Off the Beaten Path

Mark Foster used to think about making a living without being in a rigid environment. A former shoe salesman, he recently began a new position as an auto broker for an Atlanta bank. He now works when HE wants, and for as long as He wants. His average income may well exceed $60,000 this year.

There are others who are changing their work environments totally around and as a result, are living richer,fuller lives. They’re doing work they actually like or enjoy and are having more time for their own interests and hobbies. And you can do the same.

Pamela Kay has several years experience in clerical work, yet was very unhappy. There were no longer any challenges, and she was passed over for promotions several times, due in part to office politics. She stuck out her position for 6 more months, and when she had enough in savings, resigned. She then returned to school to study journalism(her first love)and began to do volunteer work for a local cable station in video production. Miss Kay’s income level has dropped(temporarily) but she feels more at peace with herself. “I feel that if I’m working at something I enjoy, hopefully the money will come along and the other rewards, tangible and otherwise,” she stated.

There are several alternatives to the 9-to-5 routine. Some of these are: 1. FLEXTIME-A work schedule that allows flexible starting and quitting times, but still requires the same amount of hours as a structured job within a certain time period.

2. COMPRESSED WORK WEEK-Full-time work done in fewer than five days a week.

3. JOB SHARING-Two people who share one full-time position.

4. FREELANCING AND CONSULTING-Self-employed(with a service to offer the public)who can work either along the lines of a traditional job or can “set up” their work time as they choose.

5. WORKING AT HOME-Self-employment or otherwise, that can be done in one’s own home.

6. WORK THAT CAN BE DONE ANYWHERE-Work is in demand or needed throughout the U.S. or world.(Examples: computer programming, selling, such as shoes, real estate, nursing, doctor care, service repair, etc.)

7. TELECOMMUTING-Employees working at home while linked to the office by a computer.

8. PART-TIME-Less than full-time, BUT also includes job promotions,benefits, leaves equal to full-time help.

9. LEAVE OF ABSENCE-Periods of time off work, while retaining job. Can be paid or unpaid, usually taken for family, education, or leisure time.

The problem is there are still many businesses that hold on to the routine. None of the abovementioned options are available, or because of the nature of the work(hospitals, outpatient clinics), the options aren’t feasible.(So they claim.) But these options have been a common practice in European countries for years. And it appears to be a huge success.

There’s one characteristic that sets these people apart, and that is, they’re risk takers. It takes a lot of confidence and courage to strike out on your own. But the risks can be minimized by becoming very skilled at what you do and letting others know of your skill. Having some cash saved helps greatly, for independent work might take time to generate decent income. And a plan to further reduce upsets or setbacks.

The biggest fear in “working free” seems to be money, when making the transition. But to some people who work on their own, they’re prepared to accept the possibility of lower wages. To them, having more free time EXTENDS a person’s freedom.

But there’s no denying that there aren’t worries about having enough cash. And earning a living by your own wits and strategies requires great inner security, for it’s not a safe way to earn a living.

Rewards? The biggest one would have to be having a chance to work in your particular field of interest and to discover you can earn with it on YOUR OWN TERMS. Another reward is personal growth, which can be learning a new skill, increasing one’s perspective, or developing hidden talents.

For Mike Waxler, it was finding out that he had a flair for communication. A former assembly worker, Mike was laid off his job and started seeking employment in the same field. Having no success there, by accident he found out about a position working with the elderly. The results have worked very well. “We all get along and I really enjoy my new occupation.”

Another reward can sometimes be better productivity. An obvious reward is simply freedom and convenience.

One of the first things a person who leaves a standard job notices is that the social contact is suddenly diminished(Exception being part-time work). This could be very lonely, but these people are finding methods to create a social network that serves them in the same way. Sometimes these networks evolve into institutions(Example: The writers and artists who gathered at Gertrude Stein’s Paris home in the 1920s).

Close friendships are very important for those who perform non-traditional work. Sometimes just one good friend is all that’s needed, but for some, telecommuting is the answer.

The advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web has completely changed the concept of work as we know it. And for the better.

Pamela Kay now has immediate accesss to job opportunities across America and throughout the world, can e-mail and post messages to other members for advice and support anytime.

“This particular technology has opened doors for me that wasn’t possible before,” Kay said. “And the Internet is a great equalizer; you’re limited only by YOU.”

In conclusion, working on one’s own terms is not without risks, but for many, it has enabled them to gain extra time to fully develop their potential. Some have their true calling, job-wise. Others have actually increased their income by working part-time! Working less can reduce the stress and pressure that occurs in certain jobs, and bring better health for the worker. Other benefits are more time to spend with the family, learn a new skill or return to school(having enough energy to concentrate on your studies!), to travel on one’s own schedule, or simply relax. Having 9-to-5 alternatives gives a person extra time to discover themselves.

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