While I’ve made no secret about the fact that I spent several years of my life as a genuine self-help junkie, I haven’t talked much about how that led me to quit working for others.

Even though I’m still not certain about all the rewards of that exploratory journey, the biggest gift was discovering things about myself that had been buried, hidden, or ignored. I began trusting my own instincts and came to realize I needed to act on those things I’d uncovered.

Most obvious of all was that I had no business having a job. Not only would I be cheating myself if I continued to be employed, I’d be cheating my employer since I couldn’t ever bring all of myself to the job.

Although my bosses were all happy with my work, they were also clueless about how much more I could have contributed.

At some point, I realized I could continue unhappily working at jobs that bored me or I could turn what might appear to be shortcomings into advantages.

Here are a few of the reasons I’m totally, completely, permanently unemployable.

There are many things I love to do—but almost nothing I want to do day in and day out. This was most apparent with teaching, a top love of my life. When I was expected to teach for seven hours a day, five days a week, nine months of the year, what I loved suddenly wasn’t so lovable anymore.

As a teenager, I’d changed my mind weekly about what I wanted my career to be. Of course, this drove my guidance counselors crazy. “Pick one and stick with it!” was the message.

That struck me as impossible, but I relented and gave it a try. It wasn’t until I began to think about self-employment that I realized I could create a business that incorporated multiple passions.

Commuting makes me crazy. Every job I had involved at least one hour a day of driving. I’ve never calculated how many hours of my life would have been spent that way had I held a job for forty years, but it never seemed a wise use of time to me.

Today, my idea of commuting involves airplanes, preferably with my passport tucked in my purse, headed to a new place I want to explore.

Financial goals mean nothing when someone else determines my income. As I began learning about goal-setting, financial goals were always discussed, but almost meaningless if I was trying to fit my goal into a salary slot.

As I became more entrepreneurial, my ideas about goal-setting changed also. Instead of trying to squeeze my goals into my budget, I discovered it was far more effective to set honest goals first and figure out ways to finance them second–not the other way around.

Crowds make me crazy. I don’t like shopping on Saturday, standing in long lines at the bank or movies. I do like traveling off-season and look for all the ways to avoid busy times when running errands.

It’s far less stressful and, I assume, that adds to my productivity.

Curiosity demands a change of scenery. In Making a Living Without a Job, I say, “I became an entrepreneur because I was curious about what I could become. It was a curiosity not shared by any employer I had.”

But my curiosity goes much farther than uncovering my own potential. I’m curious about the lives of other people, fascinated by the joyfully jobless, want to see places different from the one I call home. Mobility matters to the gypsy in me.

At the beginning of my entrepreneurial life, I had no idea that I had embarked on the best personal growth program ever invented.  The discoveries never end, however, if you’re doing it right.

So while all those things guarantee I’m never going to be named anyone’s Employee of the Month, they’re not the best reasons for remaining unemployable. My number one reason is a bit grander and voiced by writer Stephen M. Pollan.

“Create your own work path,” advises Pollan. ”Those with conventional career patterns age ten spiritual years for every five physical years they spend in the rat race. Those with a unique work path are constantly being reborn.”

8 Responses to “Hooray! I’m Unemployable”

  1. Wendy

    I have enjoyed this post and the previous few. My husband and I are self employed. Yes he has to go out to do his work but what I like is the self adjusting you can do. They little chanes you can do to make time for the ones you want to do. I also have chosen to go without quite a few of the everyday things and have adjusted our lifestyle and working hours to match. We are still working on this and learning as we go along. Thanks, Wendy

  2. Carl Chapman

    Great post…. it sums up what I have been struggling to describe for years.

    Until now I have just put it down to boredom, but when you lay out the points like this, there is a lot more to it.

    The title also resonates with me on another aspect … A couple of times over the last ten years I have considered going back to a “normal job”, but I when I put my CV in front of people they continually tell me I am “over-qualified” for any position.

  3. Jack Andrew

    Yea Barbara! Kudos to you. A lot of people would like to be in your enviable position right now. If their is an appointment or seminar in New York City you can take it. Also your employer cannot say. “We are very busy right now, I can’t let you go till next month.” Employers are like the captains of ships. They need people who can follow a steady schedule. Be their as scheduled.

  4. Mary

    Yippie! I’m not the only one who drove her guidance counselors (and her parents) mad! Yay!
    I vividly remember one session after I had filled in a questionnaire about my talents, qualifications, expectations towards a job etc. and that lady could come up with nothing better than “Er…how about an internship at your local blacksmith’s?”
    Somewhere along that point I realised I wasn’t fit to be anybody’s employee, even though I tried my hand at it – but to no avail; I’m just unemployable! 🙂
    Another great post – keep the good work up!

  5. Steve Lamont

    Right on, Barbara. I was at Barbara Sher’s weekend in Manhattan, and I’m now focusing on paying all my bills as a contractor with part-time software testing (good enough job). This will support my other projects: (1) reading about economics, (2) music appreciation and (3) recovery work. Not sure if any of these other projects will ever have income, but the cool thing is that initially they won’t need to. Which for me seems to be the right approach.

  6. Laurie Hoesly

    Hi Barbara, I was blessed to actually attend one of your seminars, in person, several years ago. At that time I was searching for something. I was unsure what that something was until I heard your story. Then I knew, I was supposed to be joyfully jobless also. I took some steps forward on that path, but allowed fear of the unknown to overtake me. The truth is, I wasn’t really ready to self-boss, and that’s why things didn’t work for me.
    Now though, being older and much wiser, I have picked up the baton again and am starting to walk with it. Each day I am physically doing something to create a solid joyfully jobless lifestyle for myself (my time is limited because I work full-time at a job and commute 400 miles a week). I have continued to learn about business, being an entrepreneur, and along with that, have contact with others who are successful self-bossers. I see so many opportunties now, there should be no problem creating multiple profit centers!!
    Thank you for planting the seed ‘way back when’….I think it’s finally going to bloom!!

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