Why I Chose A Happy Life Over A Stable Career (And I'm Not Alone)
Most people view having a stable career as one of the most necessary ingredients to a happy life, yet so many of us that are fortunate enough to have that stability still find ourselves wanting more.
Is the problem solely that happiness requires more than just job security? Or do we live in a world where traditional full-time work actually contributes to our dissatisfaction?
If given the choice, I doubt that many of us would choose to work 40 hours a week. And those that would choose it are likely to have one thing in common: what they do for work directly engages at least one of their core passions.
But we live in a world where the majority of us need to work to survive. We accrue debt through post-secondary school and then when buying a house, and find ourselves working whatever is available until we one day (hopefully) land something in line with what we studied to do.
Given that the inherent value in a university or college degree seems to be steadily diminishing — all while the cost of attaining it is increasing — it appears as though the career landscape is becoming murkier and murkier.
But here come the millennials, a vocal and social media obsessed generation that I am proud to be a part of (minus the inexplicable preoccupation with Snapchat). We have made it known how we differ from our baby boomer parents, as summarized perfectly in this article published in The Atlantic.
Unlike our mothers and fathers, our happiness hinges significantly on our work-life balance and the attainment of personal goals and dreams — rather than simply being a part of a corporate one.
While many companies are actively attempting to accommodate this new attitude (see: Google, Facebook, the country of Sweden as a whole), the general full-time work structure continues to be Monday to Friday, from 9AM to 5PM.
Despite our need for the financial stability such a position usually affords, many of us are seeking creative ways to break free from this paradigm. I know that I personally could never comfortably operate within the traditional model — not because I am inherently lazy, but rather because I know what it takes to make me productive, and that's a part of what keeps me content here at Collective Evolution.
The majority of us on staff work a 4-day work week in the office that starts at 10:30AM (allowing us to avoid unnecessary traffic), with the allowance to take regular breaks to meditate, walk, or simply relax. To most boomers, a flexible work schedule of this nature sounds ludicrous, but for the most part it has actually heightened productivity. Many of us actually choose to work beyond our hours from home, and to also use a great deal of our free time to creatively expand ourselves in ways that ultimately benefit the company.
But even within that, I continually find myself looking for more — and I know that I am not alone in feeling this way.
The Rise Of The Freelance Worker
The more that I am referring to is the ability to incorporate and monetize several of our other passions into our weekly life.
The seeming solution to this? Freelance work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15.5 million Americans were self-employed in May of 2015, a number that has climbed steadily since. Through my own freelance work I'm able to regularly dabble in two of my other passions, acting and video production, ultimately making me happier than I would be if I worked full-time at Collective Evolution alone.
What We Can All Do About It
Whether you are a millennial or not, there is something that we can all do to help ourselves break free from the typical working structure. The first step is to identify what you are most passionate about.
Once you have that locked down, go through your weekly life and see how many of those passions are being engaged regularly. Those that do not make the cut are the ones you want to pay particular attention to.
Find ways to devote at least one hour each week to that passion. Think you don't have time? Think of how much time we spend, despite our hectic schedules, watching television or browsing our social media feeds. Even if the time you spend with each passion is not monetized in any way, you will still find enjoyment in simply experiencing it regularly.
The more you engage all of your main passions, the happier you will become and ultimately the more likely you are to creatively find a way to turn it into a career.
The Biggest Argument
The biggest form of resistance your mind will likely present to this material is that you need to stay within your current job to be able to survive. Nobody is suggesting that you quit your job; I am instead suggesting that you find ways to make time for everything you'd like to be doing for work instead.
Working long hours at a job you hate may seem like a means to survival, but if it is slowly killing you inside, are you actually surviving?