What Would You Be Doing If You Didn’t Have To Work?

A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness. ― Leo Tolstoy

What is the dream, exactly?

Most everyone dreams about not having to go to work. Holidays and and other breaks in the routine of the daily grind are looked forward to and cherished when they arrive. This dream is what drives the lottery players and those stuck in dead end jobs… “If I just didn’t have to work…”.

What would you do? The answer seems to be “I have no idea”, at least if this conversation is accepted as normal. Most people say watch movies, learn a language, read more… For the rest of your life though?

I believe this is one of the main obstacles that keep people from changing and living the life they desire. There is no clear definition of what you’ll do for the rest of your life, so you stay in your loveless job… you keep eating too much… You keep doing all the things you do because you don’t know what else TO do… We all talk about the dream. But what, exactly, is the dream?

Doug and I ran into this issue when we found ourselves hurt and sitting home… recovering… wanting to change our life but not knowing what to do. It was almost a physical pain trying to see past our current situation and decide what we want from life. We still don’t really know with clarity yet, but we overcame the roadblocks and make forward progress every day.

There must be goals
Doug is not cut out for being a monkey of leisure...

Doug is not cut out for being a monkey of leisure…

The first couple weeks of staying home after my injury were great! I didn’t get up at 4:30 am… I didn’t have to ride for over an hour to get to work… I slept in and did whatever I wanted. There was no structure and it got boring quickly…

I began making lists of chores… Basically, I went back to work. I was lost without my identity and my routine. I started to get depressed.

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, what to do with work out of the equation, and my self esteem took a nose dive…

This is what keeps us doing jobs we despise… We ask ourselves, “What else would I be doing?”. If the answer is “I don’t know”, nothing will change.

I decided to think about what I want from life, career wise as well as just living in general. There was a blockage in my psyche when I tried to imagine a different life for myself… I finally managed to get some goals dragged out of my head, and to write them down:

My ideal life

If I didn’t have to work, I would begin creating every day. I would write and create art. My spiritual path would be something else I would expand upon.

If money wasn’t an issue I would travel more with my wife, since that is one of her dreams. We would spend more time in the Southwest. We’re both Easterners, and the Southwest is beautiful and exotic to us…

If I could do exactly what I want to do, I would write, I would create and I would help others to heal themselves.

I discovered that I want to create and to help others live creatively. Traveling is part of my dream too. My goal then, is to be able to create, be creative and help others to live creatively, and not be tied down while I do it.

Now I have actual goals to work towards. My efforts will be towards a positive, actualized vision of what I want to do besides the drudgery of a 9-5 “career”… If all I had was a foggy sense of “not working” as a goal unto itself, I would not have the incentive to work hard and try to achieve it. Sitting around watching Netflix is fun for a few days… After that, it feels like a waste of time and of life…

This blog is one step in my plan to reach contentment. I’ve found I enjoy interacting with others, and hearing about how my posts have inspired them.  I am content right now…I just need to figure out how to turn this feeling into a path through life…

Exercise

What would you be doing if you didn’t have to work, if money was not part of the equation? If you can figure this out, you’re a good ways along to knowing what you should be doing with your life. Ask yourself the following questions, and write the answers down:

  • What would I do if I didn’t have to work?
  • What would I be doing if money wasn’t an issue?
  • What exactly do I want to be doing with my life?

Until you have answers for these questions, you’ll never change your life. We, as humans, don’t like change. Without something better waiting for us, it never happens…

Oh, No! disorder is next!

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41 comments

  1. If I didn’t have to work and i had the money to do what ever i wanted, I would travel and do voluntary work ( as sitting at home it’s my thing) – but I am still working on the goals part, don’t know how to get that much money without winning the lotto or robbing a bank….. So its just a thought process

    1. If you have the goals then the how has a chance to fall in place… Keep defining your dreams… The what is more important than the how, at least in the beginning.

  2. I was a homebuilder . . . I quit at about 57 . . . sold the big house and built a cabin in the woods . . . I live with my wife, a bunch of dogs and cats, and a couple (far enough away)neighbors . . . no money, but no bills.

    10 years or so later I’m still love it and rarely leave my property. . . . I create structures/paint/repair guitars/write and think . . . nothing for money cause I am independently wealthy with nothing . . . I wouldn’t know lonely if it bit me on the ass . . . I think creativity is the answer.

    1. It sounds like you have it figured out Jim! You probably have a lot of useful insight to share… I’m glad you’re blogging about it. I may tread down a similar path after the kids are grown…

  3. It is amazing how miles of highway give me the time to question what would life look like if I could do exactly what I wanted. And as I was driving for several hours today, I spent some time with this question (coincidence? maybe not). Anyways, I haven’t figured it out yet. Sometimes it is a goat farmer, sometimes a vegetable farmer, sometimes it’s a writer, sometimes it’s a truck driver, sometimes an adult educational teacher, and sometimes a baker of artisan bread. So the jury is still out at this time. But what I do know is that I need a creative outlet, I would prefer some social time, and time to produce something that can contribute to the well being of the community. Sounds like I might have my own blog post brewing here! Thanks for asking.

    1. I understand. In my last job, my car was my office. I was in it nine hours a day, plus over two hours commute… Lots of time to think.

      I’m a firm believer in synchronicity, so coincidences don’t exist (to me)…

      You have a lot of interesting ideas. We’re thinking about getting a couple goats for milk. We grow a lot of produce and have eight chickens… I considered making goat cheese and soap not that long ago… Did you ever see the movie “Goats”? with David Duchovney? It has mixed reviews, but I loved it… It kind of fits in with what we’re talking about here.

      You’re ahead of the game but at least knowing a few things you would love to do… Keep at it!

  4. My journey at the moment is so similar to yours! I lost my job, not through injury, but I was retrenched a couple of months back due to a downturn in work. Luckily after being with the company for a number of years, I was given some redundancy pay, holiday pay (all those holidays I hadn’t taken!) and some annual leave pay. This has allowed me to take time to start reassessing my life. What was interesting is that just a short time before losing my job, I discovered a book at the library called ‘The Passion Test’ by Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood. It helped me to define my passions and what I would prefer to be doing in my life. It was as though the universe was preparing me for what was to come! Starting my blog was one of the ‘actions’ I could take towards my dreams. (Sorry about the long comment!)

    1. Hi Penny- It does seem like we’re traveling on similar paths at this time! It’s exciting to feel like “real” life is beginning, isn’t it?

      I’ve been discussing synchronicity with a couple others today and I think we have a bit more of it right here…

      Don’t apologize for the length of your comment. I appreciate you taking the time to write and share your story. It’s comforting to hear the stories of others who are going through similar situations and are doing all right.

      A lot of us on here are using our blogs as a step towards our dreams… I feel it’s important for us to support each others efforts.

  5. Just thought I’d like to add this quote of Joseph Campbell’s: Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.

    1. I fully believe this…

  6. I love that you encourage your readers to think about this. Often people never stop to do this, and we never have a dream to work towards… So we just kinda stagnate.

    1. Exactly. “Not working” is the absence of something, and not tangible. There has to be an actual idea, an endpoint to work towards, or it’s too easy to give up in frustration.

  7. If money were no object I would get my helicopter pilot’s license, buy a helicopter and become bush pilot – use the chopper to help those in need – transporting medicines, doctors, paitients, sick animals. On my off time I would go to warm places and dive. That’s what I would do.

    1. That sounds like a good life… It sounds like you want adventure. Do you incorporate any parts of this into your current life?

      1. I was for awhile…I left my marriage, my house, even my country and went off to Central America to begin my life as dive instructor. I had plans on coming back at some point and obtaining my pilot’s license. It didn’t manifest. I lived the life for awhile, but I became lost and unfocused. I came back to the US and found that I still had a lot of work to do on myself before I was ready to throw the bowlines to the wind. Money is a huge obstacle to getting a pilot’s license – I don’t even know where to begin. I’m an artist and not a very good self promoter, otherwise that might become a good revenue stream… argh….so much to talk about here…but I hop you get the gist…

      2. I understand about money… It’s difficult to break through the conventional ideas about income. I’m trying to though.

        Working on yourself is an important part of the contentment puzzle. I think back to when I was in my 20s and was waiting for everything to fall in my lap… Nothing really did because I was so far from being ready to accept… anything, I guess. Now, I work on bettering myself and allow the pieces to fall into place… I don’t try to force fit them anymore.

  8. If i did not have to work i would have to risk stagnation. Both human and primate exist via routine. However its not all bad. Stress could be less and Nature is readily available no matter where we live. So if we are prepared to face the choices. Accept chaos then we can apply new order.

    For me it would be a case of back to roots. Indigenous life amongst people of wisdom. Perhaps we have strayed too far and lost too much of ourselves. Which is why so many seek to be free of the rat race. Where is the harm in watching sunsets. Beachcombing or exploring Tantra ? But the problem resides in the fact that, too much time to ourselves can place us into the rut of complacency. Within weeks lethargy and loss of will could dominate us on many levels. Like all things in life there exists duality.

    1. Hey Glenn- Good reply. I do believe we’ve strayed too far from our roots and are trapped in a false reality. Many crave a simpler and more grounded existence… I do, at least,

      I’ve been home for six months now and have found my motivations that keep me productive all day. It’s as I suspected… What I did for a living does not define me… Thankfully.

  9. What an original way of presenting one of the most central issues to people everywhere!

    There are lots of interesting ideas and questions posed here and your unique viewpoint seems to resonate well with your readers. It really doesn’t get much better than that in blogging!

    Thanks so much for your visit to my blog, and I’ll be visiting here again as time permits.

    Regards….John H.

    1. Thanks John! I appreciate the compliments. I’m having fun writing and illustrating my little blog… I’m happy to see that some readers are finding value in it…

      I’ll be reading along with your blog as well… Interesting stuff – John K

  10. ih well, lewks like the wolf is still playing the same game of selfish neglect in my werld and travels to urs to lol…….likes stuff then acts 1000% different that the post they like is true hipocracy, i guess we all jest got to see it for what it is an not, those that can’t well, bless thier soul and god forgive them for thier internet anbd lifes games,,,take care john 🙂 Q

  11. Great post Doug 🙂

  12. I think we are several with this kind of thinking now. I wrote about it too.

    I don’t work any longer, but lived in a country where it was possible to get a pension, even I was not so old. Negative stress was a big factor for this.

    I had dreams about moving to another country when I got my pension a day, I didn’t calculate that it would be so early, but okay, that’s life. I moved from Denmark to Spain.

    I have created jewelry and accessories for some years as I wished to try to sell. I do that now, have tried several places both online and markets earlier.

    I still have dreams and I hope that some of them will come through too.
    Irene

    1. Hi Irene- You’re fortunate to have lived in a country where you got a pension early. We’re not so luck y here in the USA.

      I tried working for a major city government… It lasted six years. I cashed in what I had paid towards the pension and moved on. I would have gotten the tiny pension I was entitled to until I was 68… Not worth waiting for.

      1. Hi Doug, the taxes in Denmark are very high, the pressure is one of the most high in the world, why it is also possible to get a pension, when you are no longer able to work. I was lucky then because it is more difficult to get a pension today because of the economic crise.

        I have also paid to my pension, when I get older and this is not so high in money for that time, so I would also like to find a solution before that time.

        I hope you will find the best way for you 🙂

  13. I’d like what I love to be my ‘work’. I’d write more, photograph more, garden more, support others more.

    If money were no object, I’d be in the woods, doing the above all day, every day.

    I’d like my life to look pretty much like it does now, sans working for another, and well… maybe less cluttered 🙂

    To that end, I’ve downsized my living space and my ‘things’, made a plan for deb elimination, and I’m working those goals while honing my skills of what I love doing. And honestly, I am more content now than I ever have been. I have a plan, I’m doing what I love, and I know where I’m going. It changes the journey quite a bit.

    Thanks, thought provoking as usual 🙂

    1. It sounds like you’ve figured out what you want from life… Good for you. Taking proactive steps to reach your goals is much more effective than reacting to what life sends your way…

      Good luck with your journey…

  14. Doug thanks to you I just realised that I am doing what I should be doing and what I want to do. So feeling happy 🙂

    1. Great! You’re one of the fortunate few…

  15. Reblogged this on Left Handed in a Right Hand World and commented:
    Oh, kindred spirits, how I love finding you… enjoy!

  16. I’m not sure in just a comment that I can convey how useful and meaningful this post is to me– from the Tolstoy quotation that had me saying, “Yes! THIS!” to your description of boredom chased by dwindling self esteem… thank you for articulating that it is an absolute fact that we won’t change our lives without knowing “to what?” I’ve been stuck here long enough!

    1. Hi Julia- I’m glad you found the post useful. We all talk about wanting change in our life, but it can’t happen until we figure out what we actually want. It turns out to be pretty difficult to do…

  17. If I didn’t had to work I will be creating my art and travel the world if money wasn’t an issue

  18. […] have asked myself these questions from Doug Does Life If you don’t know what you want to do then make a list of things you like then go to the one that […]

  19. I know exactly what I would do if money wasn’t an issue… write my books (which I am doing already, but only an hour per day), polish my Arab and Japanese, get a psychology degree, maybe study forensics, volunteer, … – too bad the office always gets in the way. ^^

  20. I retired at age 54 after two careers I loved , as a ballroom dance teacher then a commercial real estate executive. My husband and I sold our home in New York City and drove cross country to Las Cruces.NM. We bought a home on a golf course that overlooked the city, the farmlands and the majestic Organ Mountains in the southern Rockies. NMSU provided sports, theater and classical concerts while we played tennis, hiked and explored the surrounding states. Our days were filled with new activities and friends to hare our lives. Our jobs do not define us. Our lives and how we choose to live, define us. We became competitive tennis players in The USTA.
    I published a book about my life last year at age 80, even though I think of myself as a 39 year old.
    Whether you are working or retired. Each day is a new beginning to live as fully as you choose. Life is a banquet, so enjoy. You cannot relive the past nor predict the future. Today is yours to rejoice or to squander.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story- It’s important to hear how others structure their lives and are successful at living as they wish.

      I’m working towards having all aspects of my life be in alignment with my desires… So far, so good!

  21. doglover · · Reply

    As I get older, I want to start giving back. Just not sure where I should start. So many people and places ie; the poor, the elderly, the homeless, wounded warriors, animal shelters etc…..

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