Saturday, March 11, 2017

Able to Walk Away

I started my (post-university) working career in Risk Product Development. The obvious risk people buy insurance for is dying. If you have dependants, the financial strain of death can send those people's lives into a spiral. The less obvious (but what I came to believe more dangerous) risk, is disability. If you are still alive, but unable to contribute in a financial way... society isn't set up to look after you. And you are still around.

I worked on Disability Products. There are products to cover you if you can't do your Daily Tasks (opening a jar, driving a car, showering, etc.). There are products to cover you if you can't do your own occupation (a lawyer who loses ability to concentrate), and products to cover you if you can't do any occupation (even if you could do your daily tasks).

This made me do the calculations for myself about how much I would need if I could never work again. I was warned of hair dressers whose hair was a mess, home builders whose homes were falling apart, and accountants who hadn't done their own taxes. I didn't want to be an actuary who couldn't work, but had not got cover.

I knew that number. It became a target. Initially I paid a premium to the insurance company I had worked for, but the goal was to have that much myself. Why should I 'wait' to get disabled to be able to focus my efforts on something else? I had accepted the way the world worked, now I wanted to make it work for me so I could do other things.

Normally that target grows. People adjust to their income, and forget how they ever got by before that. I was super keen to be financially independent, so instead, I saved and invested aggressively. 

I didn't let my target grow. Eventually the day came where I met it. I had enough to stop if I wanted to. So I did. Some people are lucky to be in jobs that they love. My guess is a lot of us put up with being treated badly, because we have no other choice. We can't just walk away. I don't think the current work place environment is a level playing field. I don't like the idea of bosses, and I don't like the idea that 'the customer is king'.

I don't see the world beyond work as one where we disengage. Quite the opposite. When what we do becomes a conscious choice, that is when work becomes the art of creating meaning.

Old Colleagues, Old Friends
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