I’ve long hated the concept of ‘going to work’. The routine, the set hours and the horror of being told when it was acceptable to take a break, a holiday, didn’t ever sit well with me, even from an early age.
As soon as I was legally able to go and get a job I have been working. The feeling of earning my own money was a good motivator and it still is to a point. I’ve never begrudged our requirement to be part of making the world turn. That is what we’re here for. But the system of work – how it is set up, what you need to endure sometimes to be given money in exchange for your time and skill – has never sat well with me. Particularly when you consider those who struggle on minimum wages sometimes with the commentary of others caught in their own ego trap that ‘these people just don’t work hard enough so they never get ahead’.
I did the salary for a while, trying to work out what I wanted to do until it all imploded and I saw a lifetime of 9 to 5 (which is now 8 until the cleaners turn up and you have to leave). No thanks. Umbrella in hand, waving goodbye to shocked control freak of a boss, I left to start work as a free agent. Best. Thing. I. Ever. Did. It doesn’t mean I’m lazy. It just means I work to the beat of a different drum.
I usually spend the first part of my day working from bed; writing, planning, drafting, meditating. These all form the foundation for a successful and productive day. It takes all kinds I suppose. Bottom line – it works for me. I’ve designed my life to enable me to do this. It’s taken a lot of time and effort but it has been well worth it.
I wrote an article back in 2014 which I posted on my LinkedIn feed. Titled, ‘So you’re not up at 5am to work? What is wrong with you? Nothing’, it created quite a stir as it questioned the status quo of getting up every morning just to put more and more effort into mastering the cultdom of corporate life. It was my own personal backlash that made me write it and it went viral. I wanted to let people know that I wasn’t like that and couldn’t perform under those conditions. And you know what? There are thousands of people out there who were so relieved to hear they weren’t the only ones.
Emails came flooding in thanking me, mostly, for letting them know they weren’t lazy or shameful for feeling different. They thanked me for telling me it was ok to see the world in an alternative way. This was the thing. As people we function differently, performing better in certain conditions, able to produce when we’ve slept long hours or commence our work late at night. But there were the trolls and their assumptions. The best one from a man telling me I was a twenty-something who should get a job. I was quite chuffed to tell him I was in my mid-forties and the master of my own ship. But that is not the point of this article.
How we work has changed. Technology has seen us working across geographical time zones and delivered solutions for communicating, sharing and putting plans into action. Our population has put a premium on jobs, as has the use of artificial intelligence and tech, replacing humans with machines. The concept of the side hustle, the portfolio job or Tim Ferriss’ ‘4 Hour Work Week’ are very much part of our modern working culture. Yet our systems, our culture, our processes with dealing with these changes, as well as our difficulty with busting out of the mould aren’t keeping up. Working remotely is something management can have trouble with (maybe it’s a generational thing). Flexible hours or set times is another. They certainly don’t have an issue with allowing fewer people to do more of the work. Think overtime that isn’t paid but working extra hours and over the weekend accepted as normal behaviour within many roles. Because if you don’t toe the line, someone else will and they will be given the job. Seriously?
I love it when people say to me how much they love their job. I hug them. It means that there are humans who are spending most of their waking life satisfied and motivated to do well in their chosen profession. I just can’t find enough of them to embrace.
No one ever laid on their death bed saying, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’ Potentially we all get a second life now that we are living longer. The opportunity to have multiple careers is not just a frivolous dream but often a must. It requires us to think long-term about what we can offer the world through our working contribution.
So, what am I telling my kids? My thirteen-year-old whines to me about the hardship of school and how it makes her tired. ‘Wait until you get to go to work,’ I say. ‘You better get a business going now so you can find your niche and turn your work to play,’ I suggest. Because it is possible to make your work your play. Even if you are working for the world’s biggest corporation, if you love what you do the ‘getting up and heading in’ will always put a motivational fire in your belly.
But ask yourself if you really enjoy spending your days, or nights, or however you work, doing what you are doing now. Or is it time to begin to transition into something else? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Simply that you will start to take the steps towards shifting your interests, skills and network so that find yourself in work that is meaningful to you, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
The emphasis has always been on getting ‘the job’, but I believe there should be more focus on leaving the job when it no longer serves us. We never do well when we are depleted or unhappy as human beings and besides personal relationships, work is the guiltiest past time for cultivating this type of feeling within us. Ask yourself now how your job is serving you and if it’s not, commit the time to get yourself into something that is more nourishing and rewarding. Life is for the living. Maybe it’s time to do a bit of that.