I call it the Art of Coming and Going


I call it “coming and going.” I have set up one form of it for myself, and I have seen others with many variations on the theme.

What do I mean? I mean the ability to “come and go” from a job place, a company, a profession – even from work altogether. The ability to choose to work for periods of time, and NOT to work for periods of time.

Why do we have this notion that we are supposed to work at least 160 hours per month for 45 years? Tolkien said it best – “not all those who wander are lost.” People who “come and go” pick up all sorts of new experiences and perspectives. If they leave a work environment and choose to return, they do so with so much more to offer. So why do policies discourage this?

What if we simply stopped viewing “coming and going” as a bad thing?

I have. I was lucky enough to garner a set of skills and work experiences that let me work independently as a consultant – which means I choose who I work with, and when. I know many who’ve found similar ways to work. It’s a trend in many professions, in fact – from journalism to various areas of computer science. And, with new national health-care policies that mean your healthcare coverage doesn’t have to be tied to employment, I think we’ll see even more workers empowered to indulge their “wandering” side.

Many are beginning to talk and write about how we are all heading toward being “free agents.” Don’t miss the key word in that phrase – “free”. What if we could fashion careers, professions, jobs, and companies that helped more of us embrace this freedom?  What if we operated in a way such that we knew people would want to “come” to a job or a profession for a while; “go” for a while; and perhaps come back? Whether that is to pursue personal interests, care for family, children, etc. – for both women AND men.

When that happens, we take our power back. I read a comment once that we had become lazy – most of us had traded our freedom to corporations in exchange for security. But we’ve learned that security was an illusion, and the price was often too high.

So how about reclaiming some freedom instead?

Your true job – and mine – is to be happy. But to do so, to feel good about what we are doing, we may have to take our power back. I choose what I do, and when, and with whom. That’s the kind of world I want to live in. That’s the kind of businesses I want to see us building.

How about you?

1 Comment

  1. Jonathan Smith January 13, 2014 Reply

    Hi Michelle,

    I appreciate the perspectives you offer here. Long-term I aspire to this work model for myself, especially in early retirement. As you point out, the new healthcare law will greatly facilitate personal job mobility and working independently. And as you experienced, this sort of flexibility requires skills that are readily acknowledged by and transferable to other employers/clients.

    -Jonathan Smith

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