I first heard the term “funemployment” back in 2009. There was an article in the LA Times that summed up the “situation” I was in after selling my business, EMPICS.
It had been a challenge to give an answer when, in your 40s, and people ask politely what you do – or forms arrive that require you to put in your occupation/status. I’m not retired (bald, but not that grey). Unemployed doesn’t sound right either – I’m not queuing down at the Job Centre. Funemployed is now a feature of my vocabulary and my standard response to any “what do you do?” questions.
The Urban Dictionary has a number of definitions of funemployment. I like this one the best:-
“The condition of a person who takes advantage of being out of a job to have the time of their life. I spent all day Tuesday at the pool; funemployment rocks!”
I’ve not spent 5 years of funemployment at the pool – although I did take the time to learn how to swim! It’s been a time to reflect, make bigger life plans – and to spend time with our children. One of the quotes in the LA Times’ article was from a lady called Aubrey Howell “I feel like I’ve been given a gift of time and clarity.” My feelings echo that – it has been a gift.
Back in 2006, when Carrie, my wife, and I left EMPICS after the sale, we had some things we wanted to do (i.e. watch the whole series of West Wing back-to-back – not done!) and some things that we vowed not to do (i.e. start drinking sherry on the sofa at 10 o’clock in the morning – thankfully, we resisted this too!). We also had grand plans to travel – but we still had a commitment to bring up our children … so this is on the list for our next years of funemployment. We have been lucky to see some of the best years of our children’s lives (they are now 12 and 13). This was an added bonus after the frantic early years of their life. After our son was born in 1997, I can remember Carrie sitting nursing Joe, with a laptop on the arm of the settee, writing a business plan to get VC funding in from 3i.
Funemployment has given me time to reflect, take on new skills and gently philosophise about the balance of life. I’ve not been idle. I have taken on some substantial projects – creating a children’s charity and advising an aristocrat. I have learnt that funemployment is not just about doing fun things when you are unemployed (i.e. Fun, Unemployment). To me, it is a state that I will always aspire to be in – and others should too. It’s about Fun, Employment.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Confucius was probably the founder of the Funemployment movement!
My last “proper job” was in 1983-5. I was a photographer at the Leicester Mercury. It was one of the most enjoyable times of my life. Working within a community, making connections, then gradually gaining trust and respect is a rewarding process.
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