I recently found out a word for the philosophy I’ve always had on productivity. “Unjobbing“. It’s basically the same as the more established term “Unschooling“… but for people who are no longer of a school age.
“Unjobbing” as a word, in its parallel with “Unschooling”, makes a lot of sense to me. Let me explain.
First: Unschooling. Unschooling is when parents use no coercion in bringing up their children: so no punishments or rewards, no pressuring, ordering, or telling children to do one thing or another. The children go wild, destroy the house, become obese and end up living on the streets.
Not really. That’s just what most people think would happen. Actually, children are people, and people have an innate sense of decency and a will to learn and better themselves that don’t rely on rewards or punishments to function. The ironic thing is, in fact, that this innate intelligence is stronger the less they have been exposed to rewards and punishments.
When parents start off with the standard parenting model, and then change over to Unschooling, there is a period of adaptation which is called deschooling. During this time, the child acts out against all of their previous limitations. They are lazy, rebellious, and indulgent. They do everything they weren’t previously allowed to do.
After this period, if the parent has held back on any temptation to revert to standard parenting, the child becomes balanced. They begin to learn of their own accord, to better themselves, to harmoniously coexist, and to practise moderation. But, this time, it’s not because anyone has told them to. It’s because they genuinely want to do so.
As you can imagine, it’s MUCH more powerful to do things because you want to than to do things because you are forced to. You feel far more inspired, creative, relaxed, and just happy with yourself. And you’re connected to an intelligence you didn’t have before.
This intelligence works in subtle ways. For instance, instead of eating vegetables because you HAVE TO, you can start eating the foods which make you feel best, which will probably include vegetables, but this may be of different amounts or different sorts than expected. Only if you truly listen to yourself can you find this out. Children brought up under the standard parenting model don’t listen to themselves; they are conditioned to respond to what other people tell them to do.
Or, instead of learning a school curriculum because you HAVE TO, you can start doing what you feel like. This might mean spending a whole week playing video games, then a week studying mathematics in depth, then a week working on a small business selling your own handicrafts.
You learn, for sure — but you learn different things, and on a different schedule, to what normal schooling would have you learn. Of course, you learn much better because you are actually motivated and interested, and the skills you learn tend to have real applications in real life. You also naturally balance “work” with “play” (though these are largely just labels from the old paradigm, meaningless to the Unschooler) and tend to have, in this way, a naturally healthy, stress-free life.
Note, however, that the longer a child has been brought up under the standard parenting model, the longer they will need to go through deschooling. It’s like that rebelliousness and resentment builds and builds, and it needs more and more work to release in the end.
The Internalised Voice Of Authority
So, Unjobbing is basically the same thing as Unschooling. The only thing I have to add, though, is that at some point, children learn to have a parent “inside their heads” telling them to do this or that. They internalise coercion. This means that as adults, to do Unjobbing we must not only avoid external authority figures, but also our internalised voice of authority.
If you were brought up under the standard parenting model you will find that to some extent you depend on authority. Probably, if you don’t have a boss telling you what to do, you tend to spend all day just being lazy and can’t get much done. Otherwise, you might have learnt how to do self-directed work by using your internalised voice of authority to boss yourself about much like an external boss would do.
I can’t stand this kind of self-motivation. It’s violent, stressful, and disconnects you from that innate intelligence that knows what to do, how much to do of it, and when.
Instinctively, I’ve known for a long time that there is a better way. That’s why I’ve refused to get a boss, and that’s why I’ve also spent some years acting out my laziness and indulgence through irresponsible self employment.
Just like kids deschool, I’ve been dejobbing.
As I said, it takes longer to deschool or dejob the longer you’ve been under the standard parenting/employment model. That’s why it took me years and years. My process started six years ago in fact, and I’m only starting to become really productive now.
Mind you, dejobbing was only an instinct to start with, and it took a long time for that instinct to awaken and for me to understand exactly what it meant. I think dejobbing can be much faster if you are conscious of the process from the beginning.
How To Dejob
You dejob like this: First, identify the voice of internalised authority in your head; that parent, teacher or boss telling you what to do. Then simply ignore it. If that voice is telling you you HAVE to work, ignore it. If that voice is telling you you MUST NOT eat chocolate, ignore it. If it is telling you you MUST study, ignore it.
The goal is not total self destruction, though I think a certain amount of unhealthy actions are inevitable in this stage. Call them collateral damage. The goal, however, is to find, as soon as possible, the true voice inside yourself, the voice that does things because it wants to and not out of fear of punishment.
So be lazy. Be indulgent. Do all the things you were told you couldn’t do.
As you explore these extremes, you will eventually find moderation.
The biggest issue, I find, is the urge to do nothing.
It makes sense. Standard parenting/teaching/employment involves an external authority telling you to do stuff – and lots of it. Studying, to start with, and then work. Too much of it, and usually of the wrong sort (not your true calling). Laziness is the natural rebellion against that.
Unjobbing means ignoring that voice, and letting that voice slowly disappear. Eventually you will come to find your true voice. Your true voice will let you do things without having to fight yourself, and it will also know what you really want to do.
Note that in order to do this, you basically CANNOT have a boss. Bosses are that voice of external authority. So long as you have a boss, you will be strengthening the coercive voice. For unjobbing to work, you must be either be self employed, “employed” by a rare soul who truly understands and lives non-coercion, or else non-employed in some other way.
When your true voice awakens, you will begin to really want to fill your time with creative action. It will probably be action that earns you money, because your true voice takes money into account, of course. But most of all, this action will inspire you. You will be flowing with your impulses, and not fighting your impulses. You will have an endless source of motivation.
Do What You Need To Do
When you’re dejobbing, do what you need to do to survive while strengthening your coercive voice as little as possible. Do freelance work. Live off savings. Live cheap. Couchsurf. Live in a squat, dumpster dive. Live in an old person’s house for free in exchange for company (Craigslist can help you here). If you have to get a job, do the absolute minimum. Work for 3 months and then spend the rest of the year living radically cheap. Whatever your situation, you can do it if you’re really dedicated.
The more you ignore your coercive voice, the more it is weakened. And the more it is weakened, the more your true voice shines through. Eventually the coercive voice will be gone entirely and you will be free; no longer a slave in your own mind.
Think of this. Every action you take, being the action you want to take. Feeling sovereignty, dignity and freedom in every moment.
An Example From My Own Life
Let me provide an example from my own life.
About a year ago, I decided that my blog and my writing in general would be my full time occupation. I came to this conclusion after 5 years of gradual dejobbing, including 3 years living outside of my parents’ house and experiencing a great degree of freedom. My coercive voice weakened until I could hear my true voice clearly. This gave me clarity of purpose, and I started down a new path.
At the same time, I managed to find some financial support for this dream. I no longer had to do things I didn’t like to survive (I was self employed before), so I had a lot of free time.
Starting out, I was sluggish. I didn’t work all that much, or rather I would work in bursts and then end up spending a lot of time on Facebook and similar. Time seemed to bleed away.
But I was conscious about my dejobbing process by this time. I thought about motivation quite a lot (as you can see in my previous posts on the matter), but I was determined that I would not use coercion to motivate myself. I would find a new way, even if I had no real role model for what I was looking for.
Well, it has been gradual. But I had a small quantum leap of improvement recently which I feel like sharing.
See, my previous pattern involved starting up my computer in the morning, getting on Facebook, spending maybe two hours there (indulging myself like a good dejobber), lazily transitioning from that into some breakfast and personal hygiene (or sometimes not), and basically having a very slow, lethargic day from then on. I would aim to wait until I really felt like working before working, but that feeling would usually come very late in the day, when I’d somehow woken up enough to remember my motivation and purpose.
Well, I went on a trip to Spain a month ago. I did a little work while there but I basically allowed myself to take it as a vacation. This trip provided a welcome pattern interrupt.
When I got back, I was excited and determined to get some work done, to get back into my book project and to write some posts. Except, the first day or so was a return to my old slobbish pattern. After a whole day doing very little that was worthwhile, I was feeling severely let-down. I started to think, “Something needs to change.” Something from my pattern was just not working.
Synchronistically, I think just the day after, I heard by chance a very simple idea: no Facebook until dinner time. The guy explaining this pattern to me said it improved his productivity immensely.
I tried that, and I soon found myself having several days of greater productivity than I can remember having in a very, very long time.
And what’s more, I felt liberated. Facebook had been draining my energy. I was really in a distracted daze for most of the day. And by taking up so much of my peripheral attention, it stopped me ever really getting into a deep flow with my work. Overall, it felt like an addiction.
Note that I chose to engage in this pattern of my own free will; despite it seeming like a rule, it didn’t come from my coercive voice. It’s just like any other formula; you follow a recipe or an instruction booklet just to see what the results bring.
While it’s still early on, I really can’t see myself going back to using Facebook like I used to. I even use it less in the evening, often just checking a few messages and leaving it at that.
I credit my ability to make this change to unjobbing. Because I indulged in Facebook and didn’t allow a coercive voice to tell me to limit it, when my true voice finally came through I could listen to it. This change now feels quite stable and reliable, seeing as it’s based on really wanting to not use Facebook rather than a struggle with myself.
What’s Really Important
What’s really important, I think, is that you focus on ignoring your coercive voice and waiting patiently and expectantly for your true voice to come up. Don’t focus on the laziness, indulgence, and irresponsibility themselves. Instead, flow with them, ride the wave. Don’t be attached to them; touch them lightly.
And stop doing these self-destructive things as soon as you can do so while being centered in your true voice. Or, if you would otherwise get into an irreparable situation, use a little of your coercive voice, but try to avoid doing this as much as possible. Despite what our fears tell us, very few situations are truly irreparable.
In fact, a lot of the time it can be good to let old structures crumble, especially if they were built upon foundations of coercion. For instance, ignoring coercive voices will get you fired from jobs and thrown out of schools very quickly. But that is a good thing if you are dedicated to a non-coercive lifestyle. You can rest assured that even if you don’t know where you are going, avoiding coercion and seeking your true voice will lead you to good places. Maybe to the places you were always looking for, deep down.