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My Jobless Life

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CAREER

And life keeps moving on

So at the beginning of 2016 the resolution I made was to never be broke ever again in my whole life, ever. So I started a home-baking business which has been going very well. I also took up jogging because life is far more fun when you’re fit.

I have been supported in my business by my community in a way I really didn’t expect and I truly appreciate it, and for me this carries through one of my prior posts about the future of business. I really think business is going smaller and everything that is happening in my life right now is showing that it’s true. But then again, we make our thoughts our experience, so it is because of my belief that my life reflects my opinions as reality.

My objective of never being broke again might seem shallow and insignificant to the rest of the world, but I was heartily sick of wondering where the next buck would come from, so I decided to make a buck instead on wondering about it. It might be a self-serving goal, but it’s ensuring that many people enjoy some damn good baking at a very reasonable price.

Next time we meet I’ll tell you more about the jogging and how that’s going for me.

To all my blog friends out there, I hope 2016  is treating you as kindly is it’s treating me.

Love, Netta

 

 

 

 

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Naysayers & Dream killers

I recently had an incident that should have made me feel bad, it should have made me angry, it should have made me doubt myself, but I decided not to give in to the usual drama. I decided not to give the dream killers of the world the satisfaction of allowing their slights and jealousy to threaten the good thing I have going for myself.

When I say I want my life to live and not to answer to someone else’s agenda, people assume a lot about me. Some of it true, yet mostly they couldn’t fathom the pressure that comes with taking as much responsibility for your life as you can. People think that when I say that I don’t want a job because I don’t want to work, it must mean that I, childishly, only want to do what I like. The latter part would be the part that’s true. Yet, living life beyond other people’s definition of what it should be and having to draw meaning and purpose from yourself instead of a societal role, is damn hard and anything but childish

The naysayers of this world are also known as family and friends, well-meaning, but the worst kind of people to have around you when you decide not to conform.  They presume to know you, so family have already painted a picture of who you are and they will cling to that image stubbornly. What kind of love and care measures the image of who you think a person is as greater than who the person themselves desires to be? It’s easy to gather the criticisms, doubts and opposition of those closest to you under the heading ‘Love and concern’, but I don’t swallow it that easily anymore. I have 3 children and I don’t understand why I should stand in the way of their desires for their lives. I don’t understand that brand of love and care at all.

 

Family and friends are there to comfort you when things go wrong. They help you through the tough times and they encourage you in their own way. But people on the whole have a smaller dream planned for you than you have for yourself. The more dependent a person becomes on the support, opinions and approval of others the smaller your dreams have to be. Has no one ever wondered why so many success stories start out with dire family situations which the person has to rise above? I’m not discounting the value of close friends and family wholesale, but in some ways their love and support is an insidious motivation for failure or at least an unremarkable life.

DSC_6994

Those who are step above you, or at least feel that they are, I’ve found to be the best dream killers the world can produce. I seem to run into them all the time. They make the mistake everyone seems to make about everyone else, they think I want what they now have. Well, hello, how did you figure that one out? Dream killers have an intense desire to keep you beneath their station in life. When some people recognise your abilities they mostly do one of two things; or if they’re really slick, both. One they try to use it to their own benefit. Or they try to sabotage your progress to minimize or eliminate you as a threat.

Some dream killers don’t want you to have what they know they can’t. They have their ways and means of making you think you don’t have what it takes, but the truth is they’re talking about themselves. They are the ones who blatantly say that going after your dream is attempting to be superior to who you’re meant to be. They tell to you stop thinking you’re more intelligent than anyone else, when all you were thinking is that you’re intelligent. They ask why you hang around reading books from the library when you can have a secure job that pays slave wages. “Young women like you should be working; especially when you have children,” they say. They tell you to stop doing things that are meant for people much better than you, like being a writer. They try to guilt you into being as small as they are, anything else is hogging the limelight according to them. They’re also the first ones to start sucking up to you when they think you have bit of power or influence that could benefit them. They’re the ones who give medical diagnoses because someone in their family is a doctor. The very ones who told the doctor to become a mechanic or a plumber; the dream killers.

I’m not an adversarial person, I generally don’t get caught up in moaning about how difficult life is and how I need to be cut some slack. Yet, every so often one cannot help but conclude that some people seem to have a vested interest in seeing you fail. Some people appear to derive some strange pleasure from your misfortunes, especially if they’re the reason for those misfortunes.

I’m not one to waste much of my time on those who don’t like me, but it doesn’t mean I’m unaware of them or that my silence means they are getting the better of me. You don’t have to agree with me; just stand aside and do your own thing. You can be sure that I will be.

 

About That Side Hustle…

If were sharing a cup of tea right now, I’d start off by saying:

So, I have to make ends meet right, but the plan doesn’t always go according to plan. So what’s the alternative? A side hustle, right? NO!

First of all I know hustlers and I hate being associated with that word. Hustlers can’t be relied on, they’re only as loyal as the amount of cash they can get right now. I’m not even talking about street hustlers, many people who call themselves entrepreneurs are just running an extended, constantly refreshed hustle.  A hustle has a very short life span, so hustles need to be re-invented every day. It leaves you nothing to build on. That’s not for me.

I know that many successful people got to where they are by working a job to pay the bills and pushing their dreams forward in their spare time. I’ve done that too many times in the past to be fooled by that again. I’m just not capable of looking in two directions at the same time. For me the main thing has got to be the main thing.

I’ve been a reporter for a local newspaper, I’m freelancing/subcontracting with a professional content producer right now and I belong to a citizen journalism group. I’ve got my blogs and books and they are the main thing. My side hustles are off-shoots of the main thing and I prefer it that way even if I don’t make much money from it now.

I’ve committed the next 15 years to make this work and I will not be distracted. I’m a creative person very skilled in various crafts and I have a 16 year career as a bookkeeper behind me, so I got skills. But like I tell everyone else who keeps advising me to get a side hustle, just stand aside and watch me do this.  This right here, is The One. I don’t have a back-up plan, I don’t have an emergency parachute, I’m doing this full-force.

Getting a job on the side says to me that I don’t trust in the process, it says that I am not fully committed. It says that I’m building a quick escape into my dream. The only side hustle I’m interested in is the one that enhances the main thing. I know that if I give my writing 100% of my energy and focus, something’s going to come off it. I just know. Nobody else has to believe in me, it’s ok. I believe in myself enough for all of us.

So about that office job. No thanks, been there.

About that bookkeeping service. No, never again.

Selling jewellery part-time. I’d love to, in a different life time.

Running some organisation.  I’m to disorganised for that, sorry.

Writing a report. Writing a letter. Writing a blog post. Writing your life story. Writing anything, anywhere, anytime. I’m there.

And if we were sharing a cup of tea right now, there had better be some cake too.

Planned Procrastination

Having recently written between 3 and 4 thousand words per day doing product descriptions I definitely think that hovering between writing and running away from it both helps and hurts creativity.

I wanted to write those words because at the end of it all I could say, as I already did, I’d been writing thousands of words for weeks. I wanted the badge. I wanted to have a go at it. I wanted to rush to my laptop and start banging away like a professional. But I didn’t. It didn’t turn out that way.

I also felt overwhelmed when thinking how writing 200 words would leave a minimum of 2800 to go. I didn’t know whether my writing was good enough. Would they smile and say thank you, then edit with a heavy-duty chainsaw? Would I repeat myself and make my writing stale to the reader? Would my descriptions sell anything? I avoided my laptop because I didn’t want to be confronted by all the words I wasn’t writing. I was never going to get anything done, I just knew it. I would miss the deadline and mess up everything for everyone attached to the project. But I didn’t. It didn’t turn out that way.

In the end I made the deadline and got great feedback. I made it by loafing and working hard alternately. I walk a fine line between doing and thinking about doing. The doing would be pointless without time away. The thinking would be pointless without the act.

I have decided that I have a limit of 2000 words in me per day.  Two days spent writing 3000 deserves a day of writing nothing. Days of writing nothing at all should never follow each other. Planned procrastination works.

To create is great. To prepare to create, equally so.

Thinking as a Profession

A good window to stare through
A good window to stare through

As I child I could never quite explain what I wanted to be when I got older. Nothing really seemed good enough or interesting enough, but I knew there was something I was made for. If I had to put it into adult words now, I would say I want to Think for a living.

I wanted to know everything as a child. I remember looking at the covers of the stacks and stacks of books my father owned and wishing deeply to know what was on the inside. I taught myself how to read better English than that taught at school and set off on a journey to find the things my mind was hungry for.

I don’t remember many of the books I read as I child because I don’t think I need to. Those words, those stories, those ideas, journeys, fantasies are written on the inside of my skin and I take them with me wherever I go. So when you ask me about I about a book I own I might not always be able to give you an insightful answer. But I know that if you stare deeply into my eyes you’d see a page being turned each time I blink. I become my books.

There are only two things I believe I can do well enough to make the world a better place. One is being myself and the other is to Think. Thinking requires that all other things be put aside to focus on the Mind and I believe that every society needs those who do the Thinking. Thinking doesn’t produce many tangible results, and when ideas are your end-product the shelves in the shop will remain empty. The highest payment a Thinker receives is a remark like: “I’ve never thought of it like that”, when offering a new point of view. To apprehend an idea, however old or new it might be, is the work of those who are willing to be quiet, keep still and send homing pigeons into the realm of Mind.

I don’t need much to do my work well. Give me book, a comfy seat, a pen and paper and good window to stare through and it’s another productive day at the office.

I’ve Given Up On Life As A Non-Writer

non writerAt this point I’ve completely given up on live as a non-writer because I am finally ready to admit that I’m anything but a non-writer.

I’m a semi-recluse who needs the whole world to leave me the hell alone, so I can think and listen to the voice inside my head telling me things I’d be better off not knowing.

I can’t feel my experiences unless I write them down. I don’t know what I know until it’s shaped into words. I can’t make sense of life unless I my eyes can tell it to my mind. I don’t know how other people know their lives while it remains unshaped and unarticulated. If I don’t write I’ll end up having conversations with myself in the mirror all day. That’ll bring the crazy-police knocking at my door. Can’t have that.

I wish it didn’t hurt so much to write. I wish that I was confident enough not to want to snatch back every word I’ve ever written and return it to that place deep inside of myself where it came from.

I say fuck, shit and hell, and take the lords name in vain when I write. I know that unless I do, I won’t be writing me. So I count on those who read what I write to not be too precious about politeness and instead be more interested in feeling what I try to convey.

I don’t know if I post too often or not, use too few words, use too many words, choose the right topic or get my point across. I don’t know whether I’m too shallow, too deep, too personal or too detached. I don’t know much I just know that I cannot stop writing. I want to go back to writing in my journal and hiding everything away from the world, but it’s too late. Writing is an illness.

I’ve given up on life as a non-writer because writing leaves me no choice. I’m learning to tone down expectation and I’m learning to throw hundreds of words at unresponsive audiences.

Unresponsive is so much better than non-existent.

The Science of Being Broke

When making your own way in this world, inevitably there will be days when you’re just BROKE. Well you can panic, get depressed, or just get used to it, I think being broke has its perks.

Broke-ness makes one sharp and lean, light on your feet and clear of thought. It removes the blinkers so you can see how much is available without money, and how good most of it is. It forces you to use everything you have to make it to the next minute alive. As the saying goes, old wine cannot be placed in new bottles and being broke forces you to finish off every last drop before receiving a fresh supply. Hunger and debt are sterling motivators.

Although it’s crowded, the crowd normally hates being at a special place called Broke.  It’s on the corner where Payday Avenue and Poverty Street cross each other and most people stand on that corner for most of their lives. While we’re kicking it at Broke Intersection why not make an inventory of what we have despite our location?  I still have the ability to write a silly little piece like this and I have never had to pay a cent for it – nor am I being paid a cent either.

I sometimes wonder what it would feel like to be really rich and to be honest it sounds boring and heavy. Having to care for several houses and cars and investment portfolios, jewellery, art and whatever else it is that rich people own seems very tiring to me.  It might be sour grapes, I concede, but I don’t like the idea of wasting time trying to decide which ridiculously expensive shoes go with my equally ridiculously expensive dress.  At a certain point, leather is just the hide of a dead animal, a dress is nothing more than a piece of cloth and a diamond ring serves no real purpose beyond sitting on your finger.

As a person with relatively few possessions, I have a special connection with most of my stuff. Much of it is in excellent condition although some of my stuff have owned me for more than a decade.  I use my possessions until we can go no further with each other in a fruitful manner before we part ways. I’m still under the care of a beautiful corduroy coat I received from my father in my twenties. It’s one of those first-class second-hand items. I don’t know what possessed the person who got rid of it to do so; but I thank their (probably rich) behind every year when winter comes around.

Being broke is not virtuous, glamorous or even compulsory but it just seems to always lurk in one’s immediate vicinity. So while I’m part of the broke crowd I think I’ll just keep my eyes peeled and catch some tips from my compatriots while the hustle to remove ourselves (temporarily only) from this corner is in progress. I know we all are furthering our education in the science of being broke.

picture found on divorcedmoms.com.

6 Reasons Why Mastery beats Market Domination

sumoI recently read that most people want to be entrepreneurs, they want to be their own bosses. That doesn’t surprise me.

What was most enlightening was that they would prefer a business that employs less than 100 people. Now that seems reasonable to me on so many levels; more so than the world domination we all supposed to want but actually don’t.

Here is why mastery seems so much better than market domination to me:

  1. I can become a master at what I do. Everything is so fast these days that before you can even get used to a new thing it’s replaced by an even newer thing. I wonder when people actually get to mastery level in their skill-sets, if they even care about it. Masters keep working at their craft, they keep finding new ways to apply the basic principles and that gives them staying power. Many stars fade twice as fast as they came on the scene because momentary appeal is nothing when it’s not backed up by real skill and experience. I know a jazz drummer who practices every day for hours and has done so for decades. He has now made jazz drumming his own, but he still works at it. The general public might not know who he is, but famous musicians act like groupies when he’s around. They realise that whatever their appeal might be they need someone of his skill and experience to back them up on stage. Now that is something I want to aim at.
  2. It’s easy to do what I love. I like the idea of mastery because then I don’t have to deal with all the crap I actually have no interest in. Although business advice is always to get your fingers in as many pies as possible, mastery cannot accommodate that. That leaves some pies for other to play around with, which hopefully will create a more even spread of prosperity.
  3. I can deal with people who I like to work with. This is one of the greatest upsides of building a small business based on mastery and not market domination. What I really didn’t like in the working world was having to spend day after day with people who I would cross the street to avoid in normal life. Anyone with the right qualifications who passed the interview became part of the team, no matter how poor a fit they were for the rest of the team. That isn’t the environment that produces mastery.
  4. I can serve people who value my work. Rather than trying to capture as much of the market as possible I want to focus instead on building meaningful business relationships with people I connect with. We’ve all learnt the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule, right? It says that 80% of most business’ income comes from 20% of their clientele. I think the remaining 80% should find someone else to work with and I will focus on the 20% who really matter to me. That sounds like I will end up with less work and maybe more money when I cut ties with those I cannot serve well.
  5. I can focus on the main thing. Big business is powered by a huge machine (fancy offices, jets, golf club memberships, executive privileges) which sometimes have nothing to do with the main thing. Keeping it small and focusing on mastery means that I will not be swallowed by the running of the show and end up missing the show itself.
  6. I can leave a legacy. Money is not a legacy, no matter how much of it I make it will always have someone else’s face on it. Having a track record of brilliance and mastery is much more valuable in my eyes than just making a lot of money. Taking the example of money, the currency in my country, South Africa, has the face of Nelson Mandela on every note. He made such an impact on society that now his face is money. He didn’t leave money behind or chase after it while he was alive. By focusing on what he valued the man became a symbol of great value. Now that is leaving a legacy, not an inheritance.

I think it is inherent in human nature to share, and the study that says most people just want a manageable business of their own proves that point. If more people open businesses that employ 100 or less employees, there will probably be more jobs and more opportunity for the greater population of Earth to live a good life.

Mastery makes much more sense than market domination.

photo found on jinji2015.com

MY FIGHT TO GO BACK HOME

When I entered the job market at 19 I didn’t realise it would prove so difficult to shape my working life in a way that suits me. The most difficult struggle thus far has been getting back home.

Work is considered noble and everyone is expected to at least make an attempt at carrying their own weight. Salaried work tops that and when you decide to busy yourself with activities that fall beyond the scope of a job (paid work), something strange happens.

Even before I entered the commercial environment I had been indoctrinated with the idea that having a career is the only way to create a meaningful life. Everything else that life consists of would have to be squeezed and shaped to fit around my career. The minute I decided that I prefer to prioritise my private life over my career, it seemed the whole world turned its back on me.

People started doubting my intelligence and my integrity, my drive was called in question and yes, even my sanity. All this because I want to use my life to pursue my own interests and not to materialise the objectives of my boss or the company that hires me.

Just like that I became a free-loading, simpleton not someone who chose her independence. Not the dedicated bookkeeper who took care of millions on behalf of the companies I worked for. No. Just an unambitious, lazy-ass breeder who wanted to vegetate at home.

Following my decision I couldn’t get a half-day or part-time job because I was bluntly told that those don’t exist any longer. So instead of finding permanent employment I signed up with an agency specialising in temp placements. Immediately I had more money and much more free time than ever before. Most of the holidays I’ve taken in my life was during that 3-4 year period.

I did get a permanent placement subsequent to that, but negotiated to keep my Fridays to myself without a pay-cut, provided I could keep my work up to date. That I did. So much for part-time jobs that don’t exist. Soon after starting the job I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd child. It was the most crucial point in making a decision about how my life would work in the future. Three children are expensive to maintain financially and 3 children are difficult to properly nurture while being caught in the rat race.

The last company I worked for was about 6 minutes from my home, had a moderate to light work-load (something new for me), with a very accommodating manager, but I just wanted my freedom already. They could have paid me 100-thousand bucks a day and I would not have stayed, because I felt I did not own my time or my life. I wanted my home and my children. I wanted to focus all the energy and time that I had been spending minding my boss’ business rather minding my own.

So finally I made the leap to self-employment which would ultimately take me back where I wanted to be. Home with my children.

I feel I was taken out of my home before I even knew that it was happening and not given a choice to decide whether I wanted to prioritise career or family. And no, it is not a no-brainer that I would chose a career. Someone has to raise the children of this world, someone has to create a home, someone has to prioritise nurturing, it’s essential to life. I would have preferred to construct a life where I formulate the mixture between home and work.

I love working, I love the sense of accomplishment and of course I love the money. I will have my children to raise, to nurture and shape for only a short time in their lives and I never explicitly agreed to make them secondary to my career.

No matter how hard I might be working, how I generate an income or what my intentions might be, there is a stigma that clings to those who don’t follow the norm.  Routine hours at designated locations in registered organisations with recognised titles and specified remuneration receivable at particular times gives your life a perceived purpose. You are productive and industrious and that is good. Telling people that you want to live life on your own terms is considered risky at best, irresponsible at worst.

I don’t regret working in my 20’s or 30’s but making a career at the time must have created the impression that I never wanted to work in my own home. I never agreed to that, and afterward had to fight my way back home. I might be financially worse off for it, but what I gain no job can give me. My life, my time, my children and my home.

The way I see it, I can run a business from home and make it fit my life instead of the other way around. If that fails I can always find a good job, I’ve always managed to talk myself into the job I wanted under terms that suit me and I think I can do that again if I have to. Yet, that aspect of my life will have to take a back seat for now.

With the boom of the work-from-home industry (and scams) it would appear that many other women are taking up the journey back home. It might appear that I have given up on the battle by going back home, but reaching home in one piece is much harder than you might imagine. All the evasive manoeuvres I’ve had to pull and battles I’ve had to withstand have taught me skills that stand me in good stead in my independent life.

As an intelligent, skilled and determined woman I retain the option to make my life exactly how I wish it to be. Women were inserted into the working world in a way that did nothing for the homes and children they left behind. There is nothing that I can do about the past but the future is uncharted territory. Meaningful work and a purposeful life does not have to equal JOB.

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