When I was in the Navy, I was what people would call a liberty hound. Liberty is time away from work (the Navy has terms for everything, even down to normal clothes). So a liberty hound is someone who will leave work as early and as often as legally possible to spend time outside of the ship.
Although I smile upon reflection, I also remember I always struggled with this term.
Sure, I spent a lot of my free time in the Navy traveling, camping, and climbing mountains, but I always felt guilty about the connotation of being a liberty hound. To work longer hours than you needed to and to have others tell you it was time to leave work already were celebrated in the Navy. Unless you were giving more and doing more with no expectation of something in return, you simply weren’t doing it right.
There would be days where I would leave the ship, and the entire 5-10 minute journey (the ship can be like a building), would be fraught with must-be-nices.
As I was picking up my things in my stateroom, my roommate would glare at me and go, “Must be nice.”
As I walked down the passageway (hallway) or ladderwell (stairs), I’d run into multiple people who would smirk and comment, “Must be nice.”
And of course, upon leaving the ship, as I saluted the ensign and made my official declaration that I was leaving, someone standing watch or lingering in the area would go, “Must be nice.”
What’s interesting about this phrase is that it isn’t unique to the Navy or the military for that matter.
Whenever you choose to live life on your own terms, especially when you’re going against the grain, the gut reaction from most people is, “Must be nice.”
It used to bother me. I always felt like my competence and willingness to work hard were undermined by these three words. I always felt the need to prove myself or justify, at least in my head, why it was acceptable for me to leave work while the sun was still out.
As a gym owner and entrepreneur, I have battled this same reaction.
In other blog posts, I make no qualms about the fact that everything I do in my life revolves around greater freedom: greater financial freedom, emotional freedom, and time freedom.
Once a liberty hound, always a liberty hound. 🙂
Because of that, I have worked hard with Lee to create a gym where we have staff and systems in place that prevent us from doing and being responsible for everything at the gym. I fundamentally understand that a gym where I am coaching 90% of classes, cleaning everything, paying the utilities, and updating the website is probably the least effective gym in America, let alone the least pleasant (I’d be a bigger grouch than normal).
We’ve created a gym where we do not have to come in on some days, if we don’t need to be there. We both coach a few classes throughout the week, but by no means do we front the lion’s share of the schedule. We have hired staff that help us with a lot of the work around the gym, which frees up a lot of our time, to either ENJOY it or to discuss how to attack the next pet project we have on the list. We understand our strengths and more importantly, our weaknesses, and we find creative ways to deal with them.
Sometimes I’ll get a whiff of “Must be nice” from people. Must be nice to:
- Not be stuck at a job from 9-5 every day
- Not be a “weekend warrior”
- Have the flexibility to take vacations
- Have other people help you
- Make mind-boggling declarations like, “I love my life”
- Not be constantly tired
- Not be busy for busy’s sake
- Not be negative
It is nice.
I could spend an entire blog post attempting to justify how we earned the lives we have, but the bottom line is that I don’t really care to anymore. We worked hard for it and created the gym to be the way we always envisioned it being. I no longer feel a sense of guilt about having created a life I love. I feel pride!
Here’s another thing: if people around you, whether it’s your family, friends, gym members, or others, think your life is “easy,” guess what?
You’re doing everything right.
Because there’s nothing about being a gym owner or entrepreneur that is easy. Convincing people to pay you for a service day in, day out, is never easy. Dealing with people who don’t believe in what you’re doing is never easy.
This is way harder in so many ways than it used to be, clocking in my time for a fat paycheck every two weeks. But it IS fulfilling!
And if people think what you do is easy, that’s because you make it look easy. And it’s also because you have the maturity and grace to not complain to those around you when the going gets tough, which it inevitably does and very often.
You’re doing it right.
So when someone comments about your life, “Must be nice.”
Smile knowingly, and tell them, “Oh, it is.”