The recent weeks was a busy time at work. There was plenty to do, “challenges” to be met, hurdles to be overcome and victories to win. In fact it was a state that many people would call “having fun at work”.
And, even for a skeptical person (especially when it comes to employed work) as Woodpecker is, I admit there were quite many days in a row where I looked forward getting to the office in the morning.
This is great and it should be like that.
However, one should not confuse “having fun at work” with “having a really good time”.
Some people might come up to you and tell you outright they’d love their work. They’d never share your downshifting or early retirement ideas, because, hey, without a job, something would be missing in life, wouldn’t it?
I say: No, nothing would be missing.
This became clear to me once more this weekend. I exited the thread-mill for this year on Wednesday and the Woodpecker clan immediately retreated to the little mountain apartment we frequently visit close to Munich (great deal at 35 EUR per night, whole family of four).
First day I was still occupied with all the “important” things going on at work, even dreamt of the stuff. Next day pretty much the same.
But then nature, fresh air, sunshine, a healthy pack of family fun, outdoor action and idling did its work and all the “importance” of the job issues melted away like snow in the sun to give way to the natural feeling for what is really important in life:
Living. And not working.
However nice a job can be from time to time, being free, having time at your command, be your own master, is still the far more better and natural choice.
I mean, there are many people who advocate they love their job and love to work, but sorry, I don’t get it. I mean, finding your job “ok” is a fantastic fate already. I am happy to say so myself, but I even belief that 75% do not come up to this luxury and outright hate to work in their employed job.
There may be very few lucky people who really love their jobs, but for most of the people who say so I guess they merely pretend loving their jobs in front of themselves and in front of others to avoid the nagging question why they give up so much for it and for their careers. Or they actually do not love the job, but the money, the power or the fact that they are busy and distracted from more complicated thoughts. Or they just never seriously tried without a job, so they don’t know what they are missing.
Just do the test for yourself:
If you’d have the chance to sacrifice one week of your holiday to work instead (no extra money involved), would you do it? No? So how can you say you love your job, then?
Or other way round:
You are offered to be one additional week off the job (same pay, no disadvantages, no one disagreeing). You would go for it?
Well, if people would love their jobs, why would 99% opt for free time in both cases?
Let’s see why having free time at your disposal, and being off from work is so much more enjoyable than grinding away in the office, no matter how nice your job there might be.
For that sake let’s compare different aspects of life and how you will experience them in free time and during your time in the tread-mill. And let’s see what the propaganda of the corporate is trying to sell you (this is insightful, because as most propaganda this is rarely your own interest, but mostly the interest of the seller).
Yes, yes, there are this and that jobs out there. And yes, in some companies and some jobs some of the points will look less bleak. Anyway, as I feel in the mood for a little ranting today, I will emphasize and pinpoint my bullets here. I firmly belief there is a lot of truth to them in any case.
|Free time, human nature||In the tread-mill||What corporate propaganda will tell you|
|Speed of living||You speed up when you and your body feel to. You relax and hang out whenever you wish.||You have to speed up and stress yourself whenever your boss or “the market” tells you.
You get your bore-out if supply of work is limited but you are still forced to sit your hours at the office.
|Stress is good for you, it is a “challenge” (this is the cheap carrot). The market demands constant fast pace, or the company will decline (this is the hidden thread)|
|Idling||Idling, doing nothing, relaxing, dreaming, all are parts of human nature. If you are really free you choose to do so whenever you want.||Yes, there might be idle times at work. However, it is not relaxing, because in a typical company, you must always look busy. Looking busy in turn creates stress even if you do nothing.||Idleing is a total no-go. Instead you always should do the “extra mile”. Whereever that leads you.|
|Time||Being really free, you need no watch. You simply life by your body clock.||Schedule and diaries are all! Turn off your body clock and surrender to the tact.|
|Social contact||You choose whom you like and whom you spend time with. If you don’t feel like having a fight, you can mostly avoid it. You can be as altruistic and peaceful as you wish.||You cannot choose your boss or co-workers. Some or even most of them might be ok, but there is no way to avoid frequent discussions, politics, competition, even fights.||Competition and egoism is healthy. Status and career are everything, as they mirror your value as a person. Enter the ring to move up!|
|Peace of mind / occupation with money||If you are free, money and promotions are only means. The real thing you are looking for is peace of mind, personal growth, harmony etc.||Occupation with money and career will be all around you. It’s difficult not to compare to other employee’s salary, status etc. You will look weird if you talk too openly about downshifting etc.||Growth equals growth of the balance sheet, of income, of money created. Not your personal growth. Your personal growth is only interesting if it helps to grow money in a second step. God beware should your personal growth hampers your availability to the company.|
|Travelling / Vacation||Travelling , seeing new things, are there to expand your horizon, not because you need relaxation.||Many employees will have to waste away their free time on a beach as they are so in need of relaxation.||Vacation and travelling is merely a means to make you more productive, to “recharge your battery”, not for you to have fun.|
|Creativity||You can be creative, do and try things you find interesting, without any need for an “outcome” or “efficiency”.||Most of the time, creativity is not wanted but efficiency and specialization is what the company needs. If creativity is wanted, then in a very narrow way, always with the ultimate goal of “more profit”.||Doublespeak: The slogan will say: “we look for lateral thinkers and creative minds”. Once you hired up in most cases you will see that real lateral thinking is the last the corporate wants.|
|Family||One of the greatest things in life. But you need a lot of time to enjoy it.||Whatever companies say, family is seen as a competitor for your time (which in fact it is). Therefore, companies do not like you to have a family. It will slow your career etc. massively, especially if you decide to give it priority.||Companies say they are family friendly. In fact, mostly they only subsidize you coming back to work as early and as long as possible. Understand that ultimately this is out of self-interest.|
|Purpose||You can and will do a lot of things that have no economic value. Self-interest plays a small role with really free people. Altruism increases.||A capitalistic organization is obviously not about altruism.||Ultimately most things done will be of egoistic motives of individuals or groups. And if not, soon a consultant will come in and try to change that.|
|Meeting people||The world is full of people. Go out and be open, you will meet plenty.||Yes, you can meet new people at work. However, if people think this is the only place to get to know people they suffer either (a) of too little free time or (b) of a lack of fantasy||“A great place to meet interesting people” (really?!)|
|Freedom||REAL freedom can make you feel relaxed and happy in a way you never thought possible. Most people do not remember anymore how real freedom feels. Speaking from own experience, you need an extended voluntary break to make that experience (I’d recommend two or three months minimum)||No real freedom possible as an employee. And rarely as a self-employed worker, too.|
|Money||Passive income is the way to combine free time and continuing cash-flow. Unfortunately, you have to build a stash first. To build this, you have to live frugal.||The best thing about a job: It can provide you with lots of money. Your goal while being in there is to make as much as possible in a time as short as possible with as little stress and effort as possible.||Money is great. But you shall spend it imediatelly… (…and thus stay bound to your employer…)|
So, thanks for the rant, Woodpecker, but what is this all about?
I think this is about perspective.
Most of you, as myself, will probably not be in a position to stop working right now. We just lack the money.
But it is important to open the eyes to the fact that a job first and foremost is about making money, saving it, investing it wisely to get more and more independent from that very job in the long run.
The job is not about bringing meaning to life, having challenges, building social networks etc.
Whoever took a meaningful time off can tell you that you can satisfy this needs outside a job just as perfectly and much more natural, without all the stress and heteronomy.
This is a bitter pill to swallow, I know.
But it is necessary to keep focused on the goal:
Enjoy your paycheck and maxing out free time and the great things life has to offer, not maxing out the job!
Cheers and a great Christmas to everyone,