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YMOYL - The Purpose of Paid Employment

October 1st, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I've been re-reading Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. A lot of people don't like this book, especially the investment advice. But I've found that there are useful nuggets even if you don't do the whole program.

One of the things that stood out to me on this re-read is the purpose of paid employment. Per the book many people look at their jobs as a source of security, enjoyment, power, personal growth and friendships. All these things that people want to get from their jobs they can get through other ways, such as volunteer work and hobbies. The only thing that a person cannot through other means is - pay. Therefore, they argue, the purpose of paid employment is to get paid. (The larger work of your life may be something else completely different than your paid employment though.)

I have been mulling over this thought. I stepped out of the workforce over ten years ago to be a stay at home mom. I have no regrets over this decision and would do it again in a heartbeat. I am now looking at going back into the workforce. I have been hemming and hawing over it during the course of this year. I haven't been really sure what path to pursue.

One of my stay-at-home friends got back into the world of work via retail. Another person I know was retrained in an area that is desperate for workers. (The retraining was paid for by the hiring company when my friend was hired.) One mom friend stayed at her job, working part time when her children were little and then going back to full time when the youngest was in elementary school. Another mom friend got back into her former line of work after many years out. A couple of my mom friends fell into starting their own businesses.

I'm surprising myself by thinking that I'm going to attempt to get back into my former line of work. I worked in a somewhat specialized technical field that was in demand at the time I left it. But I heard then that that particular technology would disappear, and I just have given it no thought since I left my last job. I figured that I would do something completely different when I re-entered the workforce.

After discussing the possibility of going into my former field with a friend, I decided to go visit a class at the local community college that relates to my field of work. Classes just started last week so I could take the class if I wanted to. When I got there I almost chickened out, but I faced my fears and bravely walked through the door. I was able to follow what the instructor was discussing (even after missing one class, and not having thought about the topic for over ten years) and had a good discussion with him during a class break. After hearing about my background, he encouraged me to take the class and believes that I can get back into my original technical field.

An internet search reveals that this could easily be true - the technology didn't go away as predicted. Many of the people who work with it are nearing retirement - and younger people aren't that interested in pursuing it because - it's old technology. The internet predicts a worker shortage in this area.

I am now planning to take the class during winter quarter. In the interim I'm going to study my previous work field using books from the local college library and also the internet. Oddly, I found a paper on the internet describing the conversion of the old technology into the specific new technology that I will study in winter.