Learn From Nature

Reduce your working hours to follow your dreams


I have never been overly motivated by money. It's not that I don't use it and value it, its that I have always valued my time far more. However up until recently that hasn't stopped me mostly working 5 days a week for the last few years. I never really questioned it. It's what we are supposed to do. We work 35-40 hours a week (lots more for some) because that is what society says we should do. When did that get decided? And why 5 days a week, why not 4 or 6? Even though our wage usually increases over time or as we move from job to job most of us keep the hours the same. Why do we do this? We survived on our wage when it was x amount a year ago and now that we have potentially been given a pay rise or got a new job why not reduce our working hours instead of take the monetary incentive?  We often complain that we are too busy to follow our dreams/get fitter/spend more time with the family but in reality the solution is right in front of us if we just dared to take it. It doesn't have to be a drastic change, why not reduce our week just by a half or full day to give us time to pursue what really matters to us? When we look back at our lives what will be most important the fact that we made more money so we could afford an extra extension on a house that is already too big or that we achieved our wildest dreams?

Here are some answers to the excuses you are probably already thinking of:

  • My boss will say no - Have you even asked?
  • It will  make me look bad and will prevent me from getting promoted in the future - Possibly, but what is more important achieving your dreams, YOUR ACTUAL DREAMS!!!! or getting promoted so you can make more money and be even busier doing a job you don't care about? Besides most people will admire that you aren't afraid to do something different to what is expected and you will learn a lot of extra skills that can be used in your current job.
  • I can't afford it - Take a look at how you spent your money over the last month. Apart from food and rent for you and your family what else is essential? Where can you make savings? If you are still unsure why not put aside the money you would lose reducing your hours for a couple of months and see how you get on. 
  • I enjoy my work and don't want to reduce my hours - Would you still do it if you won the lottery? If you can hand on heart say you would then I am truly pleased for you. Make sure you take the time to appreciate the position you are in because I believe very few people can honestly say their circumstances wouldn't change. Why settle for anything less than your dreams?
  • What about my pension and making enough money so I can retire - Nothing is permanent. Why not try it for 6 months or a year and if it doesn't work out go back to 5 days a week. You may put off your retirement by a few months at worst but the way things are going we will all be working until we're 100 anyway. What sounds better to you; do work you love and don't actually want to retire from or count down the days until you can retire and then do something you love? 

The reason I know the answers to these excuses is because I have been using them for the last few years. I have always done work I have enjoyed and so I used the excuse that because I was doing work that was helping people or raising money for charity that it was enough, I was doing my bit to make the world a better place. But if I'm honest with myself it wasn't enough. It wasn't my true passion and I was't doing enough to be the change I want to see in the world.  I no longer use those excuses. I recently took the opportunity to brake free from what society expected of me. I have dropped my hours at my current work to 4 days a week so that I can spend time volunteering at Farmers on 57th an organic urban farm in Vancouver. Every week I get my hands dirty learning about the organic food industry, grow food for the local community via a CSA program and spend time outside with nature. It's not a big change but it's a step in the right direction. Perhaps because I have made that change this time next year I will have reduced the hours further or even all together, perhaps not. I won't know until I try it.

I realise there are some people who genuinely could not afford to reduce their hours as they are still chasing security and fighting to afford to put food on the table. That is not right. If more of us weren't still chasing money long after we reached that level of security there might be more hours and money to share with those in need too.

Convenience v Conservation


"Would you like a water?" a friend offered. I was really thirsty, I'd been working outside all day and had forgotten to bring water. The thirst could so easily be quenched with a bottle of water...seems a pretty obvious solution. However the bottle I was offered was made of plastic. Before this journey to be the change I want to see began I wouldn't have thought twice about simply connecting the dots, I'm thirsty, here is some water, problem solved. But now I seem to have acquired an environmentally conscious little voice in my head "for someone who is trying to reduce your plastic consumption you're not very good at it". I am facing more and more decisions like this since starting down this path of trying to be more sustainable. I could easily drink the water, ignore the voice, and choose convenience over conservation, or I could make a minuscule step in the right direction towards the change I want to see.

The problem is it's not just water bottles that creates this internal debate, it is with everything. We as a society seem to have started a war, convenience v conservation, and convenience is winning. We are presented with so many choices as a consumer and each time we have an option, choose the convenient option or sacrifice that for the sustainable option. Buy a takeaway coffee, forget your reusable bag at the store, whatever it is very rarely it seems is the convenient choice the most sustainable.

The convenience option is to take the water bottle which creates waste from the single use plastic . The conservation option is to go thirsty, I'm sure I'll survive, after all, it was my fault I didn't bring a refillable bottle. I realise this might seem a silly debate to have and am well aware that drinking water is important. However I can't help but feel a bit arrogant in deciding that my need for water that day far outweighs the damage of leaving that piece of plastic around for future generations.

"No thanks" I replied.

I went to a nearby washroom and drank the warm water from the tap, it tasted horrible, but I looked in the mirror and grinned.