Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who Needs a "Regular" Job?

I am sitting in the middle of Bryant Park in New York City writing this blog post – really channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw – when I realize that this place is packed, and it’s Thursday at 2:30pm. Too late for the lunch crowd, too cloudy for the tourists. Who are all these people? What are they doing? And shouldn’t they be at work?

This is the same feeling I have when I get out of my office on a weekday and cruise by Santa Monica beach, visit The Grove, or get stuck in traffic. How it is that so many people are out in the world, rather than sitting behind their computer at the office?

While it’s possible that these folks may be enjoying a personal day, traveling to a meeting, or running errands during a lunch break, I think it's more likely confirmation of my inkling that not many people in LA work “regular jobs.”

Of course a “regular job” is the kind that I’ve had my entire life – and generally includes driving to an office building at the same time every morning and working in front of a computer for 8-10 hours a day, five days a week.

Certainly there are many people who have jobs like this – probably the majority of the workforce - but when I think of the lives of my friends who don’t – the actors, musicians, moms, writers, trainers, etc – I often feel slightly envious of what seems to be a glamorous and carefree living. No schedules! Sleeping in! Something new every day! A regular job seems bland and rigid in comparison.

So as I sit here writing, wondering what life would be like if I could sit everyday in a sunny park in a far away city and make a living, I consulted a few friends who have “not regular” jobs to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be. From what I can gather, there are three major downsides:

  • A Severe or Nil Schedule: Many of these professions include a schedule that has a furious work schedule – up to 16 hours a day – and then…. nothing. Insane work hours highlighted by periods of none.
  • Not Steady Income: A fluctuating work schedule lends to an erratic revenue stream – making loads of money punctuated by making none. This means that you must be a good saver or financial strategist on order to maintain a steady lifestyle year-round.
  • Self Discipline Needed: When the confines of being responsible to others and collaborating as a team are removed, all that is left to rely on your success is…. You! Without a sincere and directed amount of willpower, success is harder to achieve. And as I think more about it, this trait is probably the main difference between my freelance friends who are successful and those who are just getting by.

I have self-discipline – but really only in bursts – and I’m not a great saver. I also need to share my successes and struggles, for which I rely on my co-workers and business partners, who reside in my office building.

So while it would be great to sleep in every day, head to the beach on a whim, or work furiously at 3 am, I feel that I might be better suited for a “regular” job. Now, more than ever, the conventional routine of people relying on me, an office desk to coordinate from and a bi-monthly paycheck seem rather reassuring. But hopefully one day I will be in a position where I can comfortably embrace some of the more enchanting aspects of a free-lancing lifestyle.

Thank god I am getting some experience “working” here in Bryant Park.


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