I drag my 16-year old self out of bed.
I get dressed, and make myself two slices of toast with a glass of orange juice. I’ve never been big on breakfast.
I think about the day ahead of me while staring out the kitchen window of my parents’ house.
A day full of mowing lawns, picking up trash, and making gardens look green and clean.
It’s my first job, and no amount of money is worth what I’m going through. It’s not the job, but the feeling that I’m heading down the wrong path.
This is not for me.
With each day, the feeling of dread grows inside of me.
“It’s only two weeks. The job’s only two weeks, then you’re free,” I told myself.
But deep down I knew that I had to make a decision. This job was going to end. It was only two weeks during the summer, but what would happen after that?
Would I go on to study at the university and get another job?
A job that would look better on paper and have different assignments, but ultimately destroy me from the inside out, like a deadly virus.
This is not for me.
There was a little voice inside of me. It was desperately calling for my attention, like a child stuck in a deep, dark well.
The cries had fallen on deaf ears for so long, but something had changed. A switch had been flipped.
There has to be something better.
That was when it all started.
I didn’t know it at the time, but it was at that summer job that a flame inside of me was born and my life changed forever.
From Idea to Action
Time flew past, like it always does, and the next summer was upon me.
This time, I had scored another job: one that paid more. I was going to wash and clean boxes inside of an old warehouse, where boxes, tools, and metallic objects where stacked to the ceiling.
After each day, it was as if I aged 40 years. It didn’t just show on my hands, but in my spirit. I felt old after each day.
One day, while washing box after box, I was chatting with my friend, who told me about a guy he knew who had made $500 playing online poker.
“That’s it,” I thought to myself.
That was the opportunity I needed. That summer I began studying online poker. I bought books until thirty of them filled my brown, wooden shelf in my small room.
I read, studied, and was active in online forums.
It took me six months of hitting my head against a brick wall before I finally broke through.
At first, it was just a few cents. From there it grew to a few dollars; to a few hundred; to a few thousand, and at that moment I knew.
I knew that other possibilities existed out there.
People told me to get a good education and get a job, but it never felt right.
Now, I had the proof for what I had been feeling all this time.
Just like a child in a candy store, my eyes opened wide, and I stood in awe looking at life and all it had to offer.
The veil had been lifted.
Like any good story, I ran into my first big obstacle not a second later than I started feeling like I was on top of the world, and it felt like a spear had been thrust through my stomach.
It was the fear of what if.
As I began making a living playing online poker, I got scared. I started feeling like I should go to the university anyway.
“What if I fail? It would be smart to get a university degree just in case,” I thought.
Fear had gotten its long, dirty claws in my flesh. I was making life plans out of pure, unadulterated fear.
I didn’t yet know that fear would become my constant companion on my quest to living my purpose.
All I knew was that I was scared out of my mind, like a kid is scared of monsters under the bed on a dark, ominous night.
I kept moving forward despite my fear. I gave myself no other choice. I wasn’t going to get a job, so forward was the only direction for me.
I knew I was going to be miserable if I did anything else. I’d rather be afraid than succumb to a life full of regret.
There has been many of these challenges since that time, but those are stories for another time.
As I kept living an unconventional life, I noticed how oppressive society was.
Most people have no idea that the ideas and beliefs they have are merely figments of their imaginations–stuff they’ve learned.
My friends and family kept urging me to get a job.
“When will you get a job,” they asked me as I was making a living doing what I enjoyed and traveling the world.
Even with the evidence in front of them, they refused to see the obvious.
They could not.
For seeing what I was doing meant that they, too, could do what they wanted, but instead they decided to turn their heads and look the other way.
When you begin to travel your own path, you will come upon people that do this, and you will meet people that condemn you. Not because you are wrong, but because it scares them.
They will do anything from facing their own fears, because when you begin to live your purpose, they will be reminded of how they are not living theirs.
You Don’t Need A Job
Deep inside of you, you know that you don’t need a job.
You’re reading these very words for a reason. There’s something calling you, like it called me, to take that leap of faith into the unknown, and trust.
You keep getting pulled back by fear, and the what ifs. And that’s exactly what should happen, because the closer you get to your true purpose, the more afraid you will be.
You don’t want to screw it up.
But what you aren’t realizing is that the only way you can screw it up is by not starting at all.
You don’t need to heal, be fearless, or have the perfect business plan. You only need the courage to take the first step.
All the excuses you make are your fear trying to stop you, like a little, red devil sitting on your shoulder.
“I’m not interesting enough.”
“Why would anyone listen to me?“
They all come out of fear, yet they show that you care deeply. You want to make this work.
The jobless path isn’t for everyone, and it might not be for you at this time, but if there’s even a small part of you that is trying to get through, you know what to do.
Will it be scary? Hell yes.
Will you doubt yourself? I hope so, because otherwise you aren’t exploring new territory.
Will it be worth it? More than anything else in the world.
Image by Desmond
Esther van der Wal says
Well-written, Henri. I know the feeling of “This is not for me”, the fear and the what-ifs. I guess they’ll always be around, but like you, I’m trying not to let them stop me from proving others wrong. If this is your road, then you have to travel it.
What can I say but wow, because to be perfectly honest, I’ve always felt this way but thought I was crazy and I, too, don’t do well with people saying to just do what everyone else does.
This really made me think and it is so well written and it was as if you were talking directly to me.
In fact, to quote what you said, “I knew I was going to be miserable if I did anything else. I’d rather be afraid than succumb to a life full of regret.” This is exactly what I’ve always known but never had the courage to take that leap myself.
Doing what I am now and forgetting about “security” and the what ifs, I have to make it work no matter what and I feel that and am understanding that more and more.
Thanks so much!
Ali Dark says
I’ve never liked jobs. Like you, they just made me feel worse about life. I never had the motivation to complete study either.
For the last year I’ve tried my hand at websites for small business but it turns out that wasn’t really my thing.
Right now I’m in this horrible-feeling position of having no place in the world, with the bank account quickly emptying as I crane for the remaining whiffs of “what could be.”
I’m thinking about my passions, skills and motivations and coming up with what’s on my homepage right now… but I’m knowing I will need to find some money and that it’s not going to be fun.
Thanks for your article, it was a nice place to have a whinge 😀
Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Two steps forward, one step back.
I’m full of clichés today, aren’t I? 😉
Thanks, Henri. Just what I needed to hear.
Just starting a 90 day program that has me growing my business, selling most of my sfuff and then spending six months in Argentina. Scared to death and doing it anyway.
Your post in my inbox was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you for being the voice of my guides!
I have a project in mind that is exciting me beyond anything, and that little devil, fear, is sitting on my shoulder saying things like “You shouldn’t tell others about this. Why would they care about you and your idea? They’re too busy with their own lives.”
This post of yours has given me the nudge to go ahead and email my mentors and tell them about this idea so they can help me implement it. Thanks!
Good stuff, Erica!
Remember, the more you live your purpose, the more scared you will be, so you are on the right path!
I took the leap after 7 years of being an employee ,this was back in 1980 , my wife was pregnant with our second child, but for some reason it was the right time to do it . I opened a regular brick and mortar business ,auto parts store, 3 years later i had more work than i could handle by then we were 4 people running the business.
One night i had a nightmare i dreamed that i was back as an employee, I told my wife about the nightmare and she just said “Well it’s only a dream” .5 years later i had to close the business because of the bad economy back then .
But i didn’t go back to being an employee, I went into a kind of partnership with a relative that had a business of his own, that’s where i learned what i do today , but after 3 years he had to close his business to , and then the nightmare came true i had to go back to being an employee for another 7 years and then i took another leap , this last leap was 5 years ago ,and i am still free of the chains.
Now i look back and i could have made the leap after only one year of my last employment but fear got me again , until i managed to dominate the fear and take the leap .
I am all for your “Freedom movement”
Great story, Juan. Sometimes it just takes time.
Brilliant Henri. My favourite takeaway from this is:
On the road to living your purpose, fear will be your constant companion.
Fear is part of the equation. Not something to run from. It shows us that we are stretching and growing and living into our purpose versus walking away from it.
I tell my coaching clients that the part of us that fears is actually there to help keep us safe. So we need to talk to that part of ourselves and thank it for the role it’s played but that we’re moving forward anyways. Invite it to come along for the ride!
Cuz it’s gonna be a good one!
Yup, yup. You’re right on, Paula.
Fear can be helpful from time to time. It’s always there for a reason, with a positive intention.
Tim Sherfy says
Thanks Henri, I can totally relate! I finally got over my initial fears by getting laid off; nothing like being forced to finally do what you’ve always known you should be doing anyway! I think some fear will always be there, but that’s okay as long as we use it to motivate us to keep working at what we love.
It’s funny. I’ve read many stories of people who say that getting laid off was the best thing that happened to them. When it happened it was horrible, but as time passed, new doors opened up.
Frances Colleen says
Very well said, Henri. I guess this fear plagues everyone of us who delves into IM knowing that there’s money to be got here.
All our family and friends think we must be crazy for trying to lose our “stable and professional” jobs and pursuing the dream of working from home to be your own boss.
But if you’re not happy with where you are in no matter how stable you are, then something is definitely wrong.
Thanks for giving me the courage to continue despite the feeling of fear, and knowing that it’s completely normal and I’m not alone.
Life is too short not to do what you want to do.
Thanks and more power!
What good is all the stability and comfort of a job that you do not like and that makes your life boring and restless?
Keep rocking, Frances!
I’m glad you were able to figure all of this out at such a young age. And thank you for sharing your story. Between you and Steve Pavlina, the world might soon be composed of entrepreneurs instead of employees!
Your post rekindled memories of my younger days when I, too, held many odd jobs all the time knowing they were not for me. In fact, the seed of the knowledge that would one day sprout into full awareness was planted early and watered by these harsh experiences. Today, at age 53, I tell my youngest son -as I told his three older siblings- to not waste a minute of his life pursuing that which he knows doesn’t ignite a flame of passion within. Thanks for this post; it touched me in a very personal way.
I’m a housewife and my husband and I have been struggling to have children for years. Someone recently told me to get a job to keep busy and keep my mind off things. As if it was that easy. As if all of my problems would go away if I had a job. Infertilty is a medical condition not a mental condition. I also have a blog. I don’t make any money off it and I don’t think I have any readers but I use it to vent and I find writing helps. I may not have a traditional 9-5 desk job but I do work.
Running away from your problems (and keeping busy) is never a good idea, although sometimes it’s the only way people know how to cope.
Keep doing what works for you, Amy, and trust that it’s right, because it so often is!
Esther van der Wal says
We’re in the same boat. Can’t believe how rude people are for telling you that! It’s like saying “why don’t you get a dog to look after?”
Don’t let them get you down, steer away from people who don’t understand your feelings and keep writing if it helps. Like Henri says, trust that what you’re doing is right for you.
Best of luck,
you didn’t leave your blog address, as you are good at writing, write an article about your personal experience and send it to other blogs or publishers, you are not alone and infertility takes a toll on us women and our relationship with our partners. If you would write about this problem and show other’s how you deal with it, you may be able to help some who are in the same position.
Excellent article, I recently left my job before it devoured me completely and it has been one of the most freeing experiences of my life. I did not realize just how much of my life energy and passion it was taking from me- not just my time and health, but my ability to enjoy my life, be creative, pursue hobbies and do things I would never have dreamed of whilst in the working mindset! The term wage slavery applies here and so many people are stuck in this slavery mindset- time to liberate the slaves! Keep up the good work.
I wish more graduates who are unemployed and keep on job hunting could hear this.Talking from the heart huh…tough but thats the truth somehow someone has to change the status quo…and in this article you just did that.
Archan Mehta says
Bravo, Henri, your talent is like a diamond shining in the sky.
This is exactly what I needed to read today. Your post resonated with me and other readers.
Thank you for sharing your journey. You are keeping faith in your intuition. Great to know.
I always feel inspired by your writing. Your life has been eventful; what an interesting life.
Luke Harvey says
Thank you for this article. This is exactly what I needed to read right now. I know I clicked on your link for a reason. I don’t want a job. I want a life. I hate people telling me to get a degree and blah blah. They just refuse to realize that there is a different way to live life. It’s almost like they are jealous because they want what you have but they are just too afraid to take the first step. Just because it’s not “normal” doesn’t mean it’s not right.
You are a cool dude.
I don’t have a job. It’s hard right now, but I like to write, so I’ll keep doing it. I’m not sure that anyone thinks I’m good at it, but I have to do what I love. Life is oppressive and and goes by before we know it working jobs that mean nothing to us! thanks for the post! =)
This is one of the most moving and inspiring articles I’ve ever read!… Seriously, especially towards the end man, your words are powerful and really hit home for me. I’ve been teetering with the idea of self-employment for a year or so, with my parents breathing down my neck telling me to get a job, etc. But like you, jobs have just never felt right to me, and I’m remembering now that I must not only listen to my intuition, but act upon it and take action. I’ve now set up my own website, started sending my music to labels, and taken up photography as a hobby! Thanks so much for the post, glad to hear you’re living your dreams! 🙂
Good stuff, Matt. Good stuff 😉
Emprender Hoy says
As always excellent article! Well I know what you mean by oppression. The jobless path isn’t for everyone, and you have to have a very big dream to keep going. Entrepreneurship is not easy, but definitely it´s worth it!
This is a good article. I was laid off too but was happy when it happened. The people were fine (even though the management was not) and I actually did a jig when I got the papers. I felt God wanted me to do something. There were signs – synchronicities. I feel really hopeful – it has taken over 2 years – but I still feel hopeful.
I don’t know why.
Henri, I know that exact same feeling! Going through life I would start a job and deep down I knew I didn’t belong there. I knew there was something more I should be doing. I would spend every spare second writing things, however random to keep my heart and soul together.
For a time I was tossed off the cliff: after losing the day job (it was a work at home job for hourly wages) I wrote articles and did other freelance stuff to take care of business.
Finally I tried to be like everyone else and I took a job again. I ended up miserable because my life was not my own. I had to see my little girl lonely day after day while I was too exhausted to do what I craved.
Well, once I realized that I was finally able to live off my book royalties I told my employer to take a flying leap and I spend my days being a mom and crafting more books. While my neighbors all think I’ve lost my mind (and middle daughter brings me food) I am happily typing away on this computer.
I don’t think I could go back if I tried.
Annie from Annienygma.com
I’m so glad I found this post. It’s comforting to know that there are other people out there who find the idea of a 9 to 5 job oppressive. I honestly think we’ve been brainwashed to believe that the 9 to 5 is the only way to live. So many people live for the weekend, and it isn’t even seen as weird. It just doesn’t seem right to me.
It doesn’t seem right to me either. I know some people are happy in a 9 to 5 job, and that’s cool, but I’m not 😉
Sergio Felix says
Well I have met people that are meant to boss around and people that can’t do anything by themselves and feel perfectly comfortable being bossed around.
So I guess it is a matter of personal choice, being a solo entrepreneur or freelancer or whatever you choose to work on your own, you need to have a lot of discipline, organization and many other things so I agree completely, going solo is not just for anyone.
By the way I have even offered business ideas to close friends who are in very bad financial situations and they STILL won’t take them.
The mere thought of not having a regular paycheck is stronger than actually make it BIG with something they own and earn 50x times more.
Great article. I agree with your viewpoint. Having a job is opressive and society is oppressive in general. I agree that everyone should look to find some talent they have and showcase it to the world and make their own money instead of being slaves.