A Humble Defense of the 9–5 Lifestyle

How maintaining a 9–5 job could benefit you both professionally and financially.

A.J. Deveaux
Sep 6, 2019 · 7 min read

The 9–5 way of life has not been given a good rap as of recently.

Every day across Instagram, we are told that 9–5 living is death to our soul, that if we willfully accept such an existence that we have somehow failed to reach our full potential.

The allure towards this type of perspective isn’t entirely our fault however, as it is something that has been ingrained in us from an early age.

Every year, as springtime passes and summer leans forward, millions of college graduates will be administered the same form of gospel that has routinely been proselytized to them by millionaires and self-help gurus alike:

  • Follow your passion

While such aphorisms sound ostensibly modest — if not encouraging on paper, they do in fact run the risk of setting up millions of hardworking people for disappointment.

Despite its bad rap in recent years, a 9–5 living does in fact offer a substantial amount of perks in terms of financial benefits and personal growth. Here a few things to keep in mind before you consider quitting the 40-hour workweek.

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Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash

1. A 9–5 Ensures a More Stable Income

For a lifestyle that has been vehemently abhorred in the media, there are few that would argue that such living does not provide a steady stream of reasonable income.

The forty-hour workweek allows us to maintain a modest and consistent cash flow which we can use to support ourselves in the long run.

While it may be argued that quitting our 9–5 would allow us to devote more time to work on our dream projects (freelance work, building a startup, etc.), such pursuits cannot realistically come to fruition if we don’t have a sturdy financial base to fall back on in the first place.

Last spring, I decided to quit my full-time job in the hopes of generating income through avenues such as freelance work, one-off gigs, and a plethora of side hustles.

Though I have recently begun to establish somewhat of a steady cash flow, I would be lying if I didn’t say I miss the days when a check was 100% guaranteed every two weeks.

A nine to five job will provide a framework for you to support the “current you” in the moment, while also allowing you invest in the “future you” .

If you have dreams of building a startup from the ground up, a 9–5 job may allow you to cultivate the financial security you will need in order to fund your endeavor.

Consider the Following

The truth of the matter is, it’s very difficult to focus on growth and transcendence when we’re constantly worrying about our stability and well-being.

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Maslow’s Hierarchy

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs illustrates this point even further.

The need for self-actualization and transcendence lies at the top of the pyramid, whereas our needs for safety and physiological well-being rest firmly at the base of the pyramid.

What is the lesson behind this theory you may ask?

It’s very hard to follow your “passion” when you can barely afford to cover your rent and other monthly expenses.

You may one-day reach the point where your passion project or dream business venture is able to generate enough income fully support your lifestyle, but until that happens, you may be better off keeping your 9–5 job in addition to working hard on the business that will eventually become your future line of employment.

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Photo by Max Böhme on Unsplash

2. It’s Very Humbling

It’s very easy to see how we have, in many ways, been disillusioned by instagram and other social media platforms.

A single scroll across our timeline — or a simple glance at the featured page will connect you to the profiles of high-income CEO’s, influencers, and self-help gurus who are able to generate a fortune solely as a result of the substantial web traffic they attract.

Although the ubiquity of these images makes such lifestyles appear to be the norm across society, the reality is that very few people actually get to live this way.

Most jobs aren’t designed to stoke within us a passion that will sustain itself over the long haul. In fact, many jobs will inevitably drive us mad or push us to the very limits of how much responsibility we can adequately juggle.

A 9–5 job will humble you in ways you cannot begin to imagine.

In the 9–5 world, no matter what your job title may say, there will always be people above and below your status level who will routinely push your boundaries

This rings particularly true in customer service situations.

As a manger, I quickly realized I was not above getting yelled at or disrespected by customers, fellow co-workers, or the likes of my superiors.

I had to realize that no matter how much upward mobility you may achieve in your work-life, you’re never devoid of responsibility — and you can never place yourself above being willing to work for a living.

The next time you may be worrying over having a 9–5 job, remember that there are millions of people in this country and abroad who would kill to even have a job in the first place. A little perspective on the matter can go a long way.

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Photo by Maxime Agnelli on Unsplash

3. It Teaches You What a Real Work Ethic Looks Like

For all of the respect and admiration we give towards people who have followed their passion — and have achieved massive success because of it — it could be argued that the same amount of grace is often not similarly extended to the likes of blue-collar, working class people.

Society as whole has not done a good job of highlighting the importance of a good work ethic.

Everyday we are inundated with images of people who have constructed a jarring and rapid form of overnight success that mystifies the media.

In a culture where success, fame, and endless fortune is often just a few clicks away on the internet—very rarely do we take a moment to celebrate the success of hard working people whose sole values are that of persistence and integrity.

In a 9–5 environment, hard work is the expectation, not the exception.

There are no shortcuts to success, as it requires a consistent level of discipline and commitment towards a common goal.

A 9–5 job will do a better job of preparing you for the real world than any passion project or dream job ever could.

In my 9–5 job, I was exposed to every different kind of roadblock that one will most likely encounter in their professional life span.

Among the roadblocks encountered were instances of toxic office politics, racism, discrimination, and slew of unethical/borderline illegal operating procedures plaguing our work environment.

Although I won’t romanticize this experience, as anyone who has ever found themselves in a toxic work environment knows there very few if any redeeming factors to be found in its aftermath, I will say that it helped me harden myself as a professional.

It made me realize that not only is life not fair, but depending on who you are as a person (social class, ethnicity, gender), it can prove all the more difficult to succeed.

Had I never worked my 9–5 job, I would have never been able to brace myself for the journey ahead; I would have never developed the business/interpersonal skills that are required to succeed in the working world.

I don’t regret my experience, and if given the chance, I would probably do it all again truth be told.

There are some lessons in life you can only learn through experiencing them first hand — learning how to cultivate a proper work ethic happens to be one of them.

With all this talk of “quitting your job in order to live the life you’ve always wanted,” it can be tempting to forego your responsibilities and quickly put in your two-weeks notice.

If you happen to be living the 9–5 lifestyle at the moment, use it as a learning opportunity for growth — and as means of establishing a firm nest egg which could be saved save for your future business ventures.

Quitting your job abruptly may sound good on paper, but it is rarely if ever the right thing to do — especially if your financial responsibilities are not covered by your side hustle.

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A.J. Deveaux

Written by

Freelance writer, college student, professional overthinker. I strive to craft stories that are thought provoking and meaningful. B.A. Psychology (halfway done)

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +733K people. Follow to join our community.

A.J. Deveaux

Written by

Freelance writer, college student, professional overthinker. I strive to craft stories that are thought provoking and meaningful. B.A. Psychology (halfway done)

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +733K people. Follow to join our community.

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