For the editor:
I sympathize with people who don’t like the idea of working 9am to 5pm. Who likes the idea of constantly putting aside their authentic self to fit in and be under the control of management, who can let you go at any time?
Recent layoffs at Meta, Twitter, Redfin, Shopify, Flipboard, Dapper, et al. are reminders that:
Your work does not belong to you.
All jobs are temporary and disposable.
You are a free agent.
You should consistently save at least 20% of every paycheck.
You must constantly develop skills that add value to your employability.
I understand the 9-5 call.
All the turmoil in the labor market over the past four decades due to recessions, jobs being sent overseas, erratic consumer demands, a global pandemic and today’s supply chain issues Today coupled with runaway inflation have made downsizing so common that when the media announces layoffs, we barely shrug our shoulders. Yet despite the constant turmoil in the labor market, wishful thinking has many believing that a “stable job” is not the oxymoron it has become, but is still more stable and less risky than to go alone.
A self-employed person (an entrepreneur or a freelancer) plays with his livelihood. Despite what people preach, it takes more than strategy and hard work to succeed in the world without 9-5; luck plays an important role. First, you need to resonate with a large audience, then, here comes the hard part, delivering something of value that your audience is willing to pay you for.
Years ago, I was told that luck is a key ingredient to success on a Friday morning around 2:30 a.m. in Times Square in New York City. It had stopped raining. My friend was trying to hail a cab to take us back to Hackensack, New Jersey. I took out a cigarette and realized I didn’t have a lighter. A bent man was passing by, so I asked him for a light. Without saying a word, he pulled out a Zippo. I commented on the beauty of the neon lights reflecting off the wet pavement. My new friend closed his Zippo. As he walked away, he said, “For every light bulb on Broadway, there’s a thousand broken hearts.”
The talking heads of the internet, peddling lessons they’ve barely learned, preach that the entrepreneurial/freelance lifestyle should be everyone’s dream. They would like nothing more than to start a #HireYourself movement. Ideally, they don’t mention the loneliness, fear, constant instability and chronic worry that often accompanies such a lifestyle.
These days there is so much noise about the best way to earn a living; these are largely just stories made up by influencers, a subjective label, trying to manipulate you to their advantage.
A phrase designed to make you miserable: If you work 9 to 5, you’re working for someone else’s dreams. Isn’t it possible that working for someone else will help you live your dream? Your dream might be to save enough money to retire at age 55. Your dream could be to play golf every weekend with a clear mind. (When you own a business, you think about it 24/7.). Your dream could be as simple as earning enough money to pay the rent, eat, and enjoy some of life’s pleasures while having two days off a week to relax. Today, around 734 million people around the world live on $2 a day, a 9 to 5 job that protects them from extreme poverty is an unimaginable dream.
There’s no shame in wanting and being happy with a 9-5 job. Most people just want to show up, get their jobs done, get paid, and have evenings and weekends to enjoy their lives and try to accumulate some savings – a financial cushion for the inevitable “Sorry, we don’t we don’t need you anymore”.
Not everyone wants to work from home, have a side hustle, or become a millionaire. Money is not everything. (Gasp!) The happiest people I know are those who pursue purpose rather than money.
A trend among influencers is to tell their followers to quit their jobs because they’re being taken advantage of, so they too can earn $5,000 by creating content like writing a blog or newsletter, podcasting or making videos. Yes, it’s possible not to work a 9-5, like millions do, but you’ll be constantly working and hustling for your next gig.
Influencers make their money selling dreams, hopes and emotions. Their business model tells their subscribers what they want to hear. In order to make money they have to tell thousands of people that they have a foolproof methodology of 5 easy ways to make money and then digitally entice you to buy their book and course or attend their virtual boot camp to learn secrets and skills. this will prevent you, God forbid, from depending on an employer to earn your living.
I’m sure your social media feeds, like mine, are full of self-interested motivational quotes and posts designed to inspire people, especially those who haven’t settled on a career path yet (READ: young, impressionable , has not yet taken on full adult responsibilities), feel guilty if they want to be a doctor, an accountant, an engineer or a chef.
At my age, I am deeply rooted in the corporate world; thus, it is easy for me to see through these attempts to make unhappy those who have chosen to be an employee. In my opinion, their sales pitch amounts to, You can be good at working on someone’s dream, but you don’t feel good and you don’t look good. So why not blow your 9-5 to become a millionaire and get plastic surgery?
So what if a person is happy to trade their time for money?
Everyone has different circumstances. Being an employee is much safer, especially if you get into the habit of saving 20%, than going alone.
Many people buy into the self-serving narratives that influencers sell. First, they write a blog, but even if they try, they can’t drive traffic to their blog. Then they write a book; only it doesn’t sell because there are thousands of books evangelizing what they evangelize. Then they created a YouTube channel and uploaded their home video, Ten Ways to Cook Eggs. DAMN! NO VIEW!
Much of the madness, toxicity and photoshopped imagery that primarily populates social media are desperate attempts to generate the number of subscribers and viewers seen as a requirement for becoming an influencer and escaping their 9-5. .
Random people on the internet bragging about their supposed four-hour work week gives many the idea that hustling 24/7 is the life they should lead.
Welcome to the culture of hustle.
I have seen first hand the consequences of participating in the hustle culture.
Constantly feeling the need to be busy. (A recipe for inducing anxiety.)
Wanting to bring everyone around them into the cult of “productivity”.
Being disrespectful to those around them whom they perceive as less ambitious than them.
Feeling guilty for having a good time, socializing or having fun.
The definition of success varies from person to person. How someone defines their success is personal. You’re no less human because a 9-5 job works for you, as it does for most people. Don’t let “influencers,” whose goal is to make you unhappy to be an employee, and then conveniently sell you their solution to the unhappiness they’ve created, steer you otherwise; don’t forget to save 20%.