people in the industry you’re interested in, sort out business plans, etc. You’d be able to focus, take time to think, and shadow folks already doing what you want to do. Young women, particularly, don’t always have quite the same organically developed network, connections, assumption of favours, and the like. So it can take longer. This is more sane than trying to rush through it all as quickly as possible to avoid running out of money, or sacrificing having a life and being eternally exhausted because you have to keep your day job, too. Ultimately, Lewis’ idea of “laziness” is a way of focusing your life and your work on you. More time not worrying about what everyone else needs from you. More time not owing others ROI. More time spent with your imagination and your gut. Women, particularly, are rarely encouraged to focus on themselves, or indulge heavily in imagination, or rely on their gut. So Lewis’ assertions are actually fairly revolutionary. Everyone has an agenda, and other people’s won’t always be in your best interest. Hell, until you get some knowledge and experience under your belt, your own agenda may not be in your own best interest. Which is why building relationships to get the perspective, information and help you need is important. But that takes time. Shaking off bad habits to enable you to work through problems and make good decisions takes time. Building up a bank account that gives you the power of f—k off takes time . So let’s start getting lazy.