I don’t want a job and never have. Often, I’m uncomfortable talking about it because there’s a lot of stigma attached. Not having a job is associated with living on benefits (welfare) and ‘scrounging off hardworking taxpayers’.
Needless to say, that’s not what I aspire to, though I don’t intend to disparage those who do rely on benefits. The idea that not having a job means not working is a misconception, as any stay-at-home parent will tell you! Just because you aren’t getting paid to do something, it doesn’t mean it’s not work. In fact, many of us work harder on things we don’t get paid for, because we’re truly passionate about them. For example, some people make time for personal projects alongside their full-time jobs.
For me, not wanting a job is about freedom. I don’t want to work for someone else. I want to go wherever I like, whenever I like. I want to devote myself to making the world a better place, not making money. I want to live mindfully, not rush around. I want to spend as much time as possible with family and friends.
Recent research found that 60% of the UK workforce is unhappy in their jobs. Many of us are miserable because we have to work to live, and don’t have the time or money to pursue our passions. Someone once said to me that money itself isn’t problematic as an exchange system – the issue is, it’s required to access things which should be human rights, like food, water and shelter. I’m inclined to agree. These things should be unconditionally available to everyone.
For this reason, I’m a staunch supporter of universal basic income, where all citizens of a country receive enough money to cover basic living costs. Many argue that this would be too expensive and that nobody would work any more. However, it would eliminate the need for expensive and bureaucratic benefits systems, and prevent people from experiencing hunger, homelessness and fuel poverty. Given that the sum would only cover basic costs, many would work for additional income, to buy more expensive products or have new experiences.
Importantly, basic income would allow everyone to pursue their passions. People could devote as much time as they liked to hobbies, projects, volunteering, raising children or caring for elderly relatives. This would lead to a happier and healthier society. Parents wouldn’t have to pay for childcare. Elderly people wouldn’t be put in care homes. People wouldn’t be permanently stressed, overworked and exhausted, and would likely be empowered to campaign for change in other areas. It’s ridiculous that people are going hungry in developed countries that can easily afford to feed everyone. The number of food banks which have cropped up in recent years is testament to this.
It’s worth noting that the number of job vacancies in the UK is less than the number of unemployed people. Unless the government creates more jobs, it’s impossible for everyone to be employed. As technology progresses, even more jobs will likely be taken over by machines.
That’s all very well, but basic income isn’t yet a reality. How can those of us who feel this way stay true to ourselves and be happy? There’s no perfect solution, but here are a few ideas.
Work For Yourself
Starting a business related to your passion may allow you to make money doing what you love, though it’ll be hard work and won’t pay off instantly. You could also do casual jobs like babysitting, dog-walking or tutoring.
Working online gives you more flexibility than traditional jobs, though it can be equally stressful. You could be a freelance writer, do paid surveys, telecommute and much more.
Work In Exchange For Food And Accommodation
Websites like WWOOF and Workaway help you find people who will accommodate and feed you in exchange for a certain amount of work. This eliminates rent, most people’s biggest expense, and bills. Most opportunities are short-term, so you’ll have to move around frequently.
Working fewer hours lets you devote more time to what you want to do, whilst maintaining a steady income.
To make these options viable, consider:
Simplifying Your Life
Working less means earning less. You could cut your food bill (click here for my guide to eating vegan on a budget), downsize your home, stop subscriptions or gym memberships, trade your car for a bike, sell things you don’t use etc. Living more simply may even make you happier. Some people take it further and go completely off-grid. This YouTube channel is a great resource if you’re interested in drastically simplifying your life.
It’s best to save up as much as possible before cutting your income. That way you have a safety net and can support yourself while you find your feet.
Do you prefer not having a job? How do you cope with it? I’d love to hear from you.