Downshifter Makes Short-Term Peace With Her Day Job

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Photo by nicollazzi xiong on Pexels.com

My not-so-secret plan for years has been to quit my job at the post office after we paid off our house. Well, we finally made that final mortgage payment last month (cha-ching!), and guess what? I’m still working at the post office. And for the reasons I’ve outlined below, I’m almost even enjoying it (or at least it doesn’t suck too badly), for now.

Freedom

Somehow, knowing that most of my income is now disposable makes going to work every day much more palatable. Working because I want to and not because I have to feels incredibly empowering and makes work much less stressful. While I still haven’t taken the leap to what I consider the ultimate freedom — making my own schedule — the freedom of being mortgage-free is pretty sweet.

Money

Maintaining a healthy emergency fund and growing my “freedom fund” have always been priorities, but my savings has been accumulating at an even faster rate now that I’m mortgage-free. I’ve also bumped up my retirement account contributions by a few  percent. Woo hoo!

But I’m not just stacking up paychecks and watching my savings grow. I’ve also loosened up the purse strings a bit and let myself buy a few things that I deferred while I was hyper-focused on paying off the house and turbo-saving for my early retirement — like the cool new Chromebook that I’m writing this on. Plus, income from my day job not only supports my own creative endeavors, but also enables me to support my favorite writers and creators by purchasing their books, subscriptions, and other products.

Health Insurance

After researching my options, I found that decent private health insurance is sooooo expensive, and cheaper health plans have huge deductibles and don’t provide much coverage. My health insurance at work covers pretty much everything and is insanely cheap. And while I’m fortunate to be in excellent health now, I’m not getting any younger. 🙂 

Schedule and Routine

I admit, I’m still not fond of my early-morning, 6-day workweek. That’s probably the toughest part of the job. But the upside (as I keep reminding myself every morning when my alarm goes off at 4:30) is that I’m free most afternoons to do whatever I want — like write, or take a nap. I’ve almost got that whole work-life balance thing down. Plus, I feel a little lost without some kind of outwardly-imposed schedule. After a vacation, I appreciate getting back into the comforting routine of work.

Social Stuff

I like my co-workers, and I have strong hermit-like tendencies. I need to get out of my head and into the real world on a regular basis, and work forces me to do that. If I didn’t have a job to go to every day, I’d probably never leave my house. Except maybe to go to the liquor store. That would be bad.

So maybe I’m a weirdo, and maybe I’m just scared to make a big change right now, but while I’m figuring out my next move (if I even have one), I’m embracing my current reality and enjoying the ride. I make a conscious effort every day to focus on the many positives of my situation instead of the few negatives. Practicing this kind of mindful acceptance isn’t always easy, but I’m learning to be happy where I am and not stress about it. It just feels like the right thing, for me, for now.

~PEACE~

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A Few Good Reasons to Appreciate Your Day Job

Find your passion! Follow your dreams! Quit your day job!

Great advice, but what if you’re not ready to follow it? Maybe you don’t even want to. There’s nothing wrong with earning a decent living from a “day job” while nurturing and developing your creative side outside of work. Most of us weren’t meant to be or do just one thing. We’re complicated individuals, with multitudes of interests and abilities. We were never meant to define ourselves by what we do to earn a paycheck.

Austin Kleon sums it up perfectly in his bestseller Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative:

“The truth is that even if you’re lucky enough to make a living off doing what you truly love, it will probably take you a while to get to that point. Until then, you’ll need a day job.

A day job gives you money, a connection to the world, and a routine. Freedom from financial stress also means freedom in your art. As photographer Bill Cunningham says, “If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do.”

A day job puts you in the path of other human beings. Learn from them, steal from them. I’ve tried to take jobs where I can learn things that I can use in my work later — my library job taught me how to do research, my Web design job taught me how to build websites, and my copywriting job taught how to sell things with words.”

Your day job buys you some breathing room in the budget. It pays the bills, and hopefully provides you with some savings and disposable income for travel or other meaningful expenditures that contribute to your overall happiness.

Hopefully, your day job offers you additional benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings, to further enhance your (and your family’s) financial security.

Having a day job takes the pressure off of pursuing your passions, making it easier to enjoy them when money isn’t a factor.

The structure and schedule of a day job forces you to use your free time more efficiently.

Your day job may provide more social interaction than the “lonely creative life” of an artist, writer, etc. You may also make valuable contacts and connections for your freelance/consulting/side-gigging self.

You can learn valuable skills at your day job that may transfer into other areas of your life, both now and in the future. Everything you’ve done in your life so far has made you who you are today. Don’t discount any of it.

You may be passionate about some aspects of your day job, such as marketing or workers’ rights, that keep you engaged and involved in activities you enjoy.

Maybe you actually LIKE your day job. It’s OK to admit it! It may not be what you dreamed you’d be doing at this point in your life, but if it meets some of your needs and makes you happy most of the time, there’s nothing wrong with that.

~PEACE~