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5 Ideas You Need to Rise From Poverty to the Middle Class

Hard Work ≠ Success

2) Live Intentionally

This one is increasingly difficult in our modern world. Distractions and time wasters lurk as close as your smartphone and summon with the persistence of an always-on internet connection. Hours can disappear, utterly wasted, if we fail to keep time in check.

On any given day, I commonly forget why I logged into Facebook. Maybe it was to check the status of an event. Maybe it was to continue a conversation. Maybe it was to post a link or upload a photo. Whatever the original intent, random notifications, tailored ads, or pop-up chats frequently derail my train of thought. What? An hour has gone by? How did that happen? Regardless, I’m never getting it back.

On the spectrum of sexy, “time management” falls somewhere between estate planning and bed pans. Yet the ability and willingness to effectively direct our attention can have a profound effect upon our physical, mental, and financial well-being.

We commonly say that we are busy, that we do not have time, or that there aren’t enough hours in the day. However, we more likely have plenty of time that we choose to prioritize in habitual ways. While there is certainly nothing wrong with routine, an occasional evaluation of how our time is spent and why is extremely healthy.

Without intention, without an agenda for the day, time can easily sift through our fingers as we drift aimlessly down a path of least resistance. Such days are sometimes necessary, and take on the intentional purpose of rest and relaxation. However, life should not be an endless string of such days. Proverbs 10:4 puts it simply:

A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Laziness might be defined by a lack of intention, living life by luck and lottery. Most of us have a respectable work ethic in certain contexts. We do our job while on the clock. We take care of our children. We maintain our home. Yet, too often that ethic goes unapplied to the overall direction of our life. We plug away, living from check to check, enjoying feast and riding out famine, waiting for our proverbial ship to come in. Foroohar identifies the problem:

The mythology of the American Dream has made it difficult to start a serious conversation about how to create more opportunity in our society, since many of us still believe that our mobility is the result of our elbow grease and nothing more.

The author goes on to make a case for government activism. However, spending tax dollars to subsidize poverty will not end it. Elbow grease commands respect. However, it must be the right work for the right purpose managed in the right way. Hard work applied to an unproductive process is an unconscionable waste.

It is not enough to pat ourselves on the back for a particular job well done. We have to make sure the fruit of our labor is managed toward a larger goal. Otherwise, we can expect perpetual check to check living.