ERINWORLD - your personal guide to wellness


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Erin - photo at the Giger Bar in Chur, Switzerland

Wonderful Work

Most of us spend more time working than any other activity, even time with family or sleeping. The type of work you choose will have a huge effect on your happiness overall.

Look at work in new ways

Consider work to be an opportunity to work at something you consider important, or as a way to be paid to push the world into the direction you want it to go, rather than nothing more than a tiresome vehicle for obtaining income. It would be very unfortunate to spend that many hours of your life energy on something that worsens the state of the world, takes advantage of people, or does not mesh with your values.

Think about what you want to do every day, and what's important to you personally, then find out what careers are likely to suit you. There are many online and software tools available for these self-assessments. The References page lists several.

Consider also the work environment. By choosing employment that is more physically active part or all of the day, that will keep you healthier and eliminate or reduce the need for a gym membership or planned exercise on your personal time. Consider this: Office workers in Northern climates have higher cancer rates and also have higher rates of depression. Personal support/health workers have the highest rate of depression of all careers. Those in active and skilled trades are, in general, happiest and have half the depression rate of office workers. Keep these types of work environment issues in mind as you figure out what you want to do. Early on in your life, try a variety of jobs to see what you like - or cannot stand!

"The Job" or "McJob"

When people call their long-term employment a 'job' rather than a career, it's typically something you are ambivalent or neutral about, but remain in simply because it pays you enough that you live comfortably and can get your bills paid, even though you don't really care about the work you're doing or may even dislike it. These jobs trap people as it's easier to stay in something mediocre than to leave when you have bills to worry about. Some people remain in these jobs for years on end until, for example, their mortgage is paid off. If you are in a situation like this, I encourage you to leave as soon as possible once you have the ability to do so! Life energy is best spent on something you find personally fulfilling and inspiring! At the very least, make sure that you try something more than a "job" at least once in your life. You will be very glad you did.

Living your dream

One of the biggest stumbling blocks people face to having their dream career is the fact that it may not pay enough money to support the 'American Dream' standard of living they hoped to have. Many (though not all) helping, international development, health, or environmental careers - which typically fit perfectly with the ideals of many people, or their desire to change the world - pay fairly low wages. Some careers also require $40,000 or more of investment in education at universities and the resultant painful debt load for years after.

Despite these challenges, I hear again and again that people do not regret moving from soul-sucking or ambivalent jobs into work they truly love. Keep that in mind. There are many, many methods to reduce you daily costs of living so that a lower paying career can still keep food on your table. Here are some tips:

  • Buy quality used 2 year old subcompact and compact cars that have very high gas mileage ratings. Cars depreciate rapidly in value, so it's an expensive mistake to buy one new. Reviews of the most durable cars are available online.
  • Consider an electric vehicle by Tesla Motors (best in class!), Toyota, Nissan, or another reliable electric vehicle manufacturer.
  • Better yet, take transit if possible. You'll save THOUSANDS of dollars every year in loan costs, gasoline, maintenance, and insurance, by eliminating car ownership.
  • Stop eating out so frequently at restaurants as it will rapidly erode your budget. It's healthier to eat at home, too, and you date will appreciate a home cooked candlelight meal just as much.
  • Always share accommodations, either with a significant other or a roommate. This instantly halves your accommodation costs.
  • Eliminating most red meat, dairy, and convenience foods from your diet will reduce your food bill substantially. See the nutrition page for more tips!
  • Buy a small home that is well insulated, and walking distance to a transit stop and things like parks and convenience stores. Used older homes are often a good value and more centrally located that new suburbs, not to mention easier and less time consuming to maintain than a McMansion.
  • Do your errands all at once (which saves gas and time), and avoid the temptation to just go out shopping to kill time. Most people cannot resist the urge to buy something when they browse in a store. It adds up, so don't go shopping in the first place.
  • When doing errands by car, plan the route so it's a big loop and involves all right hand turns. A study by UPS found this saved significant amounts of fuel due to waiting for less time at lights and avoiding backtracking.
  • Get to know people who appreciate frugality and know there is more to life than keeping up with the Joneses c/o your credit card.
  • Moonlight: get a second job. There is no reason you can't work two jobs instead of one, provided you are not tiring yourself out and the hours aren't excessive. This also allows you to explore alternate careers part-time while keeping the bills paid.
  • Are you interested in being outside, gardening, and organic farming? Consider volunteering for a few weeks at an organic farm (in return for food, shelter, and experience) through the WWOOFing experience. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms!

Work has always been a part of life, and always will be. It makes a person feel useful and fills their time, using up much of their life energy. Find work that is fulfilling and suits you. If it does not pay as much as you'd like, but is something you love, reduce your expenses and live more frugally so that you can take on that job! You can also try building multiple streams of ongoing income such as by taking stock photos and writing paid articles for the web on a regular basis. It is better to do something more fitting and enjoyable with your work life, rather than get paid a lot to spend hours a day doing something you hate or that kills your soul and is at odds with your core values!

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