What would you do if you didn’t have (to have) a job?

A lot of bloggers have recently been talking about what they would do if they were financially independent.  Related is the question of how to incorporate that into your life now given that you’re not yet financially independent.

As much as I would like to say that I’d stay at home and read novels and watch Netflix and make/eat yummy food… that would probably last a few months.

And then I would start getting into trouble.

Nurtureshock mentions that kids who get into trouble tend to be kids who are bored.  They make their own entertainment.

I would too.

I bet I would become famous, really more infamous.  That’s what happens when I have too much free time.

If I had waaay too much free time, that infamy would probably get bigger than a forum or a blog site or something plastered in the local papers.

No, it’s probably better that I have a job and keep that ambition and energy and talkativeness focused on something productive, something challenging, and something constraining.

Otherwise my family might get death threats.

And that would suck.

That’s the problem with infamy.  I’d like to keep a low profile, but when I’m bored I apparently can’t shut up and I can’t countenance injustice.  When I’m employed I don’t have enough time and energy to notice it all!

Better to be like my aunts with their high-powered careers.  My mother, otoh, I think may not be completely fulfilled with her job and occasionally shows up in the Wall Street Journal or NYTimes for her activism rather than her research.  I’d rather stick to my research showing up.

Some links:

JaneB with a thoughtful discussion.

Not of General Interest discusses her Undine Chair of Spectacular Knowledge.

Its Probably PhD Me likes to read.  So do we!

Cherish the scientist talks about boredom.  (Note:  it is related to this post.)

Academic Jungle and her long-term sabbatical followed by another chair of spectacular knowledge.

What would you really end up doing if you didn’t need to work anymore?  If you had to cut ties with your current job and had the wherewithal to not find another?  What would you do at first, and what would happen after that?


45 Responses to “What would you do if you didn’t have (to have) a job?”

  1. eemusings Says:

    Keep blogging. Kill my travel bucket list. Bake and eat a lot.

    Beyond that, long term, I couldn’t say – I love my work and I would definitely want to continue doing productive things (although whether that would include continuing with what I’m doing or trying other things, I’m not sure).

  2. First Gen American Says:

    I’d do what I do now but more of it. I’d do more volunteering, I’d write a book, I’d have an even bigger garden. I may buy another fixer with more land. Hey, that sounds like my life now but in smaller doses. I really truly think you should live your dream life now and do everything you ever dreamed of…even if it’s in bite size increments. Do what you can afford it and when you can squeeze in the time and money. Luckily, my dream is not cruising the riviera on a yacht. I may not be able to write a book about my mom, but I can blog about her. I may not be able to live on a farm, but I can get a few chickens…stuff like that.

  3. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Oh, I just think if I want my dream to not turn into a nightmare, then I’d better never allow myself idle hands. They say they create the devil’s playground for a reason.

    Sure I can dream of reading novels and puttering around the house all day, but the reality is that would last about as long as it takes to notice that the world is imperfect somehow and only I can fix it. (So, 2-4 months. Probably less if I started volunteering right away.)

  4. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    I wouldn’t do anything differently. And I know this is the case because already PhysioWife makes substantially more money than I do, and if I made zero money, it would not change our financial outlook in any tangible way.

  5. Thisbe Says:

    Was just discussing this with a colleague – nothing much different! Partly because there are so few people with the training and interests that I have, I feel a big obligation to Do My Job regardless of whether I have a financial need. Partly because like PhysioProffe, I am the lower-earning (well, currently negative-earning! – but eventually I will have a respectable income) half of a partnership, so clearly I am not motivated by immediate financial need.

  6. MutantSupermodel Says:

    Volunteer. Be more active in my kids’ school. More crafting. Workout or at least take dance class. And after some time relaxing, I’d probably look back into re-opening my little gift/stationery store.

  7. Cloud Says:

    Hmmm. I might travel for awhile, but I learned on our Circle Pacific trip that 4 months is about my limit and then I miss home. I think I would probably pick one if my more time-consuming other projects (e.g., a website idea I have) and work on it full time. Or I might try my hand at writing a book!

    But no, I do not think I would be content to just read, no matter how many interesting books I have piled up around here. I like to DO.

  8. Linda Says:

    I have plenty of volunteer opportunities right here in my neighborhood. Between escorting at the family planning clinic and walking dogs at the local shelter I could stay busy most of the week. It would be great to have more time to work in my garden, and I could donate the extra produce, too. I could also help my elderly neighbor more with her chores and take her on errands. I’d also love to have more time for exercising and learning new skills like carpentry (very practical).

  9. Leigh Says:

    I would move to my ideal city and train “full-time” for sports. I would also spend a lot of time walking/running since there are even more awesome paths there.

    And in my free time? I would work on coding projects for fun. I’m not super entrepreneurial, so I don’t see myself starting a company, but I like doing random small things when I have the time.

    Maybe I would also work at cooking more. I’m trying it now, gradually, and I think I’m slowly getting better. It just takes some time, planning, and patience.

    I don’t know if I will have kids, so honestly this could be my picture in 10-20 years. Or maybe I would be like my dad and keep working because it’s fun. I don’t know that I would really want to do extended travel like some people on the internet doing early retirement do, but I would love to have more time to play sports.

    • Rumpus Says:

      That sounds pretty good to me. I don’t think I would train full-time, but more sports and general activity would be good. More coding is always good, though I probably would do a startup. It’s surprisingly easy, though I probably wouldn’t be looking for ideas that really need VC funding. Cooking is something that will improve over decades if you keep working at it.

  10. chacha1 Says:

    If the financial independence scenario presupposes that one can, in addition to quitting the current employment, also move to a desired location and purchase a residence such that re-employment is not required … (as you see it’s not really a simple question!) … I would definitely not go back to work in a law office just out of boredom.

    I don’t want to be a full-time writer and a couple of hours a day to read is plenty. I would probably go back to teaching dance/yoga part time and do a lot of crafting till I got sick of my own company, and then probably jump into some of the classes I’ve been wanting to take for years (gymnastics, kung fu, fencing).

    I don’t actually think DH is ready to stop doing what he’s doing. Which would leave me stuck in L.A. with not a helluva lot to do, because even with a LOT of money I don’t want to buy a house here. I do think if we suddenly had a sufficiently Roc-sized nest egg that I could stop the office work, DH might change the focus of his practice. He’s worked with some high-profile people who travel a lot and if real mobility were an option – the kind that meant I could go along – he might very well become one of those jet-setting trainers.

    If DH *were* ready to phase out of his full-time practice, we would probably move more or less immediately and start setting up our semi-rural life. It would be great to be able to start doing this in middle age, while we are young and strong enough to do the heavy lifting, and leave the later years for milder activities.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yes, financial independence in small town looks very different than having enough money to have financial independence in the SF bay area! And I’d probably get in less trouble in SF because there’s more stuff to do! Also the culture more similar to my general proclivities…

  11. femmefrugality Says:

    I’d get as much education as I could. Then I’d continue working in the field I’m training for. Because I love to do it. It’s just a bonus that I will be getting paid to do it again. Other than that, I’d travel the entire freaking planet. Well, maybe I’d leave a corner or two out, but only one or two.

  12. oilandgarlic Says:

    If money wasn’t an issue, I would definitely quit my job. I would volunteer and become much more politically active, both of which I think would be good things. I would spend a lot more time with my kids and try to focus on causes that help all kids. Given limited time/energy/money, it’s understandable that parents only focus on their own brood. However, if those were not issues, I would try to help improve public schools, libraries. school lunches, etc.. for all kids, not just mine.

    And it almost goes without saying that I would also spend a lot of time reading/writing blogs, books and magazines, traveling, trying to learn new things, eating/cooking, exercising, and spending time with friends and family.

  13. mom2boy Says:

    I would have a farm (cows not dairy) somewhere really green near a lake. I’d be up early everyday, staying busy moving and doing and love looking out my windows. I would have morning chores then plan the day for the rest of the people who would help keep the farm going. (My step-father has 40 acres and breeds horses and even that little bit takes other hands.) Then we’d not live too far from a city or suburb and Tate would be at a great school and still have a sport or activity on Saturdays and it would be a lot like life now but, you know, with cows and lots of land.

  14. Grace Says:

    I like to think I’d FINALLY write the Great American Novel. But I’ve had free time before, and somehow that GAN never quite made it past my imagination. I do know I’d blog more, and comment more, and be way more snarky (and long-winded) than I currently am. I’d go to the movies more (so I could get more of that great–and expensive; you did say I’d be financially independent, right?–movie popcorn.) I don’t care what anyone says, movies are not meant to be seen on a 32 inch screen. But honestly? After a few months, I’d be back with my employer, as a volunteer. I really do love my work.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Maybe you could get a movie popcorn machine.. Though I suppose there’s the whole other people in the audience that can be a draw (or not, depending!)

      We actually have a projector instead of a tv. It’s pretty awesome.

  15. Dr. Koshary Says:

    I’ve had an idle fantasy for ages of setting up a craft brewery. And of course there are the half-worked-out ideas for screenplays and books that I kick around from time to time. I’d need to commit to something to do with my time, lest I freak out from the yawning abyss of empty time. Writing in the mornings, brewing in the afternoons, perhaps?

  16. ramblingrye Says:

    I quit my regular job to work full-time from home. So what have I been doing now that I have more time in my hands – I have been trying to catch up on sleep. When I was working full-time and working from home at the same time I was very much sleep-deprived. Also, I plan to catch up on the hobbies that I have neglected like reading and writing. I can also spend more time with my family now.

  17. JaneB Says:

    My answer got long, so it’s over at my blog here!

  18. notofgeneralinterest2 Says:

    Great question! I had to write a post about it, too.

  19. Candi @ min hus Says:

    Interesting question. I think I could entertain myself just fine if I suddenly didn’t have to work. I don’t hate my job, sometimes I even quite like it, but there are some aspects/times that are annoying enough that I could walk away and happily never look back.

    If I didn’t have to work I would spend my extra time writing, gardening, reading, and blogging. I’d love to travel and get my master’s. Learn to be a decent photographer. Heck, maybe I’d even do the many, many projects and fixups that I see needing to be done whenever I walk around my house. I’d also finally have time to find find a cause I can really make a difference in and volunteer.

    In fact my worst fear is something happening before or right after I hit retirement age that prevents me from getting time to do these things. Until then I continue to plot my early escape.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I used to think that I could just garden and read and so on… but realistically I think that would only last for so long. Especially if I did volunteering– this whole private school thing is starting to suck us in even though we’re working full-time, I’m fairly sure if we weren’t working we’d end up working full-time for no pay trying to fix a non-profit or the school system or government. And that just sounds more stressful than work!

  20. Debbie M Says:

    “That’s the problem with infamy. I’d like to keep a low profile, but when I’m bored I apparently can’t shut up and I can’t countenance injustice.”

    That’s why you have to wear a mask.

    I would mostly do more of what I do now in my free time – sleep enough, make the bed every day, exercise enough, keep up with the dishes and laundry, try cooking more things from scratch. I’m also looking forward to learning Spanish, writing a book, and doing some volunteer math tutoring of public school students (though also afraid of the way people grab at volunteers–but then forewarned is forearmed, eh?). I’d enjoy meeting my working friends with picnic lunches and auditing courses. I know that’s still not enough but I am so totally willing to risk that I am better at thinking up fun things to do than employers are.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      If you’re someplace with a well-designed after school tutoring program you’re probably fine– the urban school I tutored in when I was in graduate school had a couple training sessions and occasionally asked for money (which we could not give, being pretty poor ourselves), but otherwise left us alone. And I think there was a background check. Though having to do before-school tutoring was pretty brutal, especially on the days when I’d get up at some unGodly hour and nobody actually showed up to tutoring. Geh.

      If I wanted to do the same thing here I would have to *start* and *organize* the program.

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  23. Rosa Says:

    Honestly, I don’t think I have been bored since I left my childhood home, 28 years ago. I am another academic (tenured, and quite active) and I like my job. But my work to me is a job, not my life. I do it conscientiously and, according to others, well, and I work hard – but when I step away, even for a few days, I completely forget work. I can and do “unplug”. My job is what I do to make a living. What I do outside of it, and my attachments and roles outside of my job, are what I consider my “life”. I do not have kids, but I have a husband I love dearly, who works from home – I would love to spend more time with him. I have pets I adore, and I would love to spend more time working with animals. I love to read – even with a more than full time job, I go through 1-2 books a week. I read on the bus, in waiting rooms, before bed, while riding my exercise bike, even during commercials for shows I like to watch. I love good cinema, and would watch more. I like exercise, and would do more if I had more time. I like long walks, bike riding, yoga, and lifting weights. I would go to more museums and art exhibits and learn more about local history, which I find fascinating (I live in Brooklyn NY), if I had more time. I love cooking. I like to knit, crochet, and do other crafts. I would like to take calligraphy lessons, learn more languages (I speak 3), learn basic auto mechanics beyond the change-my-own-oil and fix-a-fan-belt bits I know … There is so much out there that is interesting, beyond what I do for a living, that I could never, and would never, be bored. Not in this lifetime! I get cranky, tired, irritable, sometimes depressed – but not bored.

  24. GMP Says:

    I used to think I would just keep doing what I am doing and maybe fund my own research. Now I think — eventually, but hells no, not right away.

    I would graduate all my students, take a leave of absence from the university, and then focus on learning things again as opposed to managing other people and helping them learn. I want to perfect my German (my 3rd language) and pick up another couple of languages; Chinese and Spanish perhaps. I used to draw really well but haven’t in ages. I used to read a lot but haven’t had the patience for anything longer than a blog post or a magazine article in a long time. I never have more than smidgens of time to devote to it so I am restless and bored at the same time. So, if I had a shitload of money, I would hire a housekeeper and a cleaner and a live-in nanny for a few years and would try to get reacquainted with me and get some goddamn rest and try to regain the calm necessary for sitting still, and reading, and deep thought.
    And I would exercise at least twice a day, and maybe take up a marshal art. And I would kiss and hug my beautiful kids all the time and savor the little time we have together.

    And then, after a few years, when I get good and rested and bored, I would go back to doing research. Maybe.

  25. Z Says:

    Sell everything, enroll in JD program at UT Austin or UCI, never look back, that is what I would do.

  26. Investing in Silver Says:

    I’ve done the no work thing and I’ve done the work full time thing. If I didn’t have to work, I would be completely bored and without direction, as I was before when I wasn’t working and didn’t really need to be. Even if I didn’t have to, I would probably still work, at least doing those work things that I enjoy, because I like the challenge.

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