Monday, 14 February 2011

The quest for balance

The major problem with working the grind is lack of balance. Its an all or nothing scenario.

The major aim of the escape, was to achieve balance in our lives. Instead of living in a concrete jungle and working 5 days a week we wanted to move away from the central focus of our lives being about making money. Now we have achieved that, but we still do not have the balance that we crave. If you like we have gone from "all" to "nothing". From being on the go all the time, to not having very much to do for long passages of time all week.

It was never our intention to give up working completely. We had built in the need to do some part time work as part of the escape plan. I am too young and have too much energy to sit around and do nothing. The scary thing is that the less you do the lazier you get.

We always thought that we would find some part time work. Something fun to do, nothing to do with law. Perhaps we would work in food retail. But the part time job seems to be very elusive. Strangely, most jobs seem to be full time or 20 hours a week spread over multiple days. We don't want to work multiple days, and we don't want to work nights. Its seems that we are living in an area of high unemployed, where the local workforce is largely unskilled and so the sort of jobs that we are looking for are probably in high demand.

And lets face it, we could do with the money. One thing that I failed to appreciate before planning the escape was that you need a certain amount of money to entertain yourself when you have a lot of time on your hands. I never thought I would say that. You see when we were working the grind in the concrete jungle, all our spare time was spent doing free things in the outdoors, we were gasping for the outdoors and that fresh mountain air, literally.

I dont know what the solution is. Perhaps where we are is not the place for us long term. It would be lovely to achieve that balance though.


Jerry Critter said...

Sometimes you only achieve balance by going to the extremes first. You've done that now, and you may bounce back and forth for a while, yet.

Work isn't all bad. It fills the time and does provide money with which you can do other things. Part time work is great for that. Part time work that you can take with you is even better. Computers and the internet allow you to take work with you to some extent.

I can see that you are already thinking along these lines, so I doubt I am providing anything new here. I am just throwing out my ideas as they come to me.

You are doing well and will find te balance you are looking for in the future.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Dreamer said...

Hi Jerry, Happy Valentines Day to you too :) I do agree with you, that work isnt all bad, thats a big step for me because I used to think that all work was evil :) Part time work is the way to go, if you can get it! I hear what you say about the internet, I think about what I could do over the internet but cant come up with anything really. I think in a way it would be nice to get out and meet people face to face though through work.

Jerry Critter said...

I know you said you wanted to stay away from law, but...that's where your experience is. Is consulting a possibility? You would have more control over your work load. Of course one of the problems with consulting is getting the business in the first place. Again, I am sure these are all things you have thought about.

Dreamer said...

Hi Jerry, the major drawback from doing that ourselves is the price of professional indemnity insurance (to cover negligence claims from clients). I understand that the premiums for this can start out at a range of between £20k - 50k per year, a huge outlay for a small business. And as you say you then have to find clients, then you have to get em to pay (which they dont always do :))

I also wanted to have a less stressful life away from the combat zone if that makes sense.

Having said that though I do keep my ear to the ground and if a consulting position came up locally working for someone else then of course that could be the answer. Problem is that consultants are a bit of a rarity these days in my line of work, the market is saturated with lawyers and I dont think that my field is specialised enough for me to be attractive to someone as a consultant. But its certainly not something I would dismiss.

Jerry Critter said...

You are right about the insurance. I work as a consultant in another field and while my insurance is not as high as a lawyer's, it is still substantial.

Rick and Pat said...

Hi Dreamer...
You went very quiet on me.. I hope I didnt upset you with my honesty ...
I agree with you about the work thing.. although we dont work for money as such. If I didnt have all the land , growing the food and logging ect... Id not have anything to get out of bed in the morning for... and Id go bonkers...
Every intelligent person needs a reason to get up for... you just have to find yours..
Best Wshes

Dreamer said...

Hi Pat, no not at all, something took me away from our conversation I probably got distracted or having one of my blue days. I'll e mail you shortly:)XX

ermine said...

Some of the self-sufficincy might be a good half-way house between part-time work and not work. You can drastically reduce your costs that way, but it is hard work.

I have been in a desk job for over 30 years, and the challenge of chopping wood, or today, taking pasrt in digging a couple of 3ft holes for gateposts is not easy. But some degree of self-sufficiency does drastically give you control over your cost base, and can use as much time as you have spare ;)

Salis Grano said...

Getting a regular earned income, even if small, to cover some of the basics would give your long term finance a big boost.

I guess you want a couple of full days a week, rather than a few hours every day (I know I would), but you probably need to move to a more populous area to increase your chances.

If you don't have a good idea for self-employment, maybe some kind of admin-temping or even retail? Lower paid than you will be used to and not very interesting, but crap jobs can be made tolerable if the social side is good.

Tony said...

I was really startled by this post. I had been thinking for several days on the topic of 'balance' and how important it is go get that right in one's life. I was fast coming to the conclusion that getting the balance right is everything - then, hey presto, you wrote a blog post on that very topic! Humans are creative individuals, and we need to be productive and creative in our lives, even if we don't get paid for it. There are other key ingredients we need such as to love and be loved, adventure, exploration, etc. Getting all these lined up, in balance, and making sure the bills are paid too is a major challenge. I see many of life's problems as basically a situation where something has got out of balance. Talk about keeping all your plates spinning. Thanks for this timely reminder that balance is important, and a challenge!

WeeMike said...

I agree completely about the need to find balance having been trying to find it myself for a number of years.

I thought I had found it in working on the apple orchard over the last few years, however, recently this turns out to not be the case.

Me and my partner have just spent the day asking some deep and meaningful questions and we've realised that what we had planned for ourselves would not achieve what we really wanted deep down.

And reading your post has just made me realise that it's about a balance that we are happy with - and it would seem that our big travel challenge is not going to create that balance we actually desire.

I think we, like you, may have gone looking for balance in the wrong place ... and that's not intended to be nasty in anyway towards you ... but I think sometimes we get caught up in the beauty/appeal of somewhere without perhaps seeing the bigger picture maybe??

Anyhoo, I better log off the interwebs - need to continue our face to face deep and meaningful chat, well after a large coffee that is!!

Dreamer said...

Ermine, yes self sufficiency could certainly kill a few birds with one stone

Salis, yes exactly in and out over two days everyweek is what we are looking for, it doesnt really matter what it is doing as it is only two days a week. But gigs like that seem to be non existant. I think you are right that we probably do need to move to a different area to get those sort of gigs, but been there done that dont want to move back to a busy urban area. And yep, it doesnt matter if it is a low paid crap job.

Tony, balance seems to be the key doesnt it. And its not all about money, sometimes a little bit of routine and certainty is not such a bad thing.

Mike, I look forward to hearing more about your new decisions. I understand what you mean about looking in the wrong place for balance, about being caught up with going to or being in a particular geographic place. Slowly I think I am learning to accept the geographical limitations of where we can actually live. Acceptance is the key as they say :)

Retired Syd said...

You know, I'm beginning to think there's no such thing as striking the proper balance. I think it may just be a part of life that we are always adjusting to our latest set of circumstances to find our balance again.

Like you, I thought retiring from my job would give me the balance I yearned for, and for a couple of years, it did. But then I needed some more action and so we did a lot more travel. Then my husband got tired of the traveling and so I took a little part-time job, which as you suspect, is a great way to balance out the two extremes.

But now, having done that for about 6 months, I'm yearning for a little more down time. I'm only working 1 or 2 days a week, but I find myself thinking about what I'll have to accomplish next Wednesday while I'm hiking on a Sunday. And I don't like that. For me, the balance may be to cycle in and out of work every few years, I don't know.

I think the bottom line is even after you get the balance perfect, it just won't feel perfect in a few years and you'll have to change it up again.