I have a confession to make. Actually, I have a couple of them to make. First, I wrote my recent post about how lifestyle design isn’t for everyone out of frustration. I like the way it turned out (and maybe I should channel emotion when writing more often), but that leads me to my second confession.
When my wife read the post, she pointed out that it was lacking a little balance. I referred to how society teaches us to become corporate drones. She thought that it might come off as though I have some problem with people who work for corporations.
Here’s my second confession: I used to work for a corporation. Most people I know also do, because that’s how our economy is currently structured. I certainly don’t have a problem with people who work for corporations, but I am personally much more creative, happy and fulfilled not working for one.
Do I miss working for a big company? Not really. I suppose there were aspects of it that I liked (the paycheck and friends being foremost). On the whole though, I can’t say that I ever really felt good about helping Giant Conglomerate become a little more efficient or better at convincing people to buy things from it.
I just didn’t have the right combination of desire, courage and means to do something else. It’s not easy to create your own path in life when everything you read or experience tells you to go with the flow.
Do I hold it against people for not becoming self employed or working for a small company? Not at all. Everyone has different desires and comfort levels. Most of my friends work for big companies, and some even enjoy it. You can work for a big company without being a drone. You can also consciously choose to put in hours at work in exchange for a salary so you can check everything at the door when you go home. I get it.
There are also plenty of downsides to being an entrepreneur or a freelancer or joining a startup. Chief among them is the constant struggle to succeed. Also, it’s not easy to start a company when you have to work full time to pay the bills. Those reasons are enough for most people to choose to work comfortably in big companies.
I also hear the argument that some people have to work in larger companies so that important things like infrastructure and airplanes can get built. That argument only goes so far. Many of those companies could use more contracted services to get things done, and both the company and the contractors would be better off.
Beyond airplanes though, do such things as music, entertainment, retail, hotels, banking, software, health care and insurance really need to be built by 10,000 or 100,000+ person companies? I think not, and the idea that economy of scale is the primary reason that companies of that scale exist is ridiculous. Those companies exist because our government, financial system and societal beliefs are designed to help huge companies flourish. That design serves the interests of the rich and powerful more than it does the individual. Luckily, the world is changing, and that change is creating opportunities for people who want something different.
Getting away from the rat race has opened my eyes to some radically different possibilities. I’ve met artists who scrape by on coffee shop wages just so they can continue to make art. I’ve met surfers who travel the world for a year at a time seeking great waves and good times living on less than $1,000 per month. I’ve met people in “regular” jobs who have negotiated the ability to take 3 or more months off every year and who have figured out how to live without the salary they miss while gone. All of these people share a passion and vibrancy that I rarely felt when working for a big company.
It’s not that I want everyone to live some alternative lifestyle of a vagabond or artist. If you’re happy and fulfilled, then it doesn’t really matter what you do for a living. I just happen to believe most people would be happier working for themselves or in a small company.
What I do want is to help people who have a desire to do something different to realize that desire. Your happiness is something worth working for. Let’s get working to help you achieve it.
photo by Dan Coulter