I’ve been in this purgatory before. I’ve made the definite decision to quit my job, pack up my meager belongings, move to a new city. In other words, jump into the roiling seas of uncertainty in the effort to be fully alive and engaged with my particular set of challenges.
In the interim, I’m grounding myself with the principles of Voluntary Simplicity. One of the positive side effects of the recession has been the increased interest in this kind of movement, which is at the heart of how I live my life. Living by choice on $18,000 (or much less) a year. Prioritizing experience over possessions. My personal blogroll has increased exponentially lately with personal finance/consciousness blogs on these sorts of topics (e.g. The Simple Living Network, The Professional Hobo, Get Rich Slowly, among many others). Many of these bloggers support themselves largely on the proceeds of their writing and related experiences.
There is a fine line between prioritizing experience over salary and going into debt, however. While I don’t want to miss out on my opportunities, I need enough foundation to keep myself grounded. That’s where I’m starting to get creative. Leapforce is currently a satisfactory stop-gap measure, very flexible, decent pay, work that I can convince myself is moderately useful. In the terms of the hugely influential V.S. book Your Money or Your Life, my life energy is set to be very well balanced in the coming year. I will be paid to do my favorite thing in the world – be a student and a researcher. I can pay the bills with flexible part time work and still have most of my time entirely to my own discretion. In many ways this is my ideal life. In other ways, the picture feels unfinished.
The thing is, I like to work. I like discipline and structure and the satisfaction of a useful job well done. I don’t ever really want to “retire,” just evolve through a series of challenges in (what is already) a unconventional career. I don’t really want to only work 10 hours a week, even if it does leave me almost unlimited time for exploration, hiking, creative endeavors, flea markets…all that good stuff that I daydream about in my current life and don’t have nearly enough time for. Maybe it’s just the definition of “work” that needs to be adjusted. Does it need to take place in an office? Does it need to be salaried? These are the things that give me security, though the recent waves of massive unemployment show that’s often false security.
Through this process, I think I’m circling around the convergence of my personal convictions with my career path. Where life and work click seemlessly, that’s my destination.