What does ‘work’ mean to you? Do you define yourself by your job? Is your livelihood the same as your purpose in life? Or is your job merely a means to make ends meet, to fund your ‘true’ passions? (Or, like me, are you still trying to work all of that out…)
For me, the definition of ‘work’ has changed drastically over the past few years. When I was still at school I believed that the job I ended up doing would be my purpose and passion in life. I decided at a young age that I was going to be a vet; I loved animals and being outdoors, and I was good at science, so the choice seemed to make a lot of sense.
I worked hard to get into vet school (to the exclusion of many of my other passions) and I didn’t really stop to consider an alternative occupation. My career choice defined me; when asked ‘what do you do?’ I proudly replied that I was a veterinary student, and I enjoyed the interest and respect that I gained in response.
So when I finally decided, in my third year of vet school, that veterinary really wasn’t for me, I suddenly found myself swimming in a sea of uncertainty. Ok, so I now knew that I definitely didn’t want to be a vet. But what should I do instead? What could I do instead?
I thought about my interests before I pursued veterinary. Sustainability, art, music, French … But I hadn’t kept up with those subjects – I was out of practice and my skills were undeveloped. There was no way I’d be able to land a job in those areas – I’d have to work on my skillset.
By the time I graduated university, I was no closer to knowing what career to pursue, but I still believed that whatever I chose as my work had to be my passion. On the other hand, the summer was over, my savings were dwindling, and I needed to pay the bills. I had a science degree and a decent amount of hospitality experience on my CV. So what followed were a myriad of choices that attempted to balance my unshakeable belief that work had to be my passion on the one hand, with the need to earn a living on the other. I tore myself in very different directions trying to pursue those goals.
CV after CV. Cover letter after cover letter. Rejection after rejection. Over the next two years I worked at a coffee kiosk, then as an admin temp in a corporate finance company, started a PhD, left a PhD, and was unemployed and no closer to my goals of a life-fulfilling career and enough cash to pay the bills.
Then, by chance, I discovered an app called limber.
limber was a new platform for finding work in hospitality, without the need to commit to one venue or a minimum number of hours. To work on limber, all I had to do was download the app and make a profile. Once my account had been approved, I was able to browse shifts and businesses in my local area and, if I found one I liked the sound of, I could just tap to apply. If I didn’t fancy working one day, I just wouldn’t apply to anything. It’s was so simple and so flexible.
Suddenly, by joining limber, a whole new perspective on work opened up for me.
I could now see a future in which I could separate the need to earn money from the desire to prioritise my interests and passions. By working through limber, I could choose when and where to earn, and easily fit work around my other priorities. I also felt more excited about the work; it would be a way to be around people and have a sense of purpose, to help out a local business who were short-staffed, but also to work on my own terms and say ‘no’ to work when I wanted to prioritise other aspects of life.
As it happens, I never actually worked a limber shift. I was so excited about the concept of limber, that before I managed to apply for a shift, an email came around from limber HQ – they were looking for a summer intern.
A year on from applying to that internship, I’m now in charge of running operations at limber. I also dabble in financial forecasting, data analysis, customer-service and content creation. But the most crucial role we all play at limber HQ, is challenging the way we work. We’re strong believers that our priority in life should be living, not working. And as well as building and operating limber, the platform that enables others to work flexibly and autonomously, to earn around their lifestyle, we practice what we preach. Chris, limber’s CEO, has written a piece on how we work flexibly at limber HQ, which you can read here.
Some people are fortunate enough to have a passion in life that also earns them a living. Others are not so fortunate. But the need to make ends meet should never get in the way of actually pursuing your life’s goals. Otherwise what’s the point? We only have one life (as far as I’m aware, anyway) so don’t waste it tied into a miserable, rigid job that saps your energy away from your interests. Don’t give your up your life to work on someone else’s terms.
Pursue your passions, break the boredom, resist rigidity, aspire to autonomy and favour freedom. Ultimately, live limber.
P.s. Since changing my perspective on work, I’ve discovered I have far more energy to pursue new interests. This year, already, I’ve completed a creative fashion design course, sewn my first dress from scratch, upholstered a stool, explored surface pattern design, taken on an allotment, read 5 new books, and developed an exercise habit I love. What would you do with more time or energy?