Ah, the question we face every time we bump into people on a totally different path to ours. The head-cock, the appraisal and dismissal of our life as sustainable.
“Wow, your job as a (insert alternative emloyment) is really cool, but you’re not gonna do that forever right? When will you get a real job?”
How I loathe this sentiment; that my life cannot be forever, that I’m just going through a phase and my lifestyle cannot be sustained – that I will somehow pay for my choices down the line because, ultimately, we must all fit into the box that society created for us. And if you don’t put in the time to make your box nice early on, you will suffer later.
Well screw you society, you’re not my real mum anyway!
Actually my real mum (and dad!) are all shining examples of how these “phasal” jobs (a term I’m coining for all jobs only considered worthy of a few years of your life, before you rejoin ‘normal’ work-life) can be life-long careers.
After all, one person’s reality is another one’s dream.
EVERY JOB IS PART OF A LARGER INDUSTRY YOU CAN MOVE UP IN
The short-term, phasal job you see is only the first or second branch of that industry’s tree that, while niche, definitely exists. And like any industry, many only want to do that job for a few years, before you move up the tree, or sideways into a different branch.
Take my parents. They’ve taught TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) for years, working in various countries and then in the UK when I was born. They worked in Language Schools, private secondary schools, and universities, as teachers, then teacher trainers and director of studies.
They would spend every May and June travelling round Europe as English examiners (Italy, France and Spain mainly), and now they freelance as consultants and teacher-trainers wherever they like in the world – from Argentina to Thailand.
Sounds alright doesn’t it?
YOU HAVE TO INVEST TO MAKE IT IN YOUR DREAM INDUSTRY
So, living the dream. It often takes money and/or time to reach the lofty canopy of these magical trees, and a lot of people give up and return to the safety of the corporate bushes (hey, if it was easy everyone would do it!).
Like in the scuba-diving industry. First you pay to become a dive instructor, then you are not guaranteed an income after. You have to be a great team player, motivated, good at sales, and it helps if you can speak more than one language. If you are lucky you can earn a good wage (for your tropical location), but the average career expectancy of a dive instructor is only 3 years.
You either leave the industry, or you become a manager, an instructor trainer, or set up your own dive school. It’s an investment, but you have to invest in courses in a lot of corporate jobs too.
After you make it, these are lucrative and sustainable for life, and you may even end up working directly for PADI or another agency, and so get a pension, insurance and other trimmings of “a real job”.
CREATE YOUR OWN DREAM JOB BY SETTING UP A BUSINESS
So far, these jobs/careers all sound great, but there is a lot of competition for these dream jobs, and ultimately you are often still working for someone else.
So what about going it alone? Can you set up shop by yourself, on very little budget, and become a successful entrepreneur?
Scott Gerber is one of those sickeningly successful entrepreneurs who has several business’s and even written a book on how to never have a real job (entitled, you guessed it, How to Never have a Real Job)
In today’s economy, he writes, it is increasingly harder to find a job, and the possibility of getting let go is all too real a threat. Instead, it could actually be less risky to start your own business!
His advice to starting out alone is simple.
1: Curb your ego, but not your enthusiasm – you’re probably not Branson II
2: Keep your idea simple
3: You don’t have to be original – look to tried and tested business models
4: Keep your start up costs low and focus on turning profit
5: Be prepared for the worst case scenario – because it will happen!
WHAT TO DO IF YOU WANT TO DO EVERYTHING
There is a certain type of person who will be reading this and not feel satisfied. The thought of doing one job, pursuing one career, even a ‘dream’ one, still makes them feel trapped (hello, quarter life crisis).
These people are what Barbara Sher, author of acclaimed book “What to do if I want to do everything” terms as ‘Scanners’.
In my professional life I’ve been a: waitress, fundraiser, bartender, night club promoter, record label intern, scuba videographer, dive instructor, TV production assistant, TEFL teacher, restaurant assistant manager, social media marketer, content writer, 5* resort general manager, yoga instructor, and retreat owner. I’m 32.
It’s not that I don’t try at things. I immerse myself fully into the task in hand and successfully complete them, but I find many things interesting and when other people tell me their projects and passions, I want to do it too!
This means that I do not have (nor will I ever have) a “real job”, I will never be a high-flyer. Instead, I am more of a wide-flyer, and have what is termed “a portfolio career”.
So maybe you want to juggle a few part time jobs, or work seasonally in different places, or you have your main ‘anchor’ career and indulge in extra paid passions outside of this.
I now split my time between running the surf and yoga retreats in Portugal, and teaching yoga in Munich, Germany. I also write content for sites from home.
This is not just an option for those who are figuring what they want to do with their life, or are switching careers, but can be the end goal in itself. An increasingly large amount of people are choosing to live their professional lives this way – so remember, you really don’t need to ever have a real job.
So to recap – there are all sorts of jobs for all sorts of people out there.
If you stick at something that most people only consider a ‘phasal’ job, you can work your way up and be at the top of your industry, from TEFL to skiing to surfing.
You don’t have to just have one job or career – scanners can have portfolio careers, and it’s ok to do this.
Network! Talk to people, there are jobs and opportunities you’ve never even heard of waiting for you.