Some Australians (those as old as me), will be able to remember ‘Kingswood Country’ – a sitcom that ran for a few seasons and was quite popular.
It was about a family – the father was called Ted. Ted was a fairly crass and insensitive character. When Ted had a difficulty with something he often voiced the view, “Somebody ought to blow up [whatever he was having a difficulty with]”.
[Funniest line I remember from the show. Ted’s wife Thelma was sick with a cold. When Ted gets up in the morning a house guest enquires, “And how’s Thelma feel this morning Ted?” Ted’s reply, “Uh, soft and rubbery as usual”.]
This is how I’m feeling at the moment, “Somebody ought to blow up full time work!”!
For the last year I’ve been working both a full-time and a part-time job. This hasn’t lead to any major disasters or had a terribly negative impact – but it is a long way from what I would prefer. I would have like to spend much more time exploring qi gong, going for walks, spending time with my partner, preparing nice meals . . . the list is long.
Most people I know value the time they spend with their family and loved ones. Most people I know spend most of their time away from those they love, doing what they don’t particularly enjoy.
There are other costs too: Time spent commuting, the price of clothes, possibly eating not as well as at home.
Full-time work just seems like a rotten way to organise our lives.
A Sign of Hope
The ‘downshifting’ phenomenon seems to mean that many people are deciding that full-time work and other aspects of a consumerist lifestyle are not how they want to live. A survey of this downshifting phenomenon in Australia found that in a five year period 25% of people had voluntarily reduced their lifestyle (this excluded those who had retired or returned to study). This amounts to a huge social movement – which has (for the large part) been resolutely ignored by the media and politicians.
What to do?
In Australia (where the price of renting and buying a house is very high) most people work full-time to buy a house. (And as the affordability of housing continues to decline it will increasingly mean both partners working full time.)
It’s likely that giving up full-time work means giving up hopes of owning a house – in a major metropolitan centre anyway.
Another kind of trade-off is reducing your lifestyle to a lower income. Usually this means getting rid of the car. (This is very difficult to do with young children I think; especially in developer built suburbia where shops and services usually aren’t within walking distance.) Other things it can mean: changing the kind of entertainment to spending time with people at homes and in public rather than going out to eat or be entertained. Making and taking food places instead of buying it at a destination. Making and taking lunch to work. Walking each day instead of a gym membership. Buying and cooking ingredients instead of heating pre-packaged food.
Working from home
Some kinds of work can be done from home. Even if you spend as much time working you will stay save the time commuting and perhaps be able to eat lunch with friends and family. This does require being able to set boundaries and not work all the time (if you like others to maintain boundaries for you then you may end up working more hours than you did going out to work.)
Your own business
If you have the ability to sell then you have an advantage. Any one with their own business needs to sell. This means either finding other people’s stuff to sell or making your own stuff to sell.
At the moment it is relatively cheap, quick and easy to see if you could have your own business. The costs of entry for an online business are tiny compared to bricks and mortar businesses. This depends on the kind of business – you can’t do a massage online. If it is a hands-on business you can usually start trying it out with friends – be sure to ask for an honest answer about how much they would pay (figure out a way for them to do it anonymously – such as giving them a self-addressed envelope with a feedback form – if you need to).
If you want to try your own business, make sure you plan one that can be done part-time. Think about if you are prepared to be on call a lot to build clientele in the early days. Think about how you will cut this back as you go. Think about if the business could involve you working enjoyably together with those you love.
Not working = doing what you love
Can you find someone to pay you to do what you love (an employer or a customer)? If so then this can do away with a lot of the unpleasantness of full-time work.
These are my thoughts. What are your thoughts on full-time work? A necessary evil? A valuable necessity? I’d like to hear how you have responded to full-time work? Avoided it? Embraced it? Found ways to cope with it? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments.
Would you like to feel less stressed?
Could you do with more joy in your life?
The answer is living authentically. Buy the book or sign up for the course now from my Living Authentically website.
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