Wednesday, July 11, 2012

You're Doing What???

Choosing to make a living doing something unusual or different often elicits that kind of response from others, often parents, sometimes friends. You're doing what??? Can you make a living doing that?

Psychic work, energy healing and related things are unusual to a lot of people. But then again, it was not that long ago that making a living as a massage therapist or yoga teacher was an uncommon choice.

How about pet sitters or people who walk other people's dogs for a living? Or those people who come in and reorganize the stuff in your house for you? Or people who do singing telegrams?

There are lots of people now who do their work on computer, at home and then send the work off to their client via email.

But there are still people in our parents generation who still think of work as something you go to a factory,warehouse, office or store to do, and you have a paycheck and benefits and you have to ask someone's permission to take time off.

In the course of doing something they love for a living, people often hear parents and others ask the question "When are you going to get a real job?"

Of course my response always was that as long as I could pay my bills and afford to have some fun that I did have a real job, although it might not look like it if you were looking for me to clock in at someone else's place of business or to having to wear a suit and tie or a uniform every time I leave home.

That's the way most jobs used to look. But that was before the upheavals and earthshaking changes in the economy. That was before anyone was familiar with terms like off-shoring, downsizing, right sizing or free trade agreements. When those people, who really do have our best interests at heart ask when we are going to get a real job, they are referring to those disappearing situations where if you showed up for work every day and did your job according to the company guidelines you could expect a regular paycheck, health insurance, vacation pay, sick pay and a pension plan. But that was then. Less and less companies offer these types of situations, and so it is increasingly on us to create our own better situations.

What has happened is that situations have changed but people's mindsets and perceptions are still catching up to the new realities.

In some ways these new realities are simply going back to the pre-industrial age, when all businesses were small businesses and all farms were family owned.

For a growing percentage of people, our best prospects are to own our own small businesses, maintaining a low overhead and a flexible schedule. When you own your own business, you learn all the lessons about risk taking, but you also learn the joys of becoming financially independent. It is a joy to be able to decide when you want time off, and just arrange for it, without having to ask permission. In a big company, you might have great ideas for how to do something better, but those ideas will often fall on deaf ears unless you can convince an entire committee or hierarchy to listen to you and try it. On the other hand, when you are self employed, you can try your new ideas whenever you are ready.

There are whole categories out there that people outside of it might mistake for a mere hobby. But if you think about it, there is an entire segment of the population, although small compared to the whole, which makes its living doing Renaissance Festivals, or metaphysical fairs, comic book, fantasy and sci-fi conventions. There are merchants who make a fine living selling beads, art supplies and other items for customers to buy and do it themselves at home. There are people who support themselves doing energy healing, psychic readings, various forms of bodywork and various forms of consulting. Since the 1990s, there has been a whole subset of people who do web design, software design and similar stuff on their computers in their residence. Each of these segments of the population are small by themselves, but altogether, they form a part of the active economy, responding to the law of supply and demand.

Obviously some people have been forced into learning about self employment thanks to the machinations of their former employers, and some people simply choose to act on their dreams and joyously endeavor to make a living in ways that others cannot imagine.

It is funny, not in the ha-ha way but in the ironic way to listen to conversations of this type, but this is what it looks like when you are on the cutting edge of changes.

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