The Dangers Of Working For A Living

Two people I know just lost their day jobs. One of them is in her late 20s, and the other is in her 50s. Regardless of their age difference, they are both recently unemployed, and are thus facing the same frightening question: What happens now?

The default reaction is to start looking for a new job.

This makes sense. After all, when you have a job you feel safe. You become acquainted with your routine of going to work and receiving a steady paycheck. So even when the job is stressful, unfair, or not enjoyable, you can always feel safe by reminding yourself: “It’s a paycheck.”

Wait a minute — this makes sense?

Selling yourself into indentured servitude just to feel safe make sense? Strong emphasis on the word feel because you’re not actually safe — not when your supposed safety zone can be vanquished with the simple phrase: “You’re fired.”

I know what you’re thinking — that won’t happen to you. You’re good at your job. You’re a hard worker that’s been with the organization for umpteen years. They’d be crazy to get rid of you. In other words, you feel safe.

Fact of the matter is, layoffs aren’t always made as a result of employee evaluations. Budget cuts, downsizing, buyouts and outsourcing are all circumstances that are economic, not personal — meaning your job is at risk even if you’re a model employee.

I’m certain that the two people who just lost their jobs imagined it would never happen to them, because while still employed, both of them suggested I apply to work for their respective employers.

It’s as if they felt sorry for me that I am unemployed, and wanted to help me by reaching out and including me in their safety zone — as if they were saying “Come on in Shaun, it’s safe here.”

Although I appreciated their kind gestures, I declined.

I had my own plans, and working for someone else didn’t mesh well with them — I wanted to work for myself. is currently my only source of income. Some days I make as little as ten cents. Other days I make between five and ten dollars. I can’t pretend that I am unconcerned about finances — but I will proclaim that I am happily unemployed.

In other words, it feels empowering to be responsible for my own earnings. When I fail to publish new content to my blog, I notice a definite decrease in my site revenue. On the other hand, if I manage to write a popular article then my site revenue naturally increases.

By choosing to work for myself, I am made responsible for my own fate.

Admittedly, it’s challenging to accept this responsibility. If I fail, then it will be my fault. Consequently, I don’t always feel safe, I occasionally become discouraged, and the difficult path I have chosen often intimidates me.

By the same token, fear can be a powerful motivator. Since I don’t want to face that feeling of self-induced failure, I’m determined to succeed.

Being faced with a feeling of self-induced failure is probably the primary reason people are so anxious to work for someone else. What else could cause them to so willingly seek out jobs where they’re overworked, underpaid, and/or miserable?

“To feel safe” is not a valid reason for me anymore. I’d imagine someone that’s had the unfortunate experience of being unexpectedly fired would feel the same way — but I’ve learned that’s not true. The so-called need to “get a real job” has become so standard that people are evidently blind to alternatives, even after you’d expect them to have learned the hard way.

Fact of the matter is, there are alternatives, and if you’re courageous enough to embrace your inner genius and follow your life’s calling, you’re bound to find your own non-standard path of living.

If you’re still not convinced, or need help determining your life’s calling, then I encourage you to read:

  1. Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address
  2. Brian Kim’s How to Find What You Love to Do
  3. Steve Pavlina’s 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job
  4. My series on How To Automate Your Income Online
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17 Responses to “The Dangers Of Working For A Living”

#1 Steve Olson on 09, Jun, 2007 at 11:25 pm

This is a fantastic post. Best of luck to you. Jobs are jobs…I have a job and wife is an entrepreneur and it puts ud in the top 5% of income earners… I fully expect to be self-employed in the next several years. I working the get rich slowly plan. I love to see young guys like you with so much wisdom and understanding of what you are building right now. Live life on your terms… You inspire me! You should check out Today is that day. it is run by Aaron Potts… I think you’d love it.

#2 uberto on 09, Jun, 2007 at 11:37 pm

I would suppose your two friends to be saying,
“Depending on someone else for a living sucks,
but so does ten cents – ten dollars a day.”

How do you live, in mama’s basement ?

#3 saving advice on 10, Jun, 2007 at 6:33 am

It is definitely possible to do although it takes a lot of hours and dedication. I would encourage you to diversify – just like you don’t want to place all your money into one investment, the same is true with your online ventures.

#4 Shaun Boyd on 10, Jun, 2007 at 8:03 am

@Steve Olson
How great it is to hear that I inspire you. It is supportive readers like yourself that help encourage me to continue writing. Good luck to you in all endeavors. 😀

#5 Shaun Boyd on 10, Jun, 2007 at 8:06 am

Yes, I live in your mama’s basement. Please tell her that the next time she goes grocery shopping she needs to buy more chicken flavored Ramen for me.

#6 Shaun Boyd on 10, Jun, 2007 at 8:21 am

@saving advice
Although I understand what you’re saying, and to some extent I agree, I won’t be doing that just yet. LifeReboot has shown an upward trend in its readership and revenue in the two months since its debut. I feel that right now, my focus is to create consistent, original, quality content for LifeReboot — any attempts to diversify will probably not occur until after LifeReboot’s first year. Thanks for commenting.

#7 OMouse on 10, Jun, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Good article. I’m just wondering how you fill up your days? Reading novels? Doing Sudoku puzzles? Editing older pieces of writing?

#8 Morris on 10, Jun, 2007 at 5:27 pm

Truth of the matter is, that I was asked to come on board and I’m the only designer on staff. I guess its not impossible but I think if I were to get fired, it would be over evaluation……mwahahahahaaaa~!

Most excellent post

*two thumbs up*

#9 Shaun Boyd on 11, Jun, 2007 at 9:33 am

I spend a lot of time in my local library. There I can write articles, read books, borrow movies, and use a computer — Public libraries are excellent consolidations of free resources. I exercise thrice a week and occasionally go swimming. I’ve planned a trip back to my hometown on the east coast so I can go surfing. Whatever I’m choosing to do, the great thing about it is that my website is earning me money while I’m doing it. It may not be very much right now, but as long as I continue writing, I’m confident the exponential trend in its earnings will continue. Thanks for commenting.

#10 Shaun Boyd on 11, Jun, 2007 at 9:35 am

I appreciate your consistency — you’re regularly leaving positive comments and I am so grateful for the support. Thanks as always. 😀

#11 OMouse on 11, Jun, 2007 at 1:05 pm

Thanks for the answer 😀 It sounds like your time is being used well!

#12 cj on 11, Jun, 2007 at 2:17 pm

“Public libraries are excellent consolidations of free resources” Tell that to the folks of Jackson County Oregon where all 15 branches of the public library system have been closed since April.

#13 Lauren on 19, Jun, 2007 at 10:40 pm

Thanks for the tip, CJ – I will be sure to not move to Jackson County Oregon!

Shaun – I think I love working in the library, but I also love baking pies. Is it possible for me to become a piebrarian? Seriously though, I admire you so much. I realized today that I’m making minimum wage in my time at the library and you are probably making twice as much – so unfair 😉

#14 Shaun Boyd on 26, Jun, 2007 at 3:06 pm

I would support your decision to be a “piebrarian” — then I could go to the library to read, write, and enjoy some freshly baked pies. Mmmmm. Thanks for commenting, and for telling me that I’m admirable. 😀

#15 Ugh... on 22, Jul, 2007 at 7:33 pm

I think it’s a little dangerous to tell people to simply not do the traditional job thing, for every successful person there are a million failures. For every one rich person there are 9 that are struggling.

Lets just pretend if everyone was trying to make money from blogs like you were doing, the whole economy would tank.

Capitalism depends on trapping people in jobs to maintain society,
you couldn’t maintain society without the resource deprivation model of work extraction.

#16 4 Eva Young - Success : Motivation: Personal Growth on 04, Sep, 2007 at 8:09 pm

[…] The Dangers Of Working For A Living […]

#17 Keith on 29, Nov, 2007 at 12:56 am

Well, survival is necessary before one can try out a new venture…it’s a matter of how far you are willing to extend yourself. If you can jump into something, work day and night until it *works* and never have to “get a job”, great indeed. Nice article, though, and thanks!!

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