To be a mercenary is to serve the call of the highest bidder. A mercenary has no loyalty except to himself or herself. A mercenary lives for the paycheck and doesn’t usually care what has to be done in order to receive that paycheck. A mercenary isn’t known for loyalty. Once the payment has been received, he or she can join the opposing force.
To be mercenary is something else entirely. For instance, you “have to be mercenary with your time” carries a different connotation than you “have to be a mercenary.” To be mercenary with your time means that you do nothing else until you have completed whatever task you meant to accomplish during an allotted time frame. You turn off the telephone. You disconnect the internet. You refuse to answer the door. You remove any and all distractions. You then hide in your favorite cave and do not emerge until the work has been done.
It is then, and only then, that you can play. You can visit with the next-door neighbor. You can go for a walk. You can dilly-dally on the internet. You can do whatever you please once you have completed whatever assignment you have set for yourself. You can do so because you have been mercenary with your time and projects, and you will be mercenary with it tomorrow and the next day and the one following that.
Photo: Alex Lomix (CC BY-NC 2.0)