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How to Tap Dance to Work

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. — Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech

Have you ever thought why there are plethora of blogs touting how to retire early but none inspiring to work more? Don’t take me wrong. It’s fun to achieve freedom from work — only if you hate it everyday!

It may sound esoteric but we are programmed to live mediocre life by design. We are told to get an advance degree not for what we enjoy doing most, but for making more earned income to pay taxes and keep doing what we hate to do year after year.

Think about it. If you find something that excites you every day, you won’t think about retiring early, instead you will try to find more time doing what you love because you find more inner happiness doing that work compare to spending a week on your favorite beach.

Let me share with you an anecdotal example of what I am talking about. I happen to visit a friend who owns a business in mid-town Atlanta. As I approached his office park, I noticed that three kids were playing a game. They were pretending to own an imaginary McDonald’s franchise. Not knowing their brand name, I approached them and asked if I can have a small frosty. Two out of three looked at me in dismay but the third kid looked straight in my eyes with a smile and said, “Sir, we don’t sell frosty at McDonald’s but we have healthier milkshakes. And if you don’t agree with me after trying it, I will refund your money.”  Wow! I saw commitment in his eyes; I saw purpose in his smile.


I felt awe stuck by this experience. Why do many of us keep doing mediocre work? Why don’t we all find deep sense of purpose and commitment that I saw in that kid’s eyes?

May be that we are all programmed by design to do mediocre work to exchange our life energy for the currency. That’s it. We are programmed to earn a degree to appease our parents and family members; we are programmed to do work we hate to make more money in order to appease others by inflating our lifestyle. We do everything to keep doing more of what we hate to do to find happiness from external objects rather than seeking happiness from within.

 In my adult business life I have never had to make a choice of trading between professional and personal. I tap-dance to work, and when I get there it’s tremendous fun.- Warren Buffett

This is the man who truly does what he loves. The battle between Productivity and anti-productivity blogs stems from their convoluted chains of frequently twisted rational to substantiate their claim that productivity is a force of an external demand – from an employer,  a competitor or your own family. In reality, productivity comes from within. It comes from doing what we love and loving what we do.

When we start trading time between our professional and personal life, we wage war in our own mind to justify our passion in terms of a personal benefit. In my business I have felt more stress and angst when I haven’t given all of my talent, hard work and passion to help others on a given day. The myth of working hard to make more money to buy more things throws us in the vicious circle of hallucination. Our happiness always remains imprisoned when we do work that we abhor yet justify doing it to pay bills for those things that we don’t need.

In fact this young kid taught me that your passion quadruples when you make only goal of helping others by doing what you love to do most.


The hardest part of the puzzle is to find your true passion. I am not going to dwell into this subject as you can find thousands of articles on the Internet. However, as new years arrives, I want you to write down three things that you enjoy doing. These are the things that you can’t find enough time to spend doing for the rest of your life. If you think that you have none to jot down, think twice. I am confident that you will find one or two.

Have you ever noticed the ripple effect of a pebble that hits the water? Have you noticed that harder you try, with focus, you can increase the size of the ripple? Once you find a skill that you are passionate about, you can focus and create a circle of happiness that comes from within.

Life is not an easy odyssey. Financial constraints keep you from even dare to change the course. But, with the new year, you can make a pledge to steer your financial circumstances in your favor so that you can spend more time doing what you love to do. Sooner you start saving more, less you will be inclined to do the work that steals your inner happiness.

Commit yourself to start a new year with the only goal to keep doing more of what you love doing most, and to live an awesome life.

That little kid reminds me every day that work should be play and play alone. Do what you love — that’s the only thing that matters most for your lasting inner happiness and lifelong retirement.

Happy New Year!!


Why You Need F-You  Money @ Jlcollinshnh

Retire in Your Mind Even if You Love Your Job @ Mr Money Mustache

Free and Simple Ways to do Good @ Modest Money

How to be Rich by Creating Value for Money @ One Cent at a Time

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Comments (20)

Thank you for the inspirational article. It’s hard to succeed without having a purpose and steadfast commitment towards whatever that excites you to wake up early and work hard.

Rod, thanks for the kind words!

I think you’re right on with this. Now, I think that many people find themselves in a position where they chase status, money, or comfort when they pick a career. Or, they just fall into something without much planning, and end up doing that for a living. The thing is, by loving what one does, the money can come later because you’ll probably be good at it, will work hard, and will be enthusiastic.

You are right on the money. Most people work for living due to societal pressure. That’s why I believe that minimalist mindset is must to avoid these traps.

Thank you for this great article. I committed myself to an awesome life many years ago and have never regretted it. I will work till the day I die because I simply love what I do.

I can’t agree with you more, Graham! Thanks for visiting my blog. I enjoy reading your writing.

Good assessment. I have seen that Warren Buffett quote many times. I think a lot of this comes down to perception. What you put into your career is what you’ll get out of it. If you never appreciate what it is you do, grow with your job, or develop others / the business, then you’ll never like what it is you do.

You are a wise man, MMD! No wonder I cherish your friendship.

I had a great guest on our podcast, Laurie Ruettimann, who argued the opposite tack. I think you’re both right: to a certain degree, you need income to fund your life. Beyond that, THEN it’s time to work in jobs you love.

I’m lucky that, like you, I absolutely love what I do, and will have no problem doing this forever (at least I hope so!).

Now, I need to listen to that Podcast, Joe!

I agree with doing what you love. Our lives are so short so why spend it doing something you don’t want to do? I think we would all be happier if we found a purpose in our “work lives”.

Absolutely! Well said, David!!

great perspective here, my friend.

for me the goal of FI was never about ‘retirement.’ It was about freedom and always having options. Those are the most important things money can buy.

As the old saying goes, it can’t buy happiness. But with financial freedom, happiness is a lot easier to pursue.

No one embodies the true meaning of freedom and happiness more than you, my friend. You are an inspiration to me and many people around the world.

Life teaches us lessons everyday, and there is nothing wrong to learn from a kid either.

[…] How to Tap Dance to Work on Street Smart Finance […]

Great post! We get so focused on the paycheck that we forget what we are working for in many cases. I don’t think you have to love your job more than you love your favorite hobbies or past times, but if you approach it with the right attitude, it can be a means to get you where you want to be, so we should all be appreciative. If we aren’t make changes.

Well said, Kim!

[…] How to Tap Dance to Work at Street Smart Finance. I’m not sure I tap dance to work, but I certainly haven’t ever felt sad to be there either. […]

[…] Get your dancing shoes, Shilpan at Street Smart Finance shows How To Tap Dance to Work […]