Average Joes are Never Rewarded

Average JoesI like to work harder than the average Joe when it comes to getting my stuff done. I double majored, triple minored, took 2 jobs throughout college, and joined a mentorship program to mentor underclassmen transitioning into college. My summers were spent in internships and working out, making sure that the dreaded Sarcopenia doesn’t hit me in my 30s and beyond as extensively as someone who hasn’t been physically active.

Everyone wants and has the will to win, but not everyone puts in the preparation and work that’s needed to actually win. Winners aren’t born, winners are made.  

Is it Hard to Over-Prepare?

The thing about over-preparing, the very definition is to put in more effort than another. If you’re not in a competition with others then assume you’re competing against yourself and put in more effort in than you normally would have. The beauty about effort is that it’s not hard or complicated.

It’s putting in more hours than the next person. It’s not hard to stay an hour later than the next person. It may be tiresome, annoying, or just plain out something that a person may not want to do, but it’s not hard to put in the extra hour.

You may be asking “What’s an extra hour going to do?” and in the short term, it’s probably not going to make a significant impact. However, one hour extra a day is 260 hours (52 weeks * 5 hours extra) over the year. I’m a firm believer in the 10,000 hour rule, which states that to be the best at something, it requires 10,000 hours to be comfortable doing so. The idea is by Malcolm Gladwell.

Why Under-preparing Doesn’t Work

It’s better to be over-prepare for everything that you do that could put yourself up for success, such as a presentation, job interview, etc. I would always be wowed by people who have natural talent and say “I accomplished this with the minimal amount of effort.” Because I was so impressed, I changed my behavior and would try to figure out how to optimize my time to do the least and get the most.

This is exactly like timing the market. You will have no idea exactly how long an activity would take to complete and by trying to optimize (i.e. timing the market to try to get the most returns) your time and put in the minimum amount of effort, results could suffer. If you get it right, you will have fantastic efficiency, but just like timing, you never know. Never sacrifice results for efficiency.

Over-Preparing is a Natural Hedge to Being Fired

GE was famous for its use of “rank and yank” where the bottom employees got fired and the cycle repeated. I personally wouldn’t thrive in this pressure-filled type of environment but I am pretty sure my boss is watching my every move in terms of work performance and seeing if I deserve to be with the company in the next year. The pressure exists whether I like it or not.

This looks good!


Doing things half-hearted and half-willed is not going to make my boss recommend me to not be fired or be promoted for that matter. The ones who perform (and I’m talking all around performance, office politics, job functions, and revenue generation) are the ones who get awarded the carrot, more often than not.

Yes, it’s surprising that office politics have to be there but it’s necessary. A professor once told me “you don’t want to play office politics? Good, leave it to others who want to get ahead play it.” I didn’t want to play it because of my ego, I felt that I didn’t need to play office politics and that only my direct performance with the job will matter but I am wrong. I can’t let my ego get in the way of my goals so I quickly changed my view as soon as my professor said that.

Over-Preparing is Everywhere

Why go through a presentation after putting the PowerPoint slides together at the last minute? For naturally good presenters and talkers, it might be easy to get away with it in the short term. However, the higher up the good presenter goes, the easier it is for management to figure out if he or she actually knows the material.

In the short term, it’s very easy to get away by giving off the impression of knowledge by talking greatly in length. In the long term, it’s very easy to get penalized by giving off the wrong impression. The more involved senior management is in the project, the harder it will be to BS.

Why only put in 5-10% into a 401k for retirement? Will the government will take care of elders through Social Security? What if they suddenly change the laws canceling it? I wouldn’t be dependent on the government for money, especially when baby boomers these days are going to take all of the social security funds.

It wouldn’t be smart to under-prepare for something that could make the difference between living comfortable and not after putting in 40 years worth of sweat, frustration, and stress. Yes, it could mean less frequent trips to the bar but does going out doesn’t add too much utility. I don’t think drinking, eating unhealthy food, or adding to the money stress is worth it.

Readers, what do you think about over-preparing? Do you put in the work in order to succeed?

Finance Solver

I grew my net worth to $40,000 as a college student through hard work, discipline, and a little bit of luck. I graduated college in 2016 and will be starting to plan for my retirement once I start working.I am planning on reaching financial independence by my early 30's and I will document my moments of inspiration all the way to desperation here.

My goal is to enable your success in personal finance so that you can realize the American dream. The first step is starting today!

Read more about me here.

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16 thoughts on “Average Joes are Never Rewarded

  1. If you want to get better results than the average person, you need to put in more effort (smarter and more effort) to get better results. Just rocking up for a 9-5 just won’t cut it!

    You’re exactly right about everything you say. I’m in a decent paid job now, but I want to achieve more. So I try to do more in my job. I’m doing further education. We’re trying to make the blog successful. Hopefully at least one or more of these will turn us from average into extraordinary 🙂

    Just do our best, and strive. You’ll get a hell of a lot closer to where you want to be than just sitting on your ass not doing anything.


    • Yep! If someone does a 9-5, it’s a smart idea to look for passive income opportunities. My company doesn’t let me work past 5, so I’m constantly looking for extra income opportunities.
      I think that you are doing remarkably and have a great mindset to reach success, the key thing is differentiation these days!
      I agree, the thought of not being successful has been a significant motivator for me to never be behind and get ahead when I can. I just can’t wait until 10 years from now to see my work hopefully pay off!

  2. Being over prepared is the only way to go! While I’m not a huge fan of office politics, I think going the extra mile to make you (and your boss) look good does wonders.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Finance Solver says:

      Yes it is! I’m not a huge fan of office politics either, but I know that it’s a necessity. For me personally, I didn’t want to play office politics because I felt that my actual work mattered more. I’m not sure if I’ll be proven right or wrong but only time can tell.
      No problem!

  3. Don’t sit back and let life pass you by.
    People need to chase financial freedom not just expect it to happen for them without solid preparation.
    Nice post!
    Thanks 🙂

  4. Interesting post! I would classify myself as an “over-preparer”. While it often leads to success (at least at some point – sometimes it takes a while), I sometimes think I go over board here.

    It’s funny you mention over-preparing as a hedge for being fired. My husband’s company is actually moving toward a system that supports the top performers and puts the bottom performers at risk of being fired (all based on performance reviews, which seems too subjective in my opinion).

    • Finance Solver says:

      Over-preparing is a great way to go! I sometimes regret the extra time that I spent but always come back that I had no idea how the results would have came out so it is not wasted time at all.

      Rank and yank system! It seems so subjective because the decision makers might not understand why they are making the ranking decision in the first place. Having a boss who likes you significantly helps in my opinion and the funny thing is, they will never know that they are recommending someone because they like the person. The power of human emotions is endless!

  5. I’m a big fan of over-preparing. I’m not a great presenter or speaker, but when I over-prepare for podcast appearances, presentations, etc. it helps me feel more comfortable. When we talk about over-preparing in every aspect of our lives it becomes a bigger issue. At some point you need to prioritize what you spend time on or you may miss out on opportunities. I could “over-prepare” my blog in every way, but it would mean having to say no to other opportunities.

    • Finance Solver says:

      Me too, I took a public speaking course so I don’t get as nervous as before but I still feel my nerves shoot up a little bit when I go up front of the room and speak. Great point about over-preparing in every aspect of our lives, I meant that it’s better to over-prepare on everything that could put yourself up for success. The little things like preparing for bed isn’t all too necessary, thanks for pointing that out, I just changed it!

  6. Over-preparing is definitely better. I’ve been on both sides of the fence professionally and being underprepared (& over prideful) closed some doors for me when I was just getting started.

    I also agree with the 10,000 hour rule. At my previous job, it was about this mark that I started feeling comfortable with the operation and it was also about that same time when I was promoted and given more responsibility.

    • Finance Solver says:

      Yes! Same here, I let my hubris be my setback. I believe that pride is the enemy of success and I have to make sure to be humble and put in the work just like everybody else. I thought I was special but I am not.

      That’s awesome! I’m going to detail in a future post (stay tuned) why I believe 10,000 hour rule really works.

  7. Jacq says:

    Be careful with working that ‘extra ‘ hour, especially if your are salaried. While it totally depends on management there are 2 possible scenarios. In the first management is oblivious to your hours worked and assume it is all being done in 40 hours a week, if it is really taking 45 or 60, when they add more or new work or one special project it can take its toll. You are also dropping your hourly rate if you are salaried. The second possibility is if you take the extra time, your boss may doubt you can do it in the time allotted. The coworker I share a cube with would take 4+ days to review a document it takes me an hour to do. Management realized it wasn’t working & he is in a different group, but some places aren’t as kind. The third scenario is the boss views it as going above and beyond and is pleased. We can rarely know what someone else is thinking, and it may not be your direct management, but several steps above. Some would rather their employees leave at 5 so they can assume time is spent with family not logging back in later.

    • Finance Solver says:

      I understand your point. Right now, I can’t work an extra hour or anything else because I’m paid hourly and they will probably fire me if I work an extra hour or anything. Also yes, it’s not the optimal solution but workers these days need to self-promote so that managers actually know the amount of work that you are doing. Hourly rate might go down but if done correctly, management starts to take notice and give you more work and if they’re smart, they’ll pay you more to keep you around longer.

      Also, I think working 40+ hours is crucial to being rich. When I say 40+ hours I don’t mean just putting in more hours in the office but also in side income projects, freelancing work or otherwise to get that extra income. I don’t know anyone who’s successful that only put in only 40 hours of work!

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