Monday, 25 August 2014

The benefits of working 9 to 5 - and other perspectives

Picture from Wikimedia Commons
So this is a subject title I never thought I'd put up :) But it's an important thing to talk about, because, along my journey, I've come across a fair few people posting about how they left the 9 to 5 world, and it can make you think that you should do it too. In some ways, I would like to. But the reality is, it's hard. I have thought in the past that being able to leave your 9 to 5 job makes you a better, more spiritual, more special person, more able to deal with hard situations etc. Now I'm starting to change my thinking.

I have just started my new job this week, and have enjoyed the first week - it's probably the first time I've enjoyed a week at work for 2 years. It is really hard when you go through tough times in the workplace. My brain took a pounding from my previous two jobs, and I probably needed a few months to recover from it all and gain a more balanced perspective. Many people spend 35+ hours at work during the week, some even do 60+ which I find crazy, but each to their own. But I think we can all agree that, if we work a fair few hours in one job, it's important that you enjoy it, or at the very least tolerate it.

I would rather not work full-time, but I don't want to be on benefits, and currently I do not have any outside sources of income. Looking for jobs is just not the ideal way to live - and especially now, with all this sanctions nonsense taking place, I'm glad to be out of the Jobcentre's hands. I still don't agree with the whole system, and I still think the ratrace culture in Great Britain is a pile of nonsense. I think the British mentality towards people on benefits is appalling. But reality is what it is, and sometimes you just have to adapt. If you have enough money to live on for a while, or a potentially viable plan to make money being self-employed, then I would absolutely say go for it. If you have neither of these (although this could change in the future) - sometimes there's little else you can do but accept that. I have spent too much time trying to rack my brain and think of that magic, elusive SOMETHING that I could do to make a living - that something never came to me.

In the end, I had to accept that now is not my time to exit the 9 to 5 world. This does not mean to say that it will never happen, but it is not happening now - and now is the only reality there is. It was absolutely the right decision to quit my last job, I had to for the benefit of all concerned, and I'm glad I was brave enough to do it - it is not worth suffering for the sake of work, and sometimes you just have to take a leap into the unknown when things get too much. The job prior to that was going the same way too, thankfully I got made redundant from that. Taking a leap into the unknown does not necessarily mean that your life is going to radically change, and I think it's easy to make the mistake of thinking that way. It could mean your life is going to radically change, but you have to be open to whatever life has in store for you.

It is foolish to neglect your basic needs, and trusting that the Universe will magically provide something out of nothing for you whilst you sit in fields every day enjoying nature, just isn't going to cut it. We need food, clothing and shelter, at a bare minimum. Your body automatically goes into panic mode if any of these basic needs are under threat, no matter how much you meditate or how much you desire to save the world. And, like or not, a job is a good way to ensure our basic needs are met. The money from benefits is not enough for anything more than the bare minimum, plus there's the whole pressure of looking for work. No one in their right mind would want to be on benefits long term, unless they manage to claim lots of benefits like the stories in the media (which, personally, I am not convinced are necessarily true). Even then, the stigma of being on benefits would be enough to put me off.

So, my experiences over the last few years, of long term unemployment and tough times in the workplace, have hopefully taught me a few lessons and maybe enabled me to see things in a bit of a different perspective. Many people moan about their jobs but are scared to leave them. I am glad that I've had the various experiences I have, and fingers crossed, my new job will continue to go well. I need to settle down a bit, I feel that where I live in Huddersfield is now home for me, and hopefully life will keep flowing well.

Anyhow back to my subject title - the benefits of working 9 to 5. It is probably easier to look at the elimination of the negatives of not working - you don't have to go to the Jobcentre, you have enough money to live a reasonable life, you aren't under pressure to find work etc. I do think it is unnatural to work the hours we work - 25 hours a week would be better, and would give people more chance to spend with family and friends. However, there are some positive aspects to working full time, providing you get on with your job and colleagues:
1) Routine - Whilst, in general, I am not a big fan of too much structure, I think the routine of work can be good in order to gain a bit of discipline and groundedness. It's easy to see work as a curse - but it can be a good thing.
2) Interaction with society - Anyone who has been out of work for any significant time will tell you that they have felt cut off from society and felt like they were on the scrapheap. The majority of people do work, and it does affect your self-esteem if you have been unemployed for a while. You definitely feel more integrated into society when you are working.
3) Something to keep you occupied - I don't enjoy being bored. I needed a bit of time out to recover from the cumulative stress of my last two jobs and also the events that happened after that, which included a major fall out with a family member. But I had got to the stage where I was ready to go back to work. It's not easy to keep yourself occupied when you have lots of time but little money. Going back to work is definitely good in that it gives me something to do.
4) Money - The most obvious benefit. I am not on a huge salary, but I don't need to be. I can walk to work (although will probably get the bus on occasion) so I am not spending a huge amount of money on work travel, which for me is a bigger problem than people realise - I think it's crazy to live far from where you work, unless you get your travel expenses paid. At least now, I will have enough money to go to a few social events and meditation classes and stuff. I hardly saw people when I was out of work, which was quite hard.

So .. these are the main benefits for me. So far, the new job has helped me preserve enough energy to do the things I want to do outside of work. This is vital. Fingers crossed it will stay that way.

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