Who Needs a Job?


Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
~Confucius

I know it sounds strange, coming from a career/employment counselor, to say that you may need to re-think your “need” for a job. After all, anybody who is a healthy adult should work right?

For thousands of years, humans didn’t have the concept of “work” as we have today. Work and life were combined as a single thing. Farmers would start their days early to milk the cows and tend the fields, artisans would work on their craft and well, there were not many “unemployed” people save for the rich nobles and disabled ones.

“Work” as a concept is fairly new and came attached to the Industrial Revolution. Last century (1900’s) when companies started to have surplus and couldn’t find enough people to buy the goods they produced, somebody created the “marketing” concept and started telling everyone we “needed” or “deserved” this and that…that is how a once “one breadwinner” home became our “must” two-breadwinners of today.

So we went from simple but fairly “enough” households were most basic needs were met and everyone would have a role and things to do, to households were nothing seems to be “enough” (we “need” even bigger houses, bigger backyards, better appliances, better clothes, cars, etc.), and to keep with that “more and better” we were made to think everybody in the household should work!

The model would be great if it worked…but this “more and better” model asks for our lives (we need to work longer hours and until we drop dead or are too old to function); the same model makes us to leave our children (our most precious gift to life) under the care of strangers, we are also forced to be terribly dependent: we depend on the supermarket (and our jobs) for food, we depend on the government for access to water, heat and other types of energy, and if we don’t work, we are made feel miserable as failures to society and to our families…

Not just more and more studies show that we are not necessarily happier (we are more stressed, tired and frustrated with our lives, we have more crime, substance abuse and unhealthy lifestyles, we have smaller families were not everybody stays around). We are also abusing our only home: our planet. In order to have “more and better” we are destroying whole ecosystems, changing the lives of entire cultures, displacing living organisms and people, using up all the energy reserves and taking much more than our share…this will leave an ugly world for generations to come (for our children and grand-children) and not much more, not better.

It is funny how we have put all these values on things that have no value at all: pieces of paper or metal (“money”) and all types of “toys” that distract us from what is real.

Have you ever questioned what a job takes from you? It takes time from your life, to enjoy life, to make life more meaningful for those you care about.

  • A job takes time from your relationship with your children: they will grow up and leave…time passes too soon!
  • A job takes time you could dedicate to understand life, natural cycles and those around you.
  • A job takes the energy you need to help others and bring meaningful change to the world.
  • A job asks you to dress in certain ways, so you have to spend money to be able to work.
  • A job asks you to spend money on other things, such as gas for your car or bus tickets, coffees and meals outside your home.
  • A job may affect your health, so you’ll need to invest money in medicine and time going to doctors.

Ask yourself:

  • Would you need a job if you learn to grow your own food or share a vegetable garden with family and friends?
  • Would you need a job if you re-assessed your own and your family needs and wants based on your values and your impact on next generations?
  • What types of things and expenses you can change in your life so you may not need a job?
  • Is working the best way you have to contribute to society and your family or are there other things you could do better?

Even after all these questions, you may still decide that a job is necessary. It may be if you have debts to pay, basic needs that cannot be met in other ways, or you just enjoy working outside your home.

In any case, try to think if your job is:

Sustainable enough? (respectful of planet finite resources, respectful of people’s diversity and social justice, etc.?)

Valuable for this and future generations? (is this job in any way taking more than the fair share so is less for future generations? Is this job creating a better future for all? Is this job wasting resources that future generations will need?)

Valuable for you, your family and friends? (are you doing something for others that they value?)

Having a job is not synonym of success. Not having a job is not synonym of failure. There are many other valuable ways to make an impact and be successful:

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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About Silvia TIC

Welcome to these exercises inside the dimensions of what we are: we are what we dream and think and feel, but we are also the different characters we perform, not just the roles (mother, wife, friend), but those things we call “occupations” or “earning a life”. More than anything, we are part of a giant ecosystem and all what we do connects and impacts others (people, animals, plants, air, water...)

Posted on May 6, 2013, in Career Development and Job Search, Immigrant Integration and Settlement, Resilient Living and Choices, Simply Living, Sustainable Living. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Very insightful Silvia. Now I really have to think about what I “need”. I believe we have been cultured to think that we ‘need’ when in fact we don’t…The question is … what will it take to make the change? How do we move from where we are to where we should be? I would like to know.

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    • In every big paradigm change, there are always those who take the lead and start the transition. Those are the ones who make mistakes, who are laughed at, who suffer the consequences of walking on uncharted territory.
      There are also the others, the ones who like the idea but hesitate, they watch the ones above and may follow when the territory has been walked and tested.
      And there is another group, a mix of people who may not believe a change is possible and may even resist seeing reality.
      The key is to choose whose group you want to belong to. No group is right or wrong, it all depends on your individual circumstances, your own particular strengths, and the timing, that is not the same for each one of us.

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  2. Great piece!

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