In November last year I decided to quit my job and say goodbye to the office where I’ve been working for eight years, and to completely dedicate my time to my own company and to Tiny House Nederland. Part of it was necessity; I had to make a choice. I couldn’t do both anymore; it was too much. But it was also a choice from the heart: everyday a little part of me died at that office. It wasn’t fulfilling and I really needed to do something that actually had some meaning. My work for the Tiny House movement on the other hand made me really happy and I could actually make a contribution.
So was it an easy choice? Yes and no. It’s a risk, becoming self-employed. You give up on a lot of certainties. But when you do what your heart tells you to, it’s so worth it! In a way, you just can’t lose. You need to give it all you’ve got, learn to deal with insecurities and learn new skills. You have to accept that your skills are still lacking in many aspects of your work, and you have to give up your normal routines. You need to ask for, and accept, help. To be prepared to take a good look at yourself and set your goals. But most of all: you need to actually do it.
A few weeks before I quit my old job, there was a big meeting that I had to attend. Of course, my motivation had dropped to level zero at that point. Sitting through several presentations of division managers, I realized how meaningless this all was to me. I had one of those fancy writing pads before me, and I started to write:
‘I’m in a division meeting in a luxury resort in Zuidoost Beemster, there’s mineral water and fancy peppermint/sugar cubes on the table, and I’m listening to a colleague who’s explaining yet another reorganization using an organogram. I can’t count the number of organograms I’ve seen in the eight years I work here. Another turn shifting the pawns on management level in order to work more efficiently. And all I can think is: this is useless nonsense. For once, just listen to Jos de Blok van Buurtzorg and stop managing. Let people do what they’re good at. All those management functions…cutting that, now that would be efficient! Maybe, when people on the work floor are consulted when a system needs to be changed, that system would actually work better. After eight years, I’ve had enough. I can’t do it anymore. I’m not interested anymore and I look outside, longing to be where the sun is. My heart’s not in it anymore, there are so many things I could do that have so much more meaning than this. Doing things that serve the community, things I would love to do instead of having to sit here and listen to something that doesn’t mean anything to me.
Sometimes I think there are people at the top that come up with reorganizations out of boredom. Just so that they and their buddies have something to keep them occupied. Acting important and making a buck load of money. Uselessly and unnecessarily moving around people and paper. Isn’t it weird that pencil pushers earn the most money and that the people who do the actual important stuff, like nurses and garbage men, make the least?’
Do you recognize yourself in this? According to Rutger Bregman from De Correspondent, about 40% of Dutch people find their job not meaningful. Isn’t time we start taking this seriously? How meaningful is your job for you? Maybe you’re really happy doing what you do. I hope so. But if not, what’s stopping you from making a switch? Let me guess: money. For me, this has been the motivation to keep going for years, even though I would look around for something more exciting. When I found a vacancy that appealed to me, it was always in the ‘green’ or social sector, which meant less salary. And well, my rent needed to be paid and a decent salary wasn’t so bad either. So I stayed put and went back to the same Excel sheets and Standard Operating Procedures. And died a little more inside.
My decision to build and live in a Tiny House was partly because of this. I wanted to create a life where I had the freedom to do what makes me happy, what gives my life meaning. Choosing a job that suits me, even though it pays less money. Cutting down on my cost of living and expenses were my ticket to the life I was dreaming of. A life that balances work and free time, with more than enough freedom of choice. I didn’t really foresee that I’m now working harder than ever though, haha! But that is a choice as well and I love my work, and that’s what makes the difference. Are you stuck in a job that makes you miserable? Can you barely hang in there until vacation time? Do you live for the weekend? This can change. You can change. It’s not easy, you need to change your life. But what’s the alternative? Keep on going and basically throw all those hours of your life away? Life goes by fast; it’s such a waste if you don’t use it doing things that stimulate you. Things that provide personal growth and that make your heart beat faster. What have you got to lose? Can you live in a smaller house, with less stuff, less eating out, if it gives you more joy in what you do for a living?
This is your life. You can make of it what you want. Nobody else can decide how you live it. And let nobody tell you something can’t be done! Search your heart, make a plan, take the first step and keep on going. It will bring you so much more than the alternative, staying where you are and being miserable. I promise!