• laurieeldridge

Be A Free Range Human

“Until recently most people made a deal,” says Marianne Cantwell in Be A Free Range Human, “I’ll work (in a job I don’t necessarily love), in return for a salary that I can rely on.” But things change: “The career-cage deal isn’t looking so hot now…jobs are a stupid idea in this economy.”

It’s a bold statement, and sets the tone for what is a no-nonsense, straight talking book. Marianne is on a mission – and it’s to make you a free range human too, living and working on your own terms. Marianne was one of the first people to promote a location independent lifestyle, and although the book is to some extent influenced by her experiences, in general it’s a rallying cry to starting your own thing, whatever that might be.

Anyway… why does Marianne think that jobs are stupid?

  • They’re risky: “with job security out the window, employment is the equivalent to being self-employed with only one client – your employer”

  • Someone else is in control of your life – “you have little control over the source of your income”

  • Jobs suck: “when you work in a job, come one else has control of what you do, when you work, what you earn, what you work on, and when you are allowed to take a day off. You abdicate choice over what you do every day for most of your life in exchange for a pay cheque.”

I think I only half agree with Marianne. True, lots of jobs can feel like you don’t have much agency, but conversely, the higher you rise up the ranks, the more responsibility and autonomy you get. And in terms of job security (and having previously been made redundant, I take her point) arguably the life of a freelancer has even less security, in terms of benefits, sick pay etc. On the flipside though, I can see how building something which you could ultimately step back from on a day to day basis could offer more security.

What do you think? And if we go with the premise that no job is secure: is that scary or liberating?

The first half of the book is dedicated to dreaming – coming up with options for your future free range career, without worrying yet about the practicalities. This is important, says Marianne, because all too often we enter the ‘idea death cycle’. We come up with an idea that we like, and then our inner critic swiftly dismisses it as impractical, before we’ve really had a chance to let it develop. And so we come up with another, only to go around the same spiral and end up stuck. “Most ideas don’t start off great, they grow that way when given room to breathe.

No-one goes from ‘I don’t know what I want to do’ to ‘here is the answer together with a bulletproof business plan’ all in fell swoop’

The mistake, she says, is trying to come up with ideas that are attractive and feasible all in one go: trying to pin down the practical details is the fastest way of killing off an idea.

There are a huge array of exercises in the first section of the book, aimed to helping to tease out what you love to do, and what an ideal day would look like. Some of the ones that I found thought-provoking were:

  • When you were around 8 years old, what were the three things that you could generally be found doing for play?

  • What was the last time that you felt fully engaged and in the moment?

  • Imagine a genie offered you 12 months off, with full pay and the security of knowing that your job will be waiting for you when you get back. You have a whole year just to do stuff that excites you. What would you do? (my addition to this would be: the genie offers you another year off before this, where you must do all the travelling that you want to do. Although the second year can involve travel, that’s not its focus).

  • Once you’ve done that – what is it that is really exciting to you about your year off? Can you pin down those elements?

Chapter three has another visioning exercise

Imagine you have been handed a dream free-range life. In this fantasy, there are no constrains in terms of money, responsibilities, skills or experience. You can do anything at all. The only rule is that everything you include has to fill you with a buzz and think “yes!”
· In this amazing free range life, what would your ideal day look like?
· Where would you be?
· What would you be doing?
· Who would you have around you?
· What would happen from morning to evening?

After this, read over your dream day and see if you can tease out:

· What five themes call to you most strongly? For example being outdoors, working with others.
· What is really exciting to you about your dream (e.g. if you were visioning yourself touring the world as a rock star, are you most excited by the thought of being in front of an audience, the music creation, or the lifestyle you imagine that goes with it?

It’s interesting what comes up when we let go of trying to come up with something that we know that we can do as well. Have a go at these exercises – hopefully you are as energised by what you come up with as we were –especially if you share your plans with others! It’s also really useful to see what the underlying themes are and to start to build clues that will lead you towards a future career that you can love.

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