Every week, you anxiously await the high quality advice this column provides on how to succeed at your job.
Well, not today. Not yet, anyway.
Today, we’re first going to talk about my job! Not my job as a highly paid, hugely popular columnist, but my real job. That’s right. I am not the stylish sophisticate you think I am. What I am is a farmer.
Yup. I was once a hard-charger, hobnobbing with big-city swells and making a Wall Street megasalary. But to live my dream of getting back to the land, I gave it all up. (Well, most of it. I still have the $3 gift certificate to Dunkin’ Donuts that comprised my golden parachute, and a laser pointer I filched from the CFO’s desk. It drives the chickens crazy!)
Yup, I have chickens. And pigs. And llamas. And ducks. (Ask anyone — ducks are the new chickens.)
Yup, I hoped off the treadmill and now live off the land. I no longer punch a time clock, though I do occasionally have to arm wrestle a cow. Am I happy?
That’s another story. It’s D.K.’s story, in fact.
“D.K.” are the initials of a woman who recently sent a heartfelt question to the Workologist column in The New York Times.
“My husband I work in high-paying jobs in the tech field, in New York City,” she wrote. “We are exhausted by our jobs. So we want to take the drastic step of moving upstate to a small town near the Catskills, and abandoning our corporate careers.”
“How can we predictably make this decision,” D.K. asks, “not knowing how the transition will work out?”
It’s a good question and, as usual, the Workologist completely blows it. “Quitting any job entails the seductive idea of a clean break,” he responds. “It’s such a lovely fantasy that you hate to cloud it with, you know, hard thinking and gritty research.”
The snarky spoilsport continues to throw cold water on the dream. “I hate it when people say, ‘We’re just going to take a leap of faith,” he writes, quoting Jon Acuff, the author of “Do Over: Make Today the First Day of Your New Career.” “Because that usually means: ‘We have no strategy.'”
Strategy? If you want to mess around with strategy, you might as well stay in your current job. The entire purpose of dropping out of the working world is to forget about strategies or long-term planning or common sense. After a lifetime of making smart, thoughtful career decisions, what you want — what you need — is a big helping of crazy.
If you are like D.K. and want to transform from a city mouse into a country mouse, the recommended “strategy” involves spending time — “weekends, at least” — in the targeted smaller community.
Great idea, Workologist! Spending a weekend munching freshly baked scones in a charming B&B is exactly the same as mucking out the pigpen and rototilling the arugula.
Besides, you can practice rural life at your current job. Demote those workplace-casual duds from Banana Republic to the nether regions of your closet. Get yourself some denim bibbies from the Seed & Feed. Get rid of your Aeron chair and sit on a bale of hay. Cover the floor of your cubical with compost and put in a cover crop of winter rye. It really puts the nitrogen back into the carpet.
If you can’t pull free from your current corporate gig, the Workologist points out that telecommuting has become much more common. You may be able to continue your work from a more rustic setting. Or, in your case, continue your lack of work.
There are certain employees whose absence would be noticed immediately, but someone who does as little as you could easily have one or two years of continued salary before anyone realizes you were gone.
In his final attempt to defend the status quo, D.K. is ordered to “take a hard look at why you want to take this step.”
“Is it possible,” the killjoy Workologist asks, “that simply finding more rewarding jobs where you are would address a lot of your frustrations?”
Yup, it is possible, but then you would never hear the sound of the rooster waking you at dawn, or experience the surprise of learning that pickleworms have eaten your entire kale crop, or feel the joy of having a llama crawl into your bed to cuddle.
Be careful with those llamas, by the way. They take all the covers.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at email@example.com.