There is a revolution on the way in the work market. People are replacing their income with online business.
Around this time of the year, many people are coming home from vacation and going back to work. It is a time when many of us reflect on the meaning of the work we are doing. You may be telling yourself things like: “Do I really have to?” Or: “Oh, when I have worked the first full week I’ll be alright. It’s not so bad.”
The rest of the year we hunger for free time, vacation, quality time; expressions that are popular but also becoming an obsession for working people. In my country, it is becoming increasingly popular to want more free time and it is craved and in demand even more than getting a larger paycheck. Only 12% of dissatisfied working people leave their job because of money (source: forbes.com). Why are we not surprised? Is it an indicator of things to come? A new way of living? Could it be a solution to some of our and even humanity’s greatest problems? Let’s investigate.
We Want Something Else
70% of working people in the United States are disengaged at their job. 53% are decidedly unhappy with their job. The numbers are almost equally high in Europe. About 25% of working people in the western world are affected by stress. Wanting something else is the symptom. What are the implications? Apart from the obvious statistics, what is it that working people would rather be doing than doing their job? What if it were possible to tap into the energy and motivation that is held for whatever it is that working people really want to do (consciously or unconsciously)? Or maybe even tap into the energy that lies in not wanting to do what they are doing now?
Well, it seems clear that some of the things people want more time for are important stuff like family – kids, spouses, and relatives. After that: Leisure time. Time to recover from work. But what if working people were given all the time they wanted – to do whatever they want?
What If You Didn’t Have To Worry About Making a Living?
In recent years there have been conducted social experiments on Basic Income. A base income with no attachments whatsoever for every citizen. Experiments have been done in poorer countries like India as well as richer countries like Finland. Main finds are that, contrary to what one might think, people don’t get lazy. They start businesses. What would you do if your basic needs were taken care of?
Many people think – or are led to believe – that if a person is not rewarded they will not work, not contribute to society, be lazy. Well, this might be true if the alternative is this person losing hope, sinking into depression and despair. Which would be a likely scenario if there were no social mechanisms to support them when they lose their income. However, what if this notion is simply convenient to industrial-society-business-owners because the jobs they offer are just not very attractive. And indeed you might argue that who would do cleaning jobs, waitressing, renovation and so on? Or maybe so-called “bullshit jobs” like registering things that are of no use to anyone, or creating bureaucracy for no reason. A legitimate counter-argument. However, are we not moving into some new form of society (as we indeed always are) with automation being at the heart of it all and a liberal economy that extends hitherto boundaries?
Companies in Sweden have experimented with a 4-day work-week with great success. Productivity has risen.
My bold claim is: In light of increasing automation and the way that the world economy is structured today with floating currencies and money being created as debt in banks it is actually possible to decide to give every person a basic income to live on to increase the quality of life for everyone. And this just might pave the way for businesses to arise that we would never have thought of. Because now people’s imagination would have been set free to contribute to the world what they have always wanted. But until that decision is made you will have to create this foundation yourself. So if you are dissatisfied in your job situation you have two alternatives the way society is structured today:
- Find another job
- Start your own business
Star Trek Society
What could a future society look like? What would we need to prepare for? What would be the bold new way to meet the future? In an episode of the science-fiction TV-series ‘Star Trek The Next Generation’ (you know the phrase: “To boldly go where no one has gone before”) the captain of the starship Enterprise, Jean-Luc Picard, explains the basics of 24th-century economics to a 20th-century businessman, whom they have found drifting in space after having been frozen down since the 19 hundreds (I can’t remember how he ended up in a life-pod in space, though). What Picard says is: “The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.”
Imagination is a prerequisite to shaping the future. This means that in order to shape or be prepared for the future you will sometimes have to ‘kill your darlings’ and imagine the unimaginable. Many people can’t do it and stop themselves from imagining because they see mechanisms of today as unchangeable. Like ‘there will always be rich and poor’ or ‘the market will always rule’. However, could it be that what we have been brought up to know: That you have to work for a living … is also one of these “unchangeables”? That in a world of abundance – where resources are actually enough – only we have restricted them economically in order to hold a workforce in place – we only have to share? That nature simply provides as long as we keep the balance? That we have now created wealth in abundance on a whole new level – enough that we can eliminate poverty and the need to struggle to survive? Can you follow me?
In another episode of Star Trek, Jean-Luc Picard says: “Seize the time… Live now! Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.” And it seems many of us are violating this fine principle by working for a living – not living for our work, making life work for us. Now that abundance has been created – or simply acknowledged – maybe we could emancipate each other and erase the divides we have created between people. Start letting each other live the lives we really want.
What energy would we release by doing that? One can only imagine.
Doing Away With Busy-ness
Artists and sportspeople tell us that when they are doing their thing they do it best at times when they are not self-conscious. When whatever they need and want to do sort of flows through them, coming from another place.
The greatest minds in science and art are telling the rest of us that many of their most genius discoveries and theories were created when they were doing nothing. When they were literally sitting around staring and not doing anything.
Maybe you’ve had one or even both feelings yourself. I know I have.
I have been (un)fortunate enough to have experienced losing my job a couple of times. What I found in those periods of being out of a job was of course frustration that I didn’t have a job and not knowing when I would get one again. And I had a family to support. However, when I then found a job the time that passed from knowing that I had got it until I was starting up was always one of creativity. The notion of security and time on your hands is a creative cocktail. However, when I was back in the nine-to-five, I didn’t feel that I had time to be creative anymore.
Comparing with say for instance business owners, entrepreneurs or artists, representing a segment of working people who work way more than a standard workweek, almost cannot stop working when in flow, do not retire when they get old and love what they do, one might ask: What makes them go? Why is everybody not doing what they do? Doesn’t everybody want a work-life that puts them in flow?
Before civilization man hunted and gathered in nature to fulfill their survival needs. Nature provided. And nature set the boundaries as to how large the population could become.
Agriculture changed this setup, created the opportunity for abundance and laid the foundation for civilization. Populations grew. Hierarchies were systemized to maximize profits for kings and queens, nobility, upper classes.
The upper classes didn’t work. At least not hard and not in the way the lower classes would define it. Since the beginning of civilization, the working classes (slaves, peasants, workers) have been taught to view work as hard, something that you had to do, and that if you worked hard enough you could emancipate yourself. Even an otherwise liberating term like “The American Dream” really means: Start at the bottom. And if you work hard, you can move into the rich segment. The rich segment being really those who have made resources work for them instead of working for resources.
It is really a mindset issue as well as a political one. In his book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, Robert Kiyosaki’s point is that we are all brought up to understand that we have to work to make a living. Whereas the mindset that will actually make you rich is figuring out how to make money, and make money work for you – instead of the other way around.
The world view of working for money is so systemized today that we speak of such a thing called ‘the work market’ which can be controlled and managed. Employment rates have an impact on the economy. Regulating the supply and demand of labor is an economic factor.
Upper-class people of the ages before industrialization would be called lazy in today’s terms since they were not working their asses off like us – being busy as hell all the time – not always with undisputably good reason. But they were the ones setting the societal stage at their time. And the ones that we remember today. From a certain perspective, not much has changed. It is still a few that make the many work.
So what can we learn?
Well, it seems that nature provides if man lives by nature. If, however, we choose to live by our own rules, agriculture/civilization …, we create wealth – a surplus from what nature provides which can be maximized if we make other people work for us. Or we make money work for us. Set up systems that create a market of products or services that people want.
And it seems that it is important for people to be able to find meaning in their work. So in order to be successful in the market, we have to provide meaning … value. It seems the workforce has “matured”. The values that were true before are not as useful anymore.
“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.” – Carl Jung
As the individual experiences a transition over a lifetime so it seems humanity now experiences a change. We are looking for meaning. Life has to be meaningful. Otherwise, we experience stress, detachment, and dissatisfaction. We have come too far to just be satisfied with surviving.
The good news is that the risks of breaking out of the limiting paradigm that says we have to work for others to make a living are becoming more and more insignificant. Resources and opportunities are there. We have created abundance on a new level. We can create our own base income, even create our own abundance, doing what we love doing, not having to succumb to dissatisfaction with jobs that don’t align with our values – and at the same time create time for ourselves to be present with our loved ones. In addition, we could create a work-life that has many more moments of feeling in flow. The positive energy of working with what you LOVE.