Dealing with long term unemployment

This idea was passed to us by Lee a long term listener. He told us that he had been forced into retirement for medical reasons at 42 and is left with the question “now what?” He now finds himself struggling with motivation trying to check job listings and get going again.

Ed and I see ourselves as long term unemployed, that is, we don’t work for people we work for ourselves. We do that on the basis that we have the freedom to do what we want when we want and are not tied to the whims of an employer. In reality I spend half my time as a consultant in the NHS and the rest of the time I am in companies or seeing people privately. I know that both Ed and I probably work many more hours, and many of them unsociable hours, than we would if we were employed. Yet, we both hold the concept of ‘chosen unemployment’ and perhaps, in many ways, that is the point, it is not what we do it is how we see what we do that counts.

In our hours of employment there are times when we both do what would be termed ‘work’ for little or no money. I see people, who need it and are unable to pay in the normal manner, for free and Ed is a committed charity worker with the blind.

How do we define work and not work?
Every species on the planet wakes up in the morning and gets on with it’s life. The activities of survival, food and water, building a home, creating a relationship and raising the young are common to all of us. We as human beings, have broken away from all other species with the invention of money and our developed acquisitive drive to own stuff.

Money has put us in the position where we no longer have to kill our own meat, make our own milk and cheese, weave our own cloth, cobble our own shoes. We have become the specialist in ‘non-productive’ work that we do in exchange for tokens that we then exchange for the things that we need, or for the stuff that fill our houses. Society has become not about who we are, the skills that we have to offer, or the contribution that we can make for the good of us all, it is now about how many tokens can we gather and keep for our self? People with lots of tokens are called ‘rich’ and those with only a few, or no, tokens are called ‘poor’.

Money, money, money
When in general people describe themselves as ‘unemployed’ they are not saying that there is nothing to be done they usually mean that they are not in a position to exchange their time for token, for money.

When this happens to us we have become poor and we have to rely on others to give us tokens as benefits or charity. These concepts sway who we are, how we see ourselves, how we are seen by others and how we act. Often we will give a rich bad person with money status and poor good person without money little or no status at all.

When we value people by their ability to get tokens we down grade some of the most important jobs in life. At the dinner party, when strangers meet, the first thing they ask each other is “and what do you do?” The answer to this question is given status usually related to the amount of tokens an individuals role in life is worth. The worst praise ever uttered at a dinner party is “I’m only a house wife”. Strange as this is probably one of the most important jobs on the planet yet it attracts no tokens at all.

We need to, ‘love people and use money’, not the other way around and we need to remember that ‘it is the love of money that is the root of all evil’.

In many ways unemployment is not a state of fact it is a state of mind. There are always things that need to be done, or that we enjoy, that employ our time but will not give us tokens or money for doing them. At the end of the day one has money and the other has not yet, that have both been employed for the same amount of time.

In that sense we are all employed. Cows, fish, apes, birds, humans we are all employing our time. Sometimes it will be for profit as food, shelter, money or stuff and sometimes it will be hobbies, pleasure and fun, and I guess I should include illness and recovery, it is all employment, it is all using our time.

In a money economy we are often driven to do things that we don’t really want to do to get the money. This can often be at the root of our lack of motivation to get going once we have been out of a money producing role due to illness, retirement, redundancy and so on. I have worked with many women who have been employed raising a family and running a home who, when the last child leaves home, feels the need to return to earning again, yet the roles and options open to them do not excite them and make them want to go out and do them.

I guess this is why Ed and I describe ourselves as ‘unemployed’ because we both do what we want to do and we both enjoy what we do, so for us we are just living not working. Some of our life is paid and some is given for free.

In this episode my resource was one of my favourite books by Joe Vitale called ‘The Attractor Factor’. This is a good work book that asks you questions that require that you look at what you are and what you are doing now and then gets you to hone down your ideas until your are really clear about what it is that you ‘really’ want to do.

When you know the answer to that question you are at that point when you join us in the ranks of the paid unemployed because you are now no longer working you are living. It is just that you get paid for it.

So often getting motivated is not about ‘pull yourself together’, or ‘get a crack on’, it is about actually wanting to do it. We just need to decide what the ‘it’ really is. Then life begins to make sense and you can work towards becoming the version of you that you really want to be.

So, ask yourself the question:
“What do you really, really, really want from your life?” Your happiness and fulfilment just might be in your answer.

Take care and be happy

Sean X

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