Posted by Robert on September 13, 2011
This is a guest post by Robert, who lives in Calgary and
works as a financial adviserretired at 34. He is married, has three kids. Robert and his wife then plan to return to school and become teachers, eventually living and working overseas.
I was at the playground yesterday with my kids. The weather was great and it was a weekend, so there were lots of families there. I meet another father and we got to talking. He told me that he has been working, but he doesn’t really enjoy his job as he used to. He would like to move back into writing and public speaking, or consulting on community building initiatives in rural towns. I told him that I had been working as a stockbroker, but I’m not currently working.
You know that moment in a conversation where you decide you’d like to stay in touch with someone? He handed me a business card, and I wanted to hand him one. But since I’m no longer working, I don’t have a card to give out. I apologised, and explained that if I did have a card, it would be blank. It would say something like:
Robert H. Doesn't Really Do Anything Phone: 403-254-xxxx Email: email@example.com
That’s a bit fanciful, but he generously smiled at my joke. He told me that he’s looking forward to the day when he has a blank business card. He has met people who have given him this kind of card, with just a name and contact information, and he’s been envious. What does the blank business card symbolise?
I’m not owned by someone else. I admit that I may be the only one who felt this way. Presenting a business card with my name and the name of my employer together always made me feel like they not only employed me, they owned me. The business card was only the outward manifestation of that relationship. They set the rules I had to follow, they told me what I could and could not say, they even audited my emails to make sure I was onside. Now, no one tells me what I’m allowed to say. I stand for what I believe in.
I control my own time. I no longer have somewhere I need to be each weekday at specific hours. I used to work 7:00am to 4:00pm. Now, I often stay in bed until after 7:00 in the morning. That’s not to say that I don’t have places to be or appointments to keep. But each day provides variety, and if I want, I can be flexible with my schedule. As an example, if my son’s class will be going on a field trip, I can reschedule my other activities and choose to join him. There is a risk of being less productive, since my deadlines are now self-imposed, but I make my own choices and take responsibility for the outcome.
I can choose what I work on. Some people define themselves by their job. When that’s the thing they’re most excited about, it makes sense. “Hi, I’m a …” financial advisor, teacher, engineer, doctor, etc. I’ve made an effort not to define myself by my job. That was helpful when I stopped working. I was a financial advisor, but I was also a father, a volunteer, an advocate for public education and an reader and writer (blogger). Now that I can choose where I spend my time, I don’t just work on one thing. A business card doesn’t have room to include everything I do.
A blank business card says: I work on a variety of things that I care about, on my own time and on my own terms. I’m printing off a batch, and I look forward to handing them out. What do you look forward to about no longer working in a business?