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Semi-Retirement for the Under Twenties: Part 6

The Nature of Your Part-Time Subsistence Work is Not Important

Is it best to be a part-time salesperson, barman or doctor? The nature of your work is not important. Your ambition for work is less about the nature of the job, and more that this job is part-time. A summary of the careers advice contained here is: find the sort of part-time work that allows the most freedom for your important work. Your job needs to be part-time, and better still, freelance, in that you work as and when you need to.

Plumber, fitness instuctor, nurse, bar work: these are all jobs that are easy to do part-time or freelance. Well-paid executive for an telecoms company is not. Lawyer and advertising copywriter are not. Many part-time jobs are manual jobs, which may not appeal to you. If, however, the important work you do outside of your subsistence work involves sitting at a desk using a computer, active manual work might be a pleasant change. No one is suggesting that being an electrician is going to be your life’s fulfillment. This will come outside of your subsistence work.

Happily, the rewarding jobs discussed earlier can be much more rewarding if part-time. The part-time doctor or teacher, if they can resist the pressures to work longer than the hours for which they are paid, can feel the rewards of these jobs more keenly when their spare time is not so minimal. But not all rewarding jobs are possible to do part-time, and should be avoided.

Better still if you can combine a number of part-time jobs (so long as they only add up to the hours of one). You have greater job security if you lose one of three part-time jobs rather than one full-time job. You also have more chance to avoid being exploited when you have more than one job, for you can give it up more easily because you have other work. The best kind of subsistence job is the one where you could not care less if you lost it.

In full-time career jobs people work a huge amount of unpaid overtime. They do this because they fear being seen as not as good as their colleagues, who also work unpaid overtime. In your casual subsistence job, if your employer does not pay you for overtime, you will rightly complain, or threaten to leave. No one threatens to leave a career job, because they have worked so hard to get it in the first place. Their employer will exploit that to the maximum. The principle in feudal times was, ‘Pay the poor just enough that they can buy the food they need in order to work, and they will continue working.’ In the modern career the principle changes to, ‘Increase the employee’s workload to just before the point where they are off sick with stress, and they will continue working.’

The great thing about part-time work is, the less you work, and the less attached you are to the work you do, the more available you are to take on different, more interesting subsistence work. Don’t take on the fear of your parents, or your school, that you have somehow failed. Part-time subsistence work is not a stop-gap to a full-time career. If you have created the spare time for using your genuine capabilities, and you take pleasure in this, then you are a success.

You ask again: but how do I live on part-time wages? We will get to that in Part 8.

next: Part 7 – University is Not Essential For a Fulfilling Life