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Just Do Your Job
For most people, a job entails working for somebody else’s business. This is the most basic form of employment out there; you do what someone else tells you to do, and they pay you for it. Your time is worth however much they decide it is. If they decide they no longer need you, there is little you can do about it. Rather than acting for your own fulfillment, you are acting for someone else’s bottom line. You are labor.
There are other sorts of jobs out there. You can be self-employed, in which case you work for your clients. This afford you a slightly greater degree of freedom, since you have a little more control over your worth and your time (but not much). When we start talking about business owners and investors, other people start working for you. As a business owner, you still have a responsibility to your clients, but usually other people do the majority of the work. You simply own and operate the system that makes it all run. As an investor, you pretty much work for yourself, or rather, yourmoney works for you. That is a sweet setup, because it gives you a lot more freedom.
When I say job, however, I mean the usual submit-an-application-sit-for-an-interview-get-hired-get-paid job. You are either an employee, or self-employed.
Depending on what exactly you do, you may love or hate your job. If you read this blog, however, you are probably likely to chafe at the restrictions and obligations you pick up as an employee, even if you work in a field you love. Most people don’t relish being told what to do, even if it’s something they would do anyway. It is important to be aware of this; if you are the kind of person who prefers self-direction and independence, the manner in which you work is as important as the kind of work you do.
Starting off, most of us are not in a position to create our own businesses or become investors, so the challenge becomes getting a job that enables us to later escape the rat race. This means it must provide a sufficient income to live on, with a bit extra to save (though you can control that by your lifestyle and spending habits), and it must afford you enough free time to work on your dream and other projects. Even if you plan on going the direction of The 4-Hour Workweek, you’ll need at least a bit of startup cash. If you end up in a job where you work your butt off just to pay rent, you’ll be too exhausted to dream of other things, and won’t have the extra cash you need to even take a break if you decide to look for another job.
Part-time work is one option. It has the benefit of giving you plenty of free time, but it usually doesn’t pay sufficiently well. Some other ideas are below, most of them things I’ve tried:
Bartending: Getting a job as a bartender on busy nights can be difficult, but if you can pull it off, it meets all the criteria of a freedom-friendly job. You usually only work nights, often only late in the week, and can still make a good amount of money. I spent some time bartending at a fancy restaurant, and I would recommend that route to anyone thinking about it, since the tips tend to be higher and the atmosphere is much more relaxed. You’ll have to go through a training period though, and the best way to get your foot in the door is to offer to help out for free until you learn the ropes. If you play your cards right (be friendly, helpful, and actually try to take initiative) you’ll hopefully be offered a job. Spend some time at your target restaurant (maybe have lunch there when its cheaper to eat) and try to befriend the owner.
Waiting Tables: Same deal as a bartender, except you make bigger tips. You also work more. You can do pretty well as far as free time goes if you manage to work only evenings though, which gives you more time during the day when stuff happens.
Personal Trainer: This job requires some setup to get off the ground and become profitable, and it is much closer to self-employment than the other two. It does, however, provide you the freedom to determine your hours, your rate, and your clients. You can decide to work as much or as little as you want, assuming you manage to pick up the clients. The best way to get started with this is through another gym, but be warned that clients you get through a gym don’t pay you as much as your own personal clients. This job is perfect if you’re a very social person and can cultivate family and friends for connections and clients, and in many cases, people are more concerned with a friendly trainer than an effective one. Don’t undervalue your worth, but be aware that overcharging can discourage potential clients.
Freelance Journalist: If you are an accomplished writer and enjoy sniffing out stories, this one might be right up your alley. It’s actually a bit easier to break into that you’d think. Find a local paper. Think of an article idea. E-mail the editor and tell them the article idea, asking if they would be interested. If they say yes, go ahead and write it and submit it. Alternatively, write your story, then submit it. The key is a compelling story and a decent grasp of the English language. Because you only submit what you write, you can determine how much you work, and thus how much you make, though you have less control over how much you get paid per article at first. (Check out this website for ideas on getting started).
Freelance Photographer: Similar structure to the journalist, but you get to attend weddings and other sorts of parties. You’ve got to be decent at marketing yourself, and the startup costs tend to be pretty high, but you have more control over your schedule and generally can get paid fairly well. You can also make a bit on the side using photo upload sites like iStockphoto.
The point of the above examples is not to provide an exhaustive list, or even concrete suggestions, but rather to present the kinds of jobs that meet our specific criteria. Think about other options that would give you the free time you need to dream, and still pay enough to live on. Post thoughts to the comments.