Many people see the 9 to 5 “corporate lifestyle” as an inevitability (if you’re still in school) or a necessity (if you’re working already) but as I get older I’m constantly learning about new ways of living and looking for alternatives to the typical work week and corporate culture.
Many people work themselves to exhaustion for 40+ hours a week for 30 years, waiting for retirement to come, and only then do they allow themselves to go travel and do the things that they’ve always wanted to do. Much of this is just part of our culture, it’s just “how it is” and it’s what most of the people around us are doing.
But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see that there are people living in all sorts of ways and there are always other options and ways to live your life. Here are some ideas and methods I’ve discovered during my search:
1. FREELANCE: Be Your Own Boss By Working for Many
One of the top alternatives to the 9 to 5 lifestyle is freelancing. It all depends on your own individual skill set, but as long as you can provide a service that people out there need, you’re set. Popular jobs include freelance writing, web design, coding, photography, and graphic design.
With freelancing however, not only do you have to have the skills, you also have to find the work. Finding clients sometimes takes more time and effort than actually doing the job itself.
But as long as you can find a way to keep the income steady, freelancing may be just what you’re looking for to create a more flexible schedule for yourself.
2. DIVIDE YOUR TIME: 6 Months On, 6 Months Off
There are many variations of this method, of course, but one way to escape the 9 to 5 tedium is to escape it, but only part of the year. This may work best with jobs like serving or bartending, but some people may be able to find more corporate-type jobs that will allow for this kind of flexibility.
With this method, you work hard for a certain amount of time (say 6 months), save up, and then live off the savings for a little while. Then the next year, you do it all over again. Some travelers do this. They work hard for 6 months out of the year, and then the next 6 months they’re traveling around Europe or Asia or some distant locale.
Depending on the jobs you’re able to acquire, where you live during your off time, and how frugal you can be, your mileage may vary.
3. ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Start Your Own Business
Starting your own business is another common way to escape the 9 to 5. There are more types of businesses out there than you think and a million ways to go depending on what you’re interested in. You may want to start a multi-million dollar company, a small dropshipping business, or you may just want to set up your own shop on ETSY.
Of course if the main reason you want to escape the 9 to 5 is because you’re working too many hours, you may be barking up the wrong tree. Being an entrepreneur can take up even more time than the 9 to 5, especially in the beginning. If, however, your main goal is simply to work for yourself and have a stronger self-sufficiency and more freedom, entrepreneurship may be just what you’re looking for.
4. HIPPIE STYLE: Join an Intentional Community or Eco-Village
If you’re more of a free-spirit, you may consider trying to find an “eco-village” or “intentional community” to join. This is when a group of people join together to run a communal space on an organic farm, or other location, share responsibilities and chores, and even grow their own food. Personally, some places I’ve heard of groups doing this is in the mountains of North Carolina, in Arizona, and in California.
Similarly, you can also find jobs working at organic farms, hostels, and other organizations in exchange for room and board.
5. MULTIPLE INCOME STREAMS: $500 + $500 + $500 + $500 Still Equals $2000, Right?
Some people would like to leave their 9 to 5 existence simply because of a severe lack of variety. One great thing to do is to develop multiple income streams. You don’t have to get your paycheck for the month all from one place. You can be a server twice a week, play in a band once a week, sell some crafts on ETSY every week, and top it all off with some freelance writing.
6. FRUGALITY: Want Less, Need Less, Work Less
One alternative to the 9 to 5 grind is to simply cut down on expenses and work part-time instead. Take a look at your expenses and your possessions, then determine what you really need and what really makes you happy. If it’s excessive, cut it out. In doing so, you may find that you can live very well just working part-time. Whether that’s bartending, running your own business, or working a part-time corporate job, you may find that you don’t need nearly as much as you think.
Personally, I don’t need a Ferrari, 5 different video game systems, and 7 different 52-inch TVs to be happy.
But then again, we’re all different.
7. EARN HERE, SPEND THERE: Work Remotely While Living Abroad
What’s amazing is that in this day and age, we can make money anywhere. If you’ve chosen option #1 and are doing the freelancing thing, why not take it a step further?
Working remotely over the Internet is a great option, depending on your skill set, and can truly enable to you to live a life of freedom, going where you want when you want, and making money while on the move.
This works particularly well if you earn your money in USD, or currency from another wealthy country. Many freelancers AKA “digital nomads” earn money in USD or GBP while living in in a more affordable country such as Thailand, India, or Mexico. Many of these locations around the world offer a life of luxury and all the modern conveniences you could want for a fraction of the cost of countries like the U.S.
Nomad List allows you to look for international cities based on their Internet functionality, safety, and affordability, and is just one of the ways you can find a location that will be a good fit for your remote freelancing lifestyle.
So there you have it, just a few of the methods to consider as an alternative to the 9 to 5. Of course there are more where that came from, so if you keep an open mind I think you’re sure to find out even more ways that could work perfectly for you.
Do you have any other ideas than what I’ve mentioned above? Are you already making use of some of these methods and have experiences you would like to tell me about?
If so, leave me a comment below.
I would love to hear from you.