Can you live a happy, full life and still own a diesel repair shop?

When they were cast out of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were commanded to work for their food. Why? They couldn’t live in the garden anymore, so they couldn’t live off it either.

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Genesis 3:19)

So if they wanted food, shelter, and the now-required clothing, they had to learn how to work. And fast. They literally had to sweat for bread.

Most of us are in the same boat. We have to work for our own necessities, and if we’re lucky, to support a family. And research shows that to the extent money covers our needs, it does actually enable happiness. But the connection pretty much ends there. Beyond covering needs, there is almost no correlation between income level and happiness.

David Myers, author of The Pursuit of Happiness, writes:

We humans need food, rest, warmth and social contact. For starving sudanese and homeless Iraqis, money would buy more happiness. But having more than enough provides little additional boost to well being…. Once we’re comfortable, more money therefore provides diminishing returns…. The correlation between income and happiness is modest, and in both the U.S. and Canada has now dropped to near zero.

So if money doesn’t buy happiness, where do we go for it?  Myers continues: (emphasis added)

Income also doesn’t noticeably influence satisfaction with marriage, family, friendship or ourselves–all of which do predict a sense of well being.

In other words, once our needs are met, if we want more happiness we need to turn to improving our marriage, family, friendships, or ourselves. We must have a life outside of work and be a balanced person.  And what’s ironic is that once we find that happiness, we will be more productive at work. Research shows a strong link. That means while money won’t buy you happiness, happiness can help you make more money.

Remember Why You Got Into Diesel Repair

Don’t lose sight of why you got into this business. It’s a key to finding happiness. If you’re becoming disconnected from what used to anchor you, reconnect. Did you like working with your hands? Did you enjoy the sense of satisfaction in a job well done? What drove you to start your own shop? It probably wasn’t the money, because most businesses that start out with no other goal but to get rich fail quickly.  You had to start out wanting to make a difference, to do things you couldn’t do working for someone else.

Once you own a diesel repair shop it can become very lucrative. Making money becomes easier, so it’s easy to forget what originally got you into it. The demands of the shop and the desire to make more money can suck you in and consume your life. Many owners get so caught up in running their shop that the shop ends up running them. They tire, burn out, and die earlier than they should. What kind of a life is that?

Remember why you wanted to own a diesel repair shop in the first place. If it was right then, it’s probably still the right thing. Regain the vision of what got you started, then ground yourself by investing in a good marriage, having children, being a good friend, and taking care of yourself.

Invest in a Marriage

Get married. Be picky, but find that match and make the commitment. Just like Adam and Eve, we were meant to face the challenges of life with a partner. Then once you’re married, invest the time and energy — physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual–necessary to make it a good one. That may mean spending less time at the shop, and maybe billing fewer hours. But if your needs are already met, what’s the point anyway? Marriage will bring you happiness, not a number in your bank account.

Have Children

There is an inverse relationship between wealth and children. The more wealthy a nation, the fewer children it has. What that means is that in wealthier countries, people aren’t having kids anymore. Go against the trend. Raising children can bring you immense happiness, and renew you spiritually. They say the future belongs to those who show up. You show up by having kids and raising them right. If you want to be happy, and you and your wife are blessed enough to be fertile, don’t let the demands of your shop stand in the way of having kids.

Be a good friend

Friendship is always a two-way street. To have great friends, you need to be a great friend. Learn the delicate dance of friendship.

Take care of yourself

Too many shop owners burn themselves out running their diesel repair business. Take care of yourself in all dimensions of life — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.


Your physical condition is the foundation of all your energy. It’s an interplay between glucose and oxygen. Sign up for a 5K or join a CrossFit gym. Get into a regular exercise routine. Quit smoking. Give your body the fuel it craves by shaping up your diet. Eat lots of vegetables and lean meats. Take an inventory of your physical appearance. If you have too much fat, push yourself to get rid of it.


When was the last time you read a book? Is there a smarter way you can run your shop, where you could do more faster, freeing up time to have a life outside the shop? The brain is an amazing organ. Unlike all other organs it is able to get sharper the older you get. Never stop learning.


Every day you only have so much energy to spend. Do you waste it on negative emotions? Or do you invest it in good experiences with the important people in your life? Do you “seek first to understand, then to be understood”? Remember that kindness matters, and that which we cast out, will eventually come back to us.


It doesn’t matter if you’re a religious person, we all have a spiritual side. It means connecting to a deeply-held set of values, and to some purpose outside ourselves. People who live lives of passion, honesty, and integrity are well connected to their spiritual side. Read inspirational books, listen to good music. Better yet, devote time and energy to your children and in service to others. Figure out what you value, then live it.

If You Own a Diesel Repair Shop, Remember This

Can you live a happy, full life and own a diesel repair shop? Absolutely. Just remember why you got into the business. Money only brings us happiness up to a point. Once our needs are met, our primary source of happiness comes from our relationships with others and improving ourselves. Do what it takes to get your work done faster, then get out of the shop and have a life.