Monday, July 13, 2009

5 Myths about not having a job

It’s been one year since I succumbed to the idea of not having a job at all. Like everyone, I had hopes and preconceived notions of what it would be like to not go to work at all. Here are 5 things I have learned in the ensuing year are not really true.

Myth #1: You will have vast stretches of unlimited free time
This is the primary reason to give up a regular job, but it is surprising how little extra time one really gets. Not having to set out for office daily is when you realize how many of our day to day activities have to get done anyway. If you manage your time well, you can get a few extra hours every day, but it not even close to whole days.

Myth #2: With no routine to adhere to, you can do whatever you want, whenever you feel like it
It has been a shock to me how quickly new routines get formed. Yes, it is possible to be rebellious and try to shun routines. But for me, not having a routine worked out to be really counter-productive. I have made peace with the fact that routines to a certain degree are inevitable, and that the structure is actually helpful for me to function better.

Myth #3: You can forget about Work and earning Money
Your ex-colleagues and friends will come up with suggestions for what else you could be doing with your time, even if you don’t want to work 9 to 5. From time to time, I myself come up with schemes which I feel are ways to earn extra money. That kind of thinking lasts until I realize that it simply doesn’t make any sense to venture out on dubious propositions that have a remote chance of succeeding. And that I would be earning one tenth of my annual salary even if they did pan out. But it takes conscious effort to stay clear of work and money-related thinking.

Myth #4: You can’t live without a regular paycheck
Actually, employees get a lot more than just their paycheck, if you also consider the perks and benefits that go with being employed. So there is a big fear in letting go of what feels like life support. In my case, after a few necessary adaptations, it didn’t at all feel that bad. I don’t want to make it seem easy. Just that with enough planning, careful saving and living within set budgets it is possible to attain freedom from our dependence on regular paychecks.

Myth #5: You will get terribly bored
This is perhaps the biggest myth of them all. Those who say this really don’t know what they are talking about. When was the last time you got bored of a 4-day weekend, or your 2-week vacation? With all the events, movies, books and so much of the Web to discover, if anyone gets bored it is really their own fault. I am just as pressed for time as I was when I was working, and haven’t yet gotten bored.

In all, I am happy with my decision to leave the workforce. (Otherwise I’d be out looking for a job right now.) Just that things don’t always turn out as you think they will. If you know of friends or colleagues who mention their urge to shove their job, you might consider forwarding these myths to them.


uk said...

Hi Ram:
A very interesting blog and an adventure in early retirement. I am reading "The World is My Home" after reading your post. The book is fascinating.
I look forward to reading more posts about your thoughts.


Ram said...


Thanks, UK. I checked out your blog and you have lots of interesting books there.

I am very happy that you picked up "The World is My Home." Michener fans will surely like it. He shows off a bit in the book, but if you overlook that given how talented he was, the book has so much for us to learn from.