Making Your Own Rules: Ditching the 9-to-5

Making Your Own Rules: Ditching the 9-to-5

I recently had the pleasure of reading Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (only the craziest activities on my Friday night's) written by David Cain of

It was a succinct, interesting and truthful look at the relationship between our '9-to-5' lives and consumerism, and the negative implications; it explains the way our work life pushes us toward mindless spending, that serves 'Big Business' thus building a lifestyle based on instant gratification and overindulgence.

Are we feeding the corporations and depleting our souls in the process? In not seeking anything other than what is easily presented to us, are we really going to find true happiness? 

Throwback, to February 2009. I was 18, and taking a year out to travel.

At the Grand Canyon, loving life!

At the Grand Canyon, loving life!

I was unsure about what my future job or career might be so I put off my studies for a year.

I was also having the time of my life, seeing this amazing place being a highlight of my US trip.

No worries or negative thoughts can dog your mind in such a breath-taking setting.

So much has changed since this photo; after my US trip and university studies I became a self-employed dog-walker/blogger, part-time girlfriend to an amazingly annoying lovely person, and just, a little bit more confident and less cynical.

I guess I have grown into my skin, and into my life. Yet some things never change, or at least haven't changed yet...

I remain unsure about where my skills are best-placed, and which career I would be most comfortable in, but this isn't something I am keen to fix, not right now.

I don't wish to define my life by a job-title, or by the achievements of a career, and that is a big reason why I became a nomad.

 It isn't for the want of a long holiday, or for 'putting-off' the process of houses, weddings and babies, it's because it's what I want to do. Knowing what I want, and it NOT being based around a job/career, feels good; freeing, and not at all extreme, rebellious or lazy as I expect some would believe. 

'Working 9-to-5, what a way to make a living' - the wise (and very rich) Dolly Parton.

So a glance at my resume would show I hold a BA Honours in Media; I loved the debate, the politics and the passion of my degree, but did I learn anything practical? Maybe at times, but it was broadly just a fun and interesting degree, not so much one for career preparedness.

My work history shows I spent six years as a supervisor in food retail; being an organised and efficient person, I enjoyed this role for a while, but I was also stressed and unfulfilled, and left this job when I finished my degree.

I also completed work experience in admin whilst at Uni, spending 1 day a week at a children's charity; I learnt that people seemed to spend a very small portion of their 8-hour day actually working, and most seemed quite disenchanted with the repetitiveness of their routine.

So before even the age of 21, the world of work and the 9-to-5 life made me feel miserable and uninspired, and I wasn't even in it properly yet.

Was this all I had to look forward to?

Well then came working as a customer advisor in a bank. Shit got bad. I HATED that job; my maths was terrible, my boss was a bitter and bored, and maybe had I not left after 4 months, I too would be a haggard angry woman by now.

In summary, I am evidently not work-shy or un-educated; I do value my independence, having a focused routine, and feeling purposeful.

But I still can't imagine doing only one job forever or flitting from one thing to the next.

Never have I wanted to enter into a comfortable job that saw me through, paid the bills, gave me some semblance of a 'nice' life, one actually based on material things and repeated mindless consumerism. If I am spending the majority of my life doing something that isn't fulfilling within itself, and is purely a route to material comfort, something I don't crave, then what's the point?

But the desire to reject this, not just avoid it, has grown in the last two years, massively so.

We all have so much crap.

In 2014, I developed this massive urge to cut-back and refine my surroundings. This coincided with me trying to refine my spending habits and save for my travels, so I was very much trying to untangle myself from my consumerist and cluttered past.

From deleting app's on my phone, to throwing away clothing or make-up, I looked at every place I could in my home to rid myself of material weight.

Is this just a phase? Or is it more a re-imagining of my life and my approach to consuming and therefore the pursuit money in general. None of the stuff in my cupboards or drawers will I take with me forever; on my travels or in death (that escalated). So why do I need it all now? 

"We buy stuff to cheer ourselves up, to keep up with the Joneses, to fulfil our childhood vision of what our adulthood would be like, to broadcast our status to the world, and for a lot of other psychological reasons that have very little to do with how useful the product really is. How much stuff is in your basement or garage that you haven’t used in the past year?" - David Cain.

David points out why we accumulate reams of things that we either set aside and forget, or throw away in the end.

He goes on to say how having more money but less time means he's too tired or overworked for the hobbies he would of enjoyed before his new job; "I’ve only been back at work for a few days, but already I’m noticing that the more wholesome activities are quickly dropping out of my life: walking, exercising, reading, meditating, and extra writing".

By re-entering the 9-to-5 life, he is again positioned into a mould that is brilliant for Big Business, but not so much for him; a lifestyle that millions are existing in, where you are encouraged to fill your short amounts of free time with meaningless spending in pursuit of entertainment.

Your work life dictates your whole life, delineating what time you have to serve your own needs, and the less time you have, the easier you find yourself spending excessively; as David points out, more money, less time, and so happiness is sought in the form of random spending, or 'treating' yourself. 

Big business wins, and I win what exactly? 

The debate I am having here might be not be a new one, nor a revelation, but it is something worth thinking about and so I repeat... Do we feed the corporations and end up depleting our souls in the process? And add, are we all losing, whilst big business is winning; do we realize, and if we do, do we even care?

I would say that many people are savvy, and willing to partake in the whole system; whether you can relate to it or not, many people are happy with their lot. They have grown up in this system and whilst they have the intelligence to question it, they are willing to stay with it. 

Comfort, financial security and routine are not bad things to strive for.

I would NEVER, repeat NEVER, tell anyone how to live their lives.

I am not telling you that the solution is to reject everything and as David Cain puts it, '...shun the whole ugly system and go live in the woods...'.

There is essentially nothing truly horrific about the 9-to-5 way of life and people suffering the poverty of unemployment would give anything to be in that situation.

BUT, I will for the sake of this post, and out of my genuine respect for hard-working people, conclude with the following instead:

It is all about personal choice and not criticising each others life passion's. You are entitled to work as hard, or as little as you wish. If you want millions that's great. If you want to accept a low income in exchange for small pleasures, that too is fine, and not a bad way to spend your days, as long as you are living consciously, kindly and feel fulfilled. 

Life is short and it is yours to shape. The key word being 'yours'; not the Corporation or those in power. But then again I respect your ability to choose that life also.

So; in not seeking anything other than what is easily presented to us, are we really going to find true happiness? YES, with a few small changes we can.

For me, travelling, not being defined by a job or the need to pay for a mortgage, is what makes me happy right now. One day I may settle down and resume a more regular lifestyle when it makes sense for my own personal and emotional needs.

By simply questioning our lives and our place within society, we can better understand our desires and needs, which ultimately will bring us closer to that thing Pharrell Williams sings about. Unless you are already singing with him, if so, cool. 

Back to the 9-to-5 thing, I am not telling people to follow me and Taran, and adopt a nomadic lifestyle, forgoing most material comforts, but at least, respect and understand us and others who choose to.

Recognise we are neither 'hippies' nor lazy or undecided about our lives; we just choose to opt out of the system we were born and raised into.

We ditched our jobs and lives in England, and now explore the world, and then bring it to your computer screen or Facebook feed. We will deliver the world to your door, but not to merely entertain, but maybe inspire you, to one day open it, step outside, and say goodbye to the 9-to-5... at least for a little while.

Note: These Are Hannah's own personal thoughts on this topic but she quotes content from this Excellent Post By David Cain in order to argue her points.

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Thanks for reading!

Hannah and Taran here. We hail from Southern England, where we met online and are now realizing our mutual passion for travel here at Nomad'erHowFar. We discuss Nomadic Living, Simplifying your Life and Long-term Travel, to empower, motivate and inspire our readers. Get to know us here!

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