How to find your dream job

by Dan Bartlett

What to look for

The ideal job is stress-free, responsibility-free, asshole-free, near to your place of residence and well paid. You'll be lucky if you find something like that. However, there are lots of good jobs that should be at least stress-free, minimal responsibility, and reasonably well paid. Your job should be something you can leave at the office.

The best way to find these kinds of jobs is through a temping agency like Reed or Adecco if you're in the UK. They can get you a simple admin office job, with reasonable pay (around £7p/h and upwards), and they're really flexible. You get to move every few weeks/months, and when you find somewhere you like, you can impress and get them to take you on permanently. You can also tell the temping agency when you want to leave, when you want to be working and when you don't want work for a while. You can't really ask for zero-responsibility jobs, but asking for admin work is as close as you will get. This kind of work will also make quitting easy, and finding another job even easier, because admin jobs are everywhere. Ideally you want a situation where you're not deeply integrated into any team (which you nearly always won't be if you're just admin) so no-one really pays attention to what you do.

You won't get promoted, which is a good thing. Promotion means more responsibility, more out-of-work stress. It also means more money, but you'll end up spending most of that on travel, junk food (you'll have less and less free time to prepare real food), medicine for when you get ill from junk food or increased stress, and entertainment and drugs to numb the emptyness that defines how you earn your food tokens.

If you have a car and drive to work, try and get a job nearer to home, somewhere within cycling distance. I've never had a car so I ride everywhere and I'd never get a job outside of my cycling limit. When my work colleagues talk about driving in traffic queues every day to get to and from work and meetings, I shudder. If you ride, you'll save money, get more exercise and fresh air, have the ability to ride home at lunch and prepare a healthy meal, not blow up the world, not kill people when you hit them, and have little need for a car.

What to do in work

Your job doesn't need to be the slightest bit interesting. I can easily squeeze 3 hours of my own interesting activities (writing/reading/browsing) into my 8 hour day, and that's not including a good 1 hour lunch break every day. The key to getting away with anything, is just to do what you do well, and be polite. Manners go a long way as far as trust goes. Always having an air of busy-ness about you is useful too.

Don't rush. Nothing is more important than keeping cool and relaxed. If you find yourself rushing, slow down - your work is probably not the slightest bit important to anything in your life.

In Ran's Advice section, he says trying to change people's minds in work is a waste of time, and I totally agree. Help yourself - read websites and books, make plans, or write something. People might simply take inspiration from someone riding to work in 5 minutes, making their own food to eat, being laid back and care-free, and reading interesting books. Some are too absorbed and unfortunately consider their work to be their life. Be polite to them, and sometimes they'll soften up and reveal some understanding of your care-free wage labour! Or they'll just get really uncomfortable.

Always try and bring your own food for lunch/snacks, or scavenge meeting leftovers if there's anything nutritious around (rarely). If you've chosen a job near to you and you ride, you can go home and prepare your lunch. This is by far the best option, and getting out of the office for lunch does wonders for relaxation and clarity.

How much money do you need?

Most people don't really understand what work is. This paragraph from Your Money or Your Life sums it up well:

Our life energy is our allotment of time here on earth, the hours of precious life available to us. When we go to our jobs we are trading our life energy for money. You could even say that money equals our life energy. So, while money has no intrinsic reality, our life energy does -- at least to us. It's tangible, and it's finite. It is precious because it is limited and irretrievable and because our choices about how we use it express the meaning and purpose of our time here on earth. Money is something you consider valuable enough to spend easily a quarter of your allotted time here on earth getting, spending, worrying about, fantasising about or in some other way reacting to.

Most people are literally addicted to the notion that they simply need to earn as much money as possible. I might not earn as much as most people, but I'm calm, happy, stress-free, spend lots of time with family and friends and have easily enough money to survive and build savings.

There's no real way of knowing exactly how much life energy you should trade for tokens, but put simply, you should have enough to pay for food, a roof over your head, and some left over for savings. The more of your life you spend earning money, the poorer the quality of your general life outside work because of the added strains and stresses of wage labour - money simply doesn't increase quality of life. Cut down, earn less, spend smart, live more.

How to stay healthy in work!

Most ergonomic advice you hear in your office is just to save companies being liable for your injuries. There are, however, some basic things that you should do to help keep your body from turning into an office blob.

At your desk, keep your shoulders loose and your posture reasonably upright. If you're getting lower back pains, you're slouching the bottom half of your spine - try sitting up without your back touching the back of the chair. Nearly everyone sits with tense shoulders and it's really bad for you and builds up "stress" because all your energy gets blocked up. So many people have back problems. Sometimes it's hard not to have some kind of backache, even if your posture is good. This is simply because human bodies were designed to run around and be mobile, not sit in front of flashing screens for prolonged periods. Try and get something to put under your wrists for typing and using the mouse. If you wrists are on the desk, and your fingers are moving at a higher height, you're going to get nasty aches and probably repetitive strain injury.

Most offices have a filtered water tank where you can get nice cold water. Drink lots of water for two reasons - firstly because it's great for you and secondly because it will make you take more toilet breaks which means movement and stretching for your body.

When you go out the office, stretch! Spine twists are fantastic for your back, because sitting upright in a chair knots all your vertebrae. Swing yourself side to side with your arms loose, using your thighs to twist your upper body. You should do this slowly - doing it fast isn't good for you. You'll hear lots of clunks and sometimes a lovely tingly feeling which is stagnant blocked energy escaping.

If you get a chance to walk outside the office, take lots of deep breathes to cleanse yourself of the dead recycled office air. You can either do Bellows, which are quick, deep, cleansing breaths, or just general deep breathing. With Bellows, breath out hard, using your diaphragm to push the air up and out of your nose, and then take a big inhalation through your nose, pushing your tummy out and filling your lungs from the bottom, without moving your intercostal (between your ribs) muscles. The inhale/exhale should last about 3 seconds, so it's quite fast. Don't carry on for too long though, or you'll flood your brain with oxygen and feel dizzy. General deep breathing involves using the same components (nasal inhalation, diaphragmatic breathing) but inhalation is slower, exhalation is slower, and you retain breath for a few seconds before exhaling.

If you want to increase the quality of air in your office, you could bring in an ioniser which pumps out negative ions which are super good for you, and super rare in postive-ion-laden areas such as offices and polluted cities. Nearly all Chinese offices actually have ionisers installed alongside/instead of air conditioning units and the productivity always goes up because people are happier and breathing healthier air.