Posts Tagged ‘quitting your job’

A Corporate Career Makes You Less Than Human

October 9th, 2012 No comments

When we take a corporate job we are aware that we give up certain parts of our life in exchange for our salary, that we are making a compromise. But we rarely re-examine this compromise once we have worked a job for a time, and ask whether it is still worthwhile, or whether the balance has tipped too far. For the security of a salary dominates all considerations of the compromise, and we forget to ask what the work we do for corporations does to us.

Because for most full-time corporate career jobs, I consider the exchange to be a bad one. To work for a corporation (and I don’t consider this an exaggeration) is to diminish your humanity. Work in one for too long and you forget many aspects of what it means to be human.

Corporations demand loyalty that is never returned

Your boss may be a nice person. She may be someone who, outside of work, treats her family and friends with kindness and generosity. But if she is your boss in a corporation she cannot and will not treat you in this way. At least not sincerely. Your boss is not your friend.

True friendship requires loyalty. But if there are redundancies or ‘company restructuring’ your boss will not put themselves on the line for you. They won’t even want to talk to you, out of shame. This has nothing to do with whether they are a decent person outside of work or not. They are prevented from being loyal by working for a corporation.

If a friend treated you in this way, you would rightly want nothing more to do with them. But as an employee of a corporation, you put up with such bad treatment of yourself and others, like the victim of domestic abuse. You say nothing of being asked to work hours of unpaid overtime, or to take holiday at times of the corporations choosing, or to take work calls at home from countries in different time zones. So long as you still have your job you say nothing. Even if you lose your job, do you shout and complain, and ask if this is all your deserve for your years of loyalty? You do not, for fear of a bad reference.

Corporations make you subservient in a way you would never endure outside work

Look at how we react when, through no fault of our own, we know we are going to be late for work. We are desperate to call our boss to excuse ourselves, and if we can’t get hold of them we worry about how that might affect their opinion of us. Why do we worry so? If this was a friend we know we could explain that the train was delayed and that they would understand. But with a boss we worry they do not trust us, we worry we are going down in their estimation, that this will be a black mark against us. Then we stay late to make up the time, but do not view this as having paid back the time.

Corporations take control of your time

That we hand control of our time to a corporation is a terrible thing. Control of your own time is a pleasure that we do not even realise is missing until we work for ourselves. To start and finish work when we like, to take a lunch hour when and for as long as we like, to go to the cinema in the middle of the day if we feel like it, to make keeping in touch with friends as important a part of our life as our work, these are all marvellous things that we do not even know that we are missing.

A corporate environment is the opposite of what you need for creative work

Business leaders can be often heard declaring the need for creativity from their corporate employees – they need creative ideas to fuel the next generation of their business. But creativity within a corporate job is almost impossible.

Creative ideas comes from daydreaming, from an unspecified length of time spent musing on an idea, from unpredictable influences out in the world. None of these are to found whilst sitting at a desk burdened by a list of tasks. Unless you are Jonathan Ive<> you are very unlikely to be paid to sit around daydreaming for a large part of your working week. Each penny the corporation spends on your salary must be accounted for.

In addition, the structure of corporations sucks out creativity from tasks within its working day where you might be able to use even the smallest of your own ideas. If furniture is to be moved around an office, corporate employees cannot just rearrange as they like. Corporate rules insist this is done by trained removers, trained in health and safety guidelines, to avoid litigation for employee injury and to keep insurance premiums down.

Corporations are not doing this to be awkward – this is how any large organization has to work. But it dampens your creative spirit until you forget you had one.

You do not have to work for a corporation. If you feel you would like to leave, but cannot because you need the money, then stop needing the money. Or at least stop needing the same amount of money. Leave the corporation and take back your humanity.

Steps to Escaping Your Full-Time Job

September 11th, 2012 No comments

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a reader of this blog, who asked what advice I had for someone who wanted to give up their full-time career. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to think that the posts here have been some kind of encouragement for this. For semi-retirement is not just advice for teenagers starting out in the world of work – anyone can chuck in full-time work at any stage of their life.

This post is an extended version of my reply.

Before you go ahead and take the glorious step of telling your boss that you’re leaving, it’s a good idea to have put a few things in place. Here’s my suggestions:

Start investigating the creative work for which you have a passion

Do this whilst you are still in your full-time job. Assign to it as many hours as you currently have free, and be disciplined in how you work. (You will need your discipline later, for no one tells you to get on with your creative work.) This is the most important thing to do – if you have an idea of the direction of your creative work when you do hand in your notice, you stand less chance of feeling lost.

Reduce your current expenses

You will soon be living on part-time wages and you need to understand how you are going to do this. If you have a partner or children you will need to discuss with them why you will have less money in the future. (I have explained to my children on a number of occasions that the flipside of not having as much money spent on them as their friends is that I get to spend more time with them. They don’t understand the argument. But they do like me spending more time with them.)

Reducing your expenses is easier than it looks. And when you have creative work that brings you pleasure you find you have less need of stuff that costs money. Creative work gives you a different feeling of status from the one that you take from stuff, but a feeling of status all the same. People admire the choice to control your own time, to live in a way that they view as insecure. (So long as you are working on your projects and not just watching daytime TV.)

Investigate how you will work part-time

It may be possible to work part-time hours at your current job, hours that give you the time you need for your creative work. But if your employer will not allow this, see if you can use the skills you have picked up in your job to work freelance. It may be that you do just a small amount of freelance work to begin with, that you need to supplement with other part-time subsistence work.

If freelance work is not possible, look for other part-time work. Remember it does not have to fulfil you or give your life meaning. It is subsistence work to support your creative work.

Find other semi-retirees for support

You need to associate with like-minded people, either who are interested in the same creative work or who simply understand your reasons for doing what you are doing. I rented a desk space in an artists studio, and these people have become my main inspiration and support. Associating with other semi-retirees who have an interest in living cheaply has the added side-effect of helping you spend less money.

If you have made steps towards these – go tell your boss that you’re leaving…