Minimalism and work – a balancing act?

Would you rather eat a dead frog or lick a live one?

Most of you will probably know the popular college drinking game called ‘Would you rather…?’ where one has to choose between two (usually horrifying) dilemmas.

But apart from being a rather entertaining way to be grossed out by your friends, I’ve discovered it to be a rather useful life tool to create ultimatums for yourself, especially when it comes to the difficult yet important issues in our lives, like work.

How do we balance our money/job needs with our desire to be more minimalist?

I’ve been asked this question a few times before, but it’s taken me a little time to find good answer. I’ve discovered that the best way to answer this question is by asking another one (or three…)

When we think about work, it’s all about choices. Lot’s of people neglect asking themselves important questions regularly. They just blindly go with the flow from school > university > job > retirement and forget to stop and check if they’re even going where they would like to go.

three ‘dead frog’ questions to ponder

Now, here’s where others will ask you obvious questions like “are you passionate about your work?”, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and so on, but those aren’t the kind of questions I’m interested in. I prefer something more challenging and ambitious – something to really get the brain ticking.

Most of us are so lucky to live in a day and age when it is possible for us to do anything we ever wanted. We have more freedom of choice of what we want to do than any other generation in history. Most of us are no longer hindered by the information and communication obstacles that stopped our predecessors from learning and doing what they wanted to do, when they wanted to.

So it’s time for some new and better questions.

Money or Time

Would you rather:

  • work 8 hours a day and have extra cash
  • work 8 hours a week and have only what you need

How you answer this question is important because it decides what kind of job you want to do. We will see below that some jobs simply cannot be done in less than a full day’s shift (such as working in retail or service) – you’re paid by a company to help customers out for that many hours a day. On the other hand, there are jobs that are highly paid but only require a few hours work, so you earn much less in terms of salary. Which one you prefer depends on a whole range of factors, from what kind of job you enjoy doing, what kind of skills you have or even where you live.

But the most important factor is whether or not you need a high salary to sustain your lifestyle. In my case, I don’t have a high life overhead, so I don’t need to work as much. And then, I use that extra time to travel, study or sleep because I’m quite lazy by nature (I’m not sure whether this is the cause or effect :S )

Connection or Freedom

Would you rather do a job that requires:

  • your presence
  • what you create

There are advantages and disadvantages to both sides, and they’re not always mutually exclusive, but which one you choose largely depends on the kind of person you are. Jobs that require your presence usually involve being interacting with customers and usually some sort of trained skill is required. Some people find these jobs quite fulfilling too, because they’re able to connect with new and different people.

The flip side is that you have to show up to wherever the customers are, which, if you like your freedom, can be a pain in the ass. Jobs in retail/service sector are examples of these. On the other hand, jobs that only require what you can create, provide more possibility of freedom, if that’s what you want. Examples of these include anything that you can just ‘send in’ over the internet, from freelance writing to wordpress theme designing.

Now or Never

Would you rather:

  • do great things once you’re retired with money
  • do them now on a shoestring

This one is a trick question. A lot of people think that they have to choose between the things that truly matter, and the things they think they have to do right now, like getting a well-paid steady job, buy a nice car/house, start a family etc. But they forget that they don’t have to wait until they’re retired to do what they’ve always wanted to. Or until they’re rich. You can live a millionaire’s lifestyle from right now.


As for myself, I’ve been tutoring English for a few sessions per week. Each hour requires my presence and what I create. I bring my experience, materials and teaching methods to the table (I have a TEFL certificate). Fortunately, my fees are quite high per hour, so it’s worth it for me to show up. However, I’m working on moving towards freelance translation so that I would be able to work from anywhere in the world… and/or from the comfort of my bed (see I told you I’m lazy).

In any case, here were just three questions to consider. It’s important to keep asking status-quo-challenging questions because you may find out something amazing. Some of the best ideas and revolutions in history came from stopping to ask questions.

Do you have any ‘dead frog’ questions you would like me to answer? Comment below or find me on Twitter and I’ll choose the best ones to answer in a future post!


  • Layla

    For the choice between 8 hours a day vs 8 hours a week… I think there might be a third choice: seasonal work. That could be manual labor, or being a teacher (at least I assume as a teacher you would get a couple months off in the summer.)

    I know someone who thinks up the most ridiculous “would you rather” questions. Every single one is inappropriate to repeat.

    • Jessica

      Hey Layla,

      Yes! I’ve been considering seasonal work myself, for me it’s almost perfect as it give me a chance to both settle down and do a job I love for a part of a year, and then fly away when I want to for the rest of it. I’ve also considered living in different places/countries seasonally too, to catch the summers on the beach and Christmases at home etc.

      PS. I have a friend like that too 😛

  • Leslie

    I really like your header. haha 😀

    • Jessica

      Hey Leslie!

      Hehe, thank you, I’m glad it’s back too :)

  • Andre

    The most interesting question for me is the one about work. Since money doesn’t matter much for me it was an easy decision. At first. Then I thought deeper: What if working full-time is the only option to create something that transcends yourself? Working in an enterprise can give you resources you wouldn’t have otherwise (smart people, specialists, equipment, budget etc.).
    Furthermore, what happens if I like to work? 😉

    By the way, I find translation interesting, especially Latin texts. Unfortunately I’ve forgotten much since I left school.

  • Andy

    What advice would you give someone who has the desire to live free, but has student loan debt? :(

  • Oh Jodie

    I am so excited that I have transcribled it in my notebook ,and you’ve said the words I cannot exactly express well . THANK YOU