Saturday, 21 March 2009

A new plan

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how life is too short to be stuck at work for most of my waking hours. The thing that keeps my nose to the grind is probably lack of money and FEAR. Fear of the unknown, fear of poverty etc.

Work is all consuming. I'm too exhausted after work and at the weekends to have time to do anything for me. Sometimes we come up with the energy to go hiking, if we can manage the 40 minute drive out of the city (one way).

DH and I have been discussing a new escape plan. We think that we might be able to manage another 2 years in our present field. Thereafter we plan to take a long sabbatical. Perhaps for six months or so. DH would have to resign to do this. I really cant see his employer granting him an extended leave of absence. We want to take the time and space to re-evaluate exactly what it is we want. During that time, we may put the apartment on the market as it will be easier to show if we are not there all the time.

We think that we want to downsize to a semi rural area. Since they wont let us in the US or Canada we have been looking at North Devon as an alternative. We are hoping that by that time the economy might have improved and we might get a decent return off our savings again. We are also thinking about ways that we can work for ourselves or do some part time work.

City living has lost its appeal for me. I want something closer to nature and something more real. I want to connect with something. Most of the time I feel like I live in a concrete jungle. But I'm also scared that I will be isolated in somewhere like North Devon. But the thing is that I feel isolated here most of the time. But that's the strange thing with living in a city, there are people everywhere but none to connect with.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

All or nothing

The big thing that bothers me most about traditional employment is that it is offered on an "all or nothing" basis.

I am not afraid of hard work but I want some balance in my life. I dont want to spend most of my life in an office. Please dont think that I am ungrateful for being in work. I do know how lucky I am to have work now.

It seems to me that the traditional 9 - 5 office type work/career does not offer this balance. How many people are lucky enough to work part time out of choice or have a flexible work schedule? I don't know any employers who offer this.

A few years ago I did some locum work at a local firm of Solicitors. Someone in my department had gone on maternity leave and wanted to return to the office for 2 days a week. Lets call her X. I told my boss that actually if he was minded to grant X's application for flexible working then I would be happy to job share with X at 3 days a week. As soon as I opened my mouth I wish I hadn't said anything. My boss said but "what will you do for the other 2 days?" I said oh well "lots of stuff". I felt like saying well I will just be glad to be out of the cage for 2 days but I didn't. But it was the look he gave me which said it all. It was almost as if he could not comprehend why I wouldn't want to work 5 days a week and earn as much as possible.
Anyway it didn't happen.

I read many blogs written by people who want to downshift/downsize etc. There are many discussions about how people will make the transission from a career to early retirement or even semi retirement. They think that if they get bored they will just get a job at McD's or Starbucks et al? But how easy do you think it is for an accountant or a lawyer or an engineer etc to get a job in Starbucks. Its not easy at all. In this economy one would have great difficulty. The problem is that in a recession or times of economic difficulty your plan B is someone else's plan A.

So is there another way? Is there a middle ground? Or, is it the 9 - 5 grind 5 days a week until you manage to become financially independent?

Is this a revolution?

Will things ever be the same again?

Will there ever be a sustainable and secure way of living?

Will we ever have peace of mind?

Will we always have to put up with a transient and temporary lifestyle?

Will people still buy houses and put down roots or will they rent a house and rent a lifestyle?


Are we perpetually doomed to have to scrape together a living?

Are we always going to have to take contract work instead of permanent and long term stable employment?

Are we always going to have to live with economic uncertainty?

Is the concept of a vocation dead?

Just some thoughts I have had recently.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Still at the job

Well, I've been at the new job for over 2 months now.

I like it. But its not a permanent gig.

The role I am doing at the moment involves practising in a different area of law to that in which I usually practice. Don't get me wrong, I've done it before but not for a while. But nothing much changes. At the end of the day its still involves general litigation practice so I am not out of my depth, well not too much anyway but the firm I work for realise that I am a bit rusty but its not a problem as I can refer to someone if I need to.

Actually, what I am doing now is really a nice change. It is slower pace and there appear to be more opportunities in this area of law. I am actually thinking of giving up on my usual practice, I really enjoy it and its dynamic and ever changing but quite stressful and there are few opportunities.

What I am doing at the moment is recession proof. At the moment I need some stability and I need a role which is sustainable.

I don't need a lot of money to live on. I am not greedy. At the moment I save all of my pay. I can afford to take a 40% (gross) pay drop and still save for the escape. I would prefer to do that than have to continually do locum work. The last two years have been hell for me mentally given the insecurity of work but fantastic for the wallet. But I am slowly learning that money is not everything, no not at all. I would prefer to earn 50% less but have the peace of mind of stability of employment and to be able to take regular vacations.

Those are my thoughts at the moment.