A little more freedom


Tied down by your job, a mortgage and a busy calendar? More and more people are choosing a less confining life. Journalist Otje van der Leij looks into ways to enjoy a little more freedom in life.

According to trendwatcher Adjiedj Bakas, this is what the future will look like; economists at Oxford University, UK, are predicting that, within the next 20 years, 47 percent of current professions will disappear. Robots and computers will be carrying out more and more of the work we humans currently do.

Less jobs, more sharing

What’s more, the world population is going to reach nine billion. In other words: There will be less work and it’ll be shared across a greater number of people. “We’ll be seeing a society with two or three different speeds,” Bakas says. “People at the highest speed—with a special talent—will continue to work full-time. Other people will work for money two or three days per week, and patch together the rest of what they need by doing odd jobs, and sharing and trading.”

The nice thing about this development is that we can do what we like with the time we’ll have left over.  There is more freedom. We can play music, teach, do charity work or take care of the children. “Life won’t necessarily be easier, but it will be freer,” says Bakas. “It’s already changing. When the industrial revolution began, we were working weeks of 70 hours in countries like the Netherlands, the US and Japan. Some two hundred years on, it’s been reduced to thirty-five hours, and it’s going to become even less now.”


Win-win situation

Bakas: “This requires a pragmatic and creative approach, and you can already see it being developed. For example, there are homes for the elderly that offer free accommodation to students who work there as volunteers. The young people are happy to have a free place to live, and the elderly are happy with the company of young students. It’s a win-win situation.”

What I like most about the whole concept is the time that becomes available for doing what you want: Waking up of your own accord instead of when your alarm clock tells you to, reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee, or just staring out the window for a while. It all becomes possible when your life is no longer dominated by a heavy schedule.

Fertile soil for creativity

What’s more, the best ideas always come when you are kicking back and resting; when you savor life with all your senses and your mind is given free rein to knit together all your random thoughts. This is fertile soil for creativity, for a colorful and adventurous life. Or as American author and poet Maya Angelou said: “Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure. […] Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.”

  • The full story ‘Free as a bird’ can be found in Issue 23.

Text Otje van der Leij Photography Hanke Arkenbout