Make money that’s worth it…

Was that Day Off Worth his Life^ - NARA - 534698

Was that Day Off Worth his Life^ – NARA – 534698 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m in the midst of putting some old posts back up. That means searching through the Wayback Machine, looking for interesting posts (like many other writers, I think that a lot of what I’ve put out in the past is drivel), and then copying and pasting it into the blog platform, and then altering the date (so that the URL doesn’t change). I came across this postfrom December 14, 2006. In re-reading it, it occurred to me that with

just a few edits, it’s all still relevant today. So, rather than put it back in its old place, I’m putting up a new post (with appropriate edits), exactly 7 years after posting it the first time.

I’m one of the fortunate people who gets to make a living doing something that I’m both interested in and that I do well. What people probably don’t know is that my wife and I split school duties with the kids. I teach them history and grade the occasional paper, and she handles most of the rest of the school work (as she’s a stay-at-home mom now). But, when the kids went to public schools, we did still split school duties. At 7:30 every morning, I would take the kids to school, and every afternoon my wife goes and picks them up. It didn’t take long until we had fallen into a bit of a routine.

Part of that routine happens when I let them out of the car. I would always tell them to “have a great day and learn a lot.” One morning, Timothy, who usually just responded with “you, too, Dad”, said something that I originally thought to be kind of silly but that becomes more profound the more that I think about it. He said, “Make money that’s worth it!” as he bounded from the car and toward the door of the school.

Now think about that for a moment. Let it roll around in your head for a bit.

“Make money that’s worth it.”

You know, we live in a world full of people who are making money and are miserable doing it. And today, as I thought more and more about what he said, I thought more and more about the things that I do and why I’m doing them.

What makes the money that I’m making worth it?

I work in Internet abuse. Well, more precisely, I work at preventing abuse. I work as the Senior Policy Compliance Specialist for ExactTarget, a marketing company. A great deal of my job involves responding to incidents where clients are doing something that results in their email not getting through. A great deal of my job also involves advocating for the rest of the Internet within the company.

Now, why get into that? Perhaps it’s because I still remember how I felt coming home to an inbox full of spam.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can’t stop spam for everyone. But, that’s what makes what I’m doing worth it, you see. While I cannot stop it for everyone, what I can do is help to police one small corner of it. I can make sure that what my clients do isn’t abusive. So, in my own way, I’m making a difference, and getting paid for it. That’s making money that’s worth it.

But, as much as I like that, I don’t want to do this forever. No one really wants to work for someone else forever, and my wife has this company, Whizardries, that could always use more attention. We do some great things there, too.

Usually under the aegis of Whizardries, I also do some development work for friends, former co-workers, or even myself (I still need to get around to finishing up this ColdFusion frontend to rbldnsd that I’ve been keeping to myself for two years now). And even though no money usually changes hands, the work is worth every moment that I put into it even when I don’t particularly feel like doing it; both from the standpoint of helping others/paying forward, and building and reaffirming those relationships.

There are some things, though, that don’t seem worth it at the time. One of those is finishing graduate school. When I wrote this originally, I had just finished the fall semester and lacked just one more semester to get my Masters of Science in Computer Information Systems. I started that degree so that I might be able to find some consulting work as an expert witness. But, that was before starting finding more gainful employment. I had all of this other stuff that I was doing for school in addition everything else that I do. And it took up a lot of my time. That semester I (Carol would probably add “finally” here) noticed that it made me pretty cranky, especially toward the end of a term. A lot of that was because I felt like I’d not really been a father to my kids. I was working, going to school, studying, and then collapsing to watch some late night TV before starting it all again the next morning. It was hard to say that it was worth it at the time, but looking back now, I think that it probably was.

I don’t attach religious significance to Christmas. As a result, Christmas has always been an “ending the year” time for me, and that strikes me as a good time for reflections like this. And now you’ve seen pretty a whole day’s worth of reflection on this one subject.

If you haven’t done so yourself, let me also encourage you to take some time to ask yourself the question: Is the money I’m making worth it?