Are the best years of your life going into a job you don’t like? Are all those hours of work breeding resentment or undermining your health? We should each be doing what we love.

In a world in which some work too many hours and others work none, couldn’t we learn to share the work that is available? When New Zealand corporatised her national railways in 1982, 12,000 jobs were immediately lost. Thus began a legacy of selling off national assets, increasing automation and, with the full scale onset of the global economy, the exportation of jobs toAsia where labour is cheaper. IconicNew Zealand brands like Fisher and Paykel and MacPac are no longer made inNew Zealand. Today, in a sense, they are Kiwi in name only.

We are only now beginning to witness the dire social implications of increased unemployment due to the policies of privatization and exportation of work. No one out of work remains happy for long. Increasing incidence of depression, alcohol and drug abuse, crime and the abuse of women and children are just a few of the most visible symptoms of the economic choices we’re made in the last four decades.

One way to reduce unemployment is for those who work too many hours to share their jobs. This was commonplace in schools when we were living in the Netherlands between 2002 and 2004. Teaching is an increasingly stressful occupation, not the least due to the collapse of many families and the behavioural issues in children as a result thereof. When a teacher works three days a week instead of five, they have the down time necessary to approach their highly important jobs with more enthusiasm and poise.

Initially it is a challenging step to reduce one’s hours due to the resulting reduction in pay. For many working 50 and 60 hour weeks it is normal to buy lunches and other meals and to rush through those meals. When jobs are shared and work weeks are reduced to, say, 30 hours there is the opportunity to pack your own lunch and to take the time to enjoy it. When you earn less you automatically reduce waste and recycle more. You have to. So as you gain off-work time you automatically treat the world more respectfully. When hurrying and scurrying and overworking, takeaways and throw-aways become the norm. It’s easy to waste when you have more than enough.

I work 28 hours a week at the library. The income from that job just pays our regular bills. Lucia’s yoga, meditation and healing work helps keep us afloat. I have the education, skills and experience required to obtain a full time management position with a significantly higher wage than I receive now. But I wouldn’t even consider looking for such a job. If I did, we’d need to buy another car, immediately increasing our carbon footprint and adding to the waste of our planet’s resources, resources which are diminishing by the day. I’d also have less time for all the other activities I love like spending quality time with my family, gardening, walking, dancing and writing. So what would be the point?

I love my work in the library, but I also love the time when I’m not there. Health and contentment come with balance. I’ll choose them over increased material wealth and stress any time. Will you?


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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See

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