6 May 2013

You don’t deserve a day off – you need one

She said to him “I am just thinking aloud my suggestions to best manage your time off today because you have work tomorrow. But now I will keep my thoughts to myself then”.

As a day out destination, the seaside is hard to beat
I heard these words today whist out and about on a splendid bank holiday Monday. It made me a little bit sad, however don’t worry I soon got over it. But it did add to what I was already thinking about writing for today’s blog entry. But first we need to go back to the beginning and what set me going.

We live in Hythe, Kent. My work does not require me to live near a motorway or railway station or in a city. So we were free to choose where we wanted to live instead of where the job is. The bottom of our road lets out onto the main road into Hythe from the nearest motorway. Normally, even in rush hour, this road is not particularly busy, but as today was pretty much the first nice sunny day that we have had this year coupled with the bank holiday it means that a lot of people have decided that they want a nice day out at the seaside. And who can blame them? If you work all year with a paltry 20-25 days holiday and a few bank holidays you deserve to have a nice day out once in a while. Therefore the road was a solid snake of cars all the way down to Hythe and all the way back as far as we could see. We changed our plans and turned left out of Hythe.

But imagine if you’ve just driven an hour (or more) with everyone else down the motorway and sat in a long queue of traffic just to get to the beach. You wouldn’t be about to change your mind and go the other way would you? This is a sacred day, one of the precious few week days a year when you aren’t at work and you can be with your family doing something that you all enjoy. This, of course, creates it’s own tensions. This need to maximise the day or to make the most of your free time creates pressure. There is a lot of expectation, which if it goes unmet causes unhappiness. Imagine if it had been raining? Or if, because of the heightened atmosphere of expectation, you have been arguing with your partner while in the back the kids are bored and getting more restless (are we there yet?). The pressure mounts up and can conspire to ruin the day for everyone. All the time behind this is the knowledge that tomorrow it’s back to work – business as usual.

Walking around today I got to thinking that I really couldn’t face even the possibility of going to work tomorrow (particularly in an office). You see I have been free for two years now. I know what life is like both when you have a job and when you don’t have one and there is no way that I could go back to having a job. But that’s okay because I don’t need to worry about that anymore. It has been two years and everything has gone pretty well. I’m not rich, in fact I earn less than I did in my last job, but I don’t need as much money. I don’t spend £7500 a year on commuting for one thing. I don’t have that gnawing desire to reward myself with expensive holidays and expensive ‘stuff’ any more either.

I believe that there is a choice in life between having a job versus finding a way to earn your own living. I do not believe in job security, so I think that you are responsible for yourself. I also think that you have a choice about self determination. What? I mean that you can choose to rely on an employer to supply your needs or you can choose to rely on your own self. Who do you trust, You? Or your employer?

And so, we come back to the start of this entry which now you’ve read this far you will see that the quote at the top has a lot more to it than the words themselves would at first suggest. It sums up all of the expectations and the pressures that we put on ourselves to have all the good time we possibly can in the small amount of time off allowed to us. There is a choice, and if you choose to have a job, a career even, then you not only deserve a nice day out once in a while, you need it. But if you choose to make your own way and do it right, then you can have a day out when you choose without the pressure to make the most of it I think you will enjoy these a lot more.

If you have a job then as well as an occasional nice day out you will require a holiday, some nice clothes and a decent car to park on the drive of the house in the suburbs that costs you a lot of money. The problem for many is that the amount of money earned from working at a job never seems quite enough to compensate for the amount that an employee seems obliged to give. The wage is not quite enough to fulfill the needs of days out, holidays, cars and size of house. What you really want often seems out of reach, and when we earn more money we, perhaps rightly, want even more and nicer things in our lives to make it worthwhile. This keeps people hungry for more so they will stay on the proverbial career treadmill.

The point here, is that you don’t have to stay on the treadmill. You can get off. The desire to acquire fades. The need to earn more to match your expanding lifestyle goes away. It isn’t that I have forced myself to become happier with less, it is that I no longer desire more.

But perhaps best of all (on a flippant level) when you don’t have a job you can decide to have a day out at anytime you like. So, go when everyone else is at work. This removes the pressures and you won’t get stuck in a traffic jam again. Today’s was a novelty!

I would recommend this book:

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