A key element to the Old Money philosophy is the work ethic. Many people think that Old Money descendants don’t work hard. It’s true, some loaf. Some don’t work at all, but they aren’t happy. Most children in affluent families work hard. It’s expected. And it’s essential for happiness.
You see, real happiness requires purpose. Once life has purpose, that purpose must be fulfilled. To fulfill that purpose requires action. Action usually takes the form of work.
Many people equate hard work with mind-numbing drudgery, back-breaking sweat, and all-round misery. If you’re not doing something you love, that can be very true. If you don’t know exactly why you’re working hard, tasks can be miserable. But if you are lucky enough to do work you love, you’ve won the lottery. Your work may be challenging, but it will be truly rewarding. You will likely excel at it. You will, overall, enjoy it and look forward to it.
If you aren’t doing what you love for a living at present, you can still ask yourself why you’re working. When you answer, “I’m working to take care of my family, to put my kids through school and give them better opportunities,” that gives you purpose. That gives your work meaning.
If you are working at a job that is not your passion in order to transition to a job that is your passion, endeavor to do your best at your present job. Treat every day as an opportunity to complete as much as you can, to wrap things up as completely as possible.
Why? Because work habits are work habits. The way you do your present job is the way you’ll do your dream job. Because tomorrow could be the day that a small door opens into a big room. Your opportunity to do what you live for a living arrives, and you can bid your current work situation farewell with a clear conscience, a clean desk, and nothing but best wishes from your colleagues and supervisors.
You also want to work hard in order to be able to enjoy leisure. It’s the contrast between activity and rest that gives enjoyment and clarity to both. If you don’t have anything meaningful and challenging to do four or five days a week, you’re going to be bored out of your skull.
You’re also going to make poor choices because your life lacks focus. An Old Money friend of mine has three adult children. None of them spoiled. None of them with drug or alcohol problems. All of them happy, living good lives, working in professions that they enjoy.
He brushed off any kind of mystery or magic in the parenting process. “I worked hard. I made time for them. I listened to them. But I spent a lot of time at the office. They grew up comfortably, but when they started high school, I got them summer jobs. God-awful jobs. Digging ditches, that kind of thing. Two reasons: first, so they’d know what kind of jobs are available if you don’t get an education; second, so they could relate to all kinds of people and have respect for all kinds of people. We’re not snobs. It was good that they saw first hand, at a young age, that money comes from work. I think it improved their decision-making ability. Hard work irons out stupid.”
Not the most eloquent turn of phrase, but still true: hard work does iron out stupid.