I know an organization that frames the less-than-desirable duties of their employees as “get tos.” The idea is to change the mindset from negative to positive. Instead of seeing a duty as something you “have to do,” you change your viewpoint so that you see it as an opportunity for service, or something you “get to do”… a “get to.”
Most of these “get tos” are acts of service to their clients, customers or even someone who cannot pay them back. It ranges from cleaning a toilet, to repairing a broken hinge, to staying up late for an activity, to cooking breakfast the next morning.
Labor Day is America’s 130-year-old tradition of telling her workers, “Lucky you! You get to wake up every day and go to work! So, take a day off to celebrate this wonderful blessing you’ve been given!”
I bet for you work doesn’t always feel like a blessing. But have you ever stopped to consider what an asset it really is?
Work brings us wealth (or at least the income we need to grow our wealth). It also brings us a sense of worth. This is why so many retirees struggle. When they no longer “get to” join their coworkers in a common mission every day, they often lose a sense of purpose.
Obviously, work is a “get to.” And what better time than Labor Day weekend to remember four truths about this amazing asset we’ve been given?
Work is a declining asset. If your rich Uncle in West Texas leaves you an oil well in his will, one of the first things you’ll learn is that an oil well declines in value every day the crude is pumped from it. Every day, there is less and less of the nonrenewable resource in the ground.
In the same way, every day you work is one day you’ve used of the total number of days you’ll ever work.
Work is a diversifiable asset. If you knew that you would stay healthy and work until one week before you died, you would never need to save money or plan for emergencies. But since life doesn’t work that way, we need to diversify out of the one big asset most of us have – our ability to work.
By saving money regularly out of the income we earn through work, and investing that money in other assets – real estate and securities among the popular choices – that can grow and one day produce income for us at a time we are no longer able (or willing) to work.
Most of us will find that over a 40-year work life, we’ll need to save about 15% of our income each year. Some of that we can retain in ultra-safe bank accounts. But the bulk of that saving will need to be allocated to investments and insurance that can one day combine to replace our earned income.
Work is a defendable asset. Since work produces our income, the inability to work assures our loss of income. Take your current, annual income, multiply that number by the total number of years until you plan to retire, and you get a pretty big number.
If Cameron earns $75,000 a year today and plans to work 30 more years, he stands to earn $2.2 million if he never gets a raise. If his income grows with inflation (3%), he stands to earn $3.5 million. If he rose in rank in his organization, he could easily earn over $5 million during his career.
But what if Cameron is struck down by a disability next year? The Social Security Administration reports “just over 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67.”
Disability income insurance is a must for anyone who wants to defend their most valuable asset.
Work is a desirable asset. This is only my opinion, but in so many ways, work is good for us. Through work we provide for ourselves and loved ones, we serve the needs of others and we cooperate to make our entire society better.
By all means, take tomorrow off, fire up the grill, relax and enjoy yourself. You’ve earned it.
But then, get up the next day and head on in to work with a smile on your face.
It’s a get to.
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