The average person works a typical eight-hour day. Yet many people expect their work not just to ensure their existence, but also to give them meaning and purpose in life.
How do you exit the rat race and find something that’s fulfilling to return to every day? Utopia presents five suggestions.
1. Step Off the Treadmill with a Four-Day Workweek
How about starting with simply working less? Researcher Alex Williams at the University of London wants to see the extinction of classic 40-hour workweek. “Imagine if … we had a three-day weekend every week,” he swoons in The Conversation. The four-day workweek would clearly result in more free time for everyone, but Williams also theorizes that this would further be good for the environment. He calculates that one less day of work per week saves the energy not only of twenty percent of the commutes, but also an entire day of electricity needed to power every office.
But most of all, we would profit personally from such a change: less work stress would lead to better physical and psychological health. We would all have more time for our friends, families, exercise, and hobbies. The third weekend day, for example, could be used to make more things ourselves rather than buying them – one possible way in which any wage adjustments could be balanced out.
A four-day week could result in an incredible increase in personal freedom – assuming, of course that your employer and your budget will allow it. Consider the possibility and discuss with your employer if a reduction in hours would be possible – it never hurts to ask.
2. Find Work that Does Good
You’re unsatisfied with what you’re doing every day? You’d like to find a position in which you’re helping the greater good? This seemingly abstract desire can quickly be translated into a concrete job: numerous “green” job portals make it possible to hone in on meaningful employment opportunities more easily than ever. Job listings come from renewable energy companies, various non-profit organizations, foundations, development projects, or sustainable enterprises, for example.
- Greenjobs: listings for environmental specialists, offers volunteer positions abroad
- The Changer: its tagline is, “Jobs for people who change the world”
- DevNetJobs: positions in the development sector
- Escape the City: interesting site for everyone who’s looking for more meaning in their work – offers more than green job listings
3. Jobsharing: Two People, One Desk
Another way to change the pace and structure of your work is through jobsharing, in which two employees share one position. Tandemploy is one site where people interested in jobsharing can search for one another. The site also lists companies that are open to jobsharing positions. Once you’ve teamed up with your ideal work partner, you can apply together directly for positions of interest. You and your partner could decide, for example, that one of you works three days per week and the other two. One practical benefit: during vacations or extended illnesses, the perfect substitute is already in place. Not only does the company benefit from two people who know the ins and outs of their position, they also take advantage of twice the knowledge, problem-solving skills, and creativity.
The team at Tandemploy wants to make it possible to translate traditional full-time positions into functional part-time teamwork – even complex positions within leadership structures. Last but not least, jobsharing ensures each worker has more time for other paid or volunteer work, for their familial responsibilities, or simply for themselves.
4. Standing Still? Try Continuing Ed
If you feel you’re in a dead end, reactivate your brain: begin living the idea of lifelong learning. Why not start a new degree program, or go to university for the first time? Your age isn’t a barrier. There are lots of retirees auditing university courses that will make you look like a spring chicken!
You don’t even need to take up a full program of study – just a few continuing education courses can help you get out of a rut. Numerous online offerings – also called Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs – offer university-level courses via videos and readings you can access from home. Two well-known sites are Coursera and Edx. TED is another platform with video presentations in a variety of fields.
5. Give your Dream Job a Test Run
What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up? Park ranger, zookeeper, gold miner, or tailor? The website Descape offers working excursions worldwide.
Descape takes you beyond your desk and into a wide variety of possible working worlds, alongside wildlife rangers, foresters, wine makers – whatever your heart desires. There are many existing offerings, but it’s also possible to place a request for your desired job directly with Descape.
Escaping reality does have its price, however; seven days as a wildlife ranger in Costa Rica, for example, costs around $900. But there are cheaper offers available, such as a day with a custom jeans tailor for $100 or carpenter for $130.
These externships offer a break from your everyday and are guaranteed to get you thinking outside the box. And getting enough distance from your daily routines is sometimes enough to inspire reflection on and creative solutions to your current employment dilemmas.
by Victoria Scherff