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Today we have a special guest post by my good friend, Joel D Canfield, as he conducts his Virtual Book Tour for his latest book, You Don’t Want a Job: Why Self-Employment Reduces Your Risks & Increases Your Rewards.

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Every human being alive deserves to spend every moment in a state of constant awe.

If you don’t, if you don’t find everything, *everything* fascinating, I’d like to suggest one possible reason.

Your job.

Modern life revolves around the job. Modern science provides plenty of evidence why that’s not necessarily your best option for a fulfilling life.

Here are some quotes from my newest book, You Don’t Want a Job. Since I’m not a scientist, and possibly not even modern, they’re from a couple chaps you may have heard of. Just in case you’re not familiar, I’ll introduce them both. (Emphasis in the quotes is mine.)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Flow

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is noted for his work in the study of happiness and creativity. He is best known as the architect of the concept of flow, the altered state of consciousness we sometimes find ourselves in when totally engaged with a challenging task. Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association, described Csikszentmihalyi as the world’s leading researcher on positive psychology.

Csikszentmihalyi on why it matters what we do for a living, and whose job it is:

“Because for most of us a job is such a central part of life, it is essential that this activity be as enjoyable and rewarding as possible. Yet many people feel that as long as they get decent pay and some security, it does not matter how boring or alienating their job is. Such an attitude, however, amounts to throwing away almost 40 percent of one’s waking life. And since no one else is going to take the trouble of making sure that we enjoy our work, it makes sense for each of us to take on this responsibility.” — Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, p. 101-2.

Abraham Maslow and What We Need

Our second expert is Abraham Maslow, whose name is forever tied to his theory of self-actualization as illustrated in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

From Maslow we learn that personal growth, not complacency, is the path to happiness.

“All people in our society (with a few pathologic exceptions) have a need or desire for a stable, firmly based, usually high evaluation of themselves, for self-respect, or self-esteem, and for the esteem of others. These needs may therefore be classified into two subsidiary sets. These are, first, the desire for strength, for achievement, for adequacy, for mastery and competence, for confidence in the face of the world, and for independence and freedom. …More and more today . . . there is appearing widespread appreciation of their central importance, among psychoanalysts as well as among clinical psychologists.

“Satisfaction of the self-esteem need leads to feelings of self-confidence, worth, strength, capability, and adequacy, of being useful and necessary in the world. But thwarting of these needs produces feelings of inferiority, of weakness, and of helplessness.” — Motivation and Personality by Abraham H. Maslow, p 45

Jobs and Happiness

It took me 25 years to learn the lesson that working for an unpleasant person, doing a pointless job for too little money will suck the fascination right out of you.

If you love your job you are in a tiny minority. According to Forbes, 87% of Americans don’t like their jobs.

Even if you do love your job, I’d like you to consider how your life might be more interesting if you had autonomy over what author Dan Pink calls “the 4Ts” in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us:

  1. Task
  2. Technique
  3. Time
  4. Team

Autonomy and the 4 Ts (and Why It All Matters to You)

If you have a job, you can be called on any moment to surrender control over what you do, how you do it, when you do it, and who you do it with.

Entrepreneurs must find a balance; you can’t have total autonomy over all four without isolation and overwhelm.

But when you’re holding the reins, you have autonomy over your levels of autonomy!

What If You Like Your Job?

I personally believe that everyone should be self-employed, whether an entrepreneur or a freelancer, a person who sells their skills to other entrepreneurs (but still doesn’t have just a single job.)

You may like your job. You may feel safe and secure. You may enjoy the simplicity of letting someone else make the tough decisions and take the risks.

But the age of the job is ending. Very few people will live out their working life at the job they have now.

I hope you’ll pause to consider how self-employment would not only increase the rewards Csikszentmihalyi and Maslow describe, but reduce the risks of leaving your fianancial future in someone else’s hands.

Get the book.

Bio: About the author: He may have taken a knock to the noggin in his leap off the hedonic treadmill, but Joel D Canfield still manages to string sentences together most days. Though he pays the bills as a web developer (self-employed, of course) he’s managed to write and self-publish his 10th book, released this month. Its cheeky title is You Don’t Want a Job and he believes every word of it.

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3 Comments

  1. Great stuff, Joel. I like it.

    But if I get all philosophical and assumption-challenging-devil’s-advocate-like, I might ask a few questions. Of course, you know I am coming from a position of someone who holds a corporate job, so my views are in that bias.

    And now, as I try to make a case for a corporate job, I feel silly, because you have shared your personal beliefs, and I can’t really argue against those. So it seems somewhat pointless to try to share my feelings, but for some reason I feel the need to share them with you, maybe only to get better clarification of what you mean, or to find a way that your message can be more congruent with my philosophy, since it will be posted on my blog.

    So help me clarify this statement, “I personally believe that everyone should be self-employed, whether an entrepreneur or a freelancer, a person who sells their skills to other entrepreneurs (but still doesn’t have just a single job.)”

    I think my initial impression might be adding some exclusivity into it that you may not intend. If everyone were just a lonely entrepreneur selling their skills… then we wouldn’t be able to achieve large accomplishments that require an organized effort by a lot of people (like building airplanes for example :)

    I think you might mean that everyone should sell their skills as an entrepreneur, in addition to being part of various efforts that require organization if you are interested in the larger purpose.

    Maybe some more words can help clarify that.

    Another counterpoint (which may be pointless opinion) is that when you sign up for a job, yes, you do trade complete autonomy for some security and simplicity in decisions, but you might do it because you believe in a greater cause, and you want to be a part of making that cause happen, so you’ll do whatever is necessary to move the cause forward. Sometimes that involves taking out the trash or talking to angry customers, something we might not want to do, but we believe in the cause enough that it’s worth it.

    I suppose that might be similar to being an entrepreneur when entrepreneurship and complete autonomy is the cause. You’ll handle the required selling and the intermittent paycheck because the ’cause’ of autonomy is worth it.

    I think I’m simplifying it here because when you are talking about the majority (or some percentage) of people who don’t really believe in the cause of the company, or can’t wait for the weekend or to retire, then you are absolutely right, what are you doing with your life?

    Anyway, I just wanted to share my thoughts and get them off my chest, because I knew you could handle it, and what good are friends if they don’t challenge your assumptions?

    I want to be an entrepreneur AND a corporate employee. Can I do that?

  2. Excellent points.

    I think what I need to add is that as an idealist, I’m talking about a perfect world.

    In a perfect world, you could do exactly what you’re doing now, but as a contractor, with more control.

    Wikipedia and Linux are two classic examples that show a worldwide disparate group of people can create and realize a grand vision.

    Did you know that every single Volvo is handmade by a 6-person team? Each team is almost entirely autonomous. Small teams mean that when someone is missing, it’s felt by their closest workmates. Reduces absenteeism by a huge proportion.

    Our expectations of work are based on what we see now, and I understand that my vision of “no employees” is an ideal, not something we can do by next Tuesday.

    I’ll be explaining it all in more detail in my post at Caitlyn James’ “Imagining Better” website.

    I love your point about taking out the trash or talking to an angry customer. Nobody enjoys those specific tasks. It’s belief in the cause that makes them enjoyable, and that’s whether you’re an employee or entrepreneur.

    My vision of utopia wouldn’t, for instance, eliminate Boeing. What if every single person there were a contractor? What if everyone were there because they wanted to be, because they believed the vision, and not just because it was a paycheck? I know that in any large corporation, there are lots and lots of people who believe. But there are also people who are just there putting in time, and if there was another way to make a buck, they’d go do it.

    The corporate employee model makes it easy for slackers to slip under the radar. It makes it easy for CEOs to rake in millions, even when the company is suffering.

    What if your 6-person department had the authority to fire a slacker and replace them with a believer? What if the company as a whole could fire the CEO without severance, for non-performance?

    If each individual were aware that acting in the best interest of the company was the only way they kept their contract, everyone would behave differently.

    And what if you could spend 3 days a week at Boeing, and one day a week working for a videographer, and one day a week taking classes in trade for some skill of your own?

    You’re used to showing up at the office at a particular time, 5 days a week, and whenever they call for overtime.

    What if you went in when there was work to do, and left when it was done, but still made the same money because you were paid for outcomes, not hours?

    • I knew there was something bigger and deeper you were talking about. Thanks so much for the clarification. I’m totally on board with the sentiment you’ve explained here.

      It’s funny how you framed it in your idealistic, perfect, utopian world, but I think you’re not too far off. People have already started talking about that concept within the company, where organizations could post tasks that need to be done, and people could choose to work on those tasks, essentially balancing the work fluidly without the complicated process of posting job listings and hiring heads into your group. It’s still a pipe dream, but the idea is out there.

      Someone shared this Amazon Mechanical Turk link that I had never heard of: https://www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome . I was amazed and astounded. This is the future. No one can complain that there aren’t any jobs out there. (I wonder if they got the name from Seth in one of his earlier books.)

      I also know about fiverr.com which is a similar concept where people will do all kinds of things for $5.

      Thanks Joel. I think you’re right… a new work world is coming.


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] 7th &8212; At Rex Williams' blog, Why Aren’t You Fascinated Any More? Rex is fascinated by curiosity. He's writing an entire book about it. This post connects curiosity [...]

  2. [...] 7th — At Rex Williams' blog, Why Aren’t You Fascinated Any More? Rex is fascinated by curiosity. He's writing an entire book about it. This post connects curiosity [...]

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