Seven Ways to Live a Post-Work Life in the Automation Age

When I hear the phrase post-work life, I think about what people do when they retire. Things like moving to Florida, traveling the world, starting a new hobbie, and wearing white athletic socks with sandals come to mind.

In the age of automation and artificial intelligence, a post-work life means a world without a 9 to 5 job.  "A world without a job?!?!?!," you ask. Yes, it's possible. The post-work life is a "thing." And not just among millennials and retirees.

A post-work world is one possible future that economists, academics, and even governments are exploring around the world. 

What's a Post-Work Life? 

The post-work movement is gaining traction with increased automation and robotics driving fourth industrial revolution growth. In a recent article in The Guardian, Andy Beckett traces the post-work movement, exploring the origins of the movement and the radical idea of a world without jobs. 

There are also a slew of books and articles on what the world would be like without work. One of my favorites is called Four Futures: Life After Capitalism* by Peter Frase.  

One of the four futures that Frase imagines is a life of leisure. In this post-work world everyone's basic needs are taken care of through a universal basic income (UBI), and people are free to live a life of creativity, exploration, and freedom. This is a very peaceful existence and the benefits to society mirror that of a cultural renaissance. 

Now, you may be thinking that a life of leisure and UBI is just socialist idealism. However, with proponets like Steven Hawking, Elon Musk, and Mark Zukerberg, and a rising wave of automation hitting society, you don't have to support the notion in order to engage in an informed conversation about it. For example, did you know that Finland is currently experimenting with the UBI with some surprising results? Look into it. 

What to do with Your Post-Work Life

So a robot stole your job, eh? As I've shared in a previous post, in the future of work, no one knows exactly how many jobs will be automated (some estimate as many as 50% of jobs could be automated in the not-too-distant future). But one thing is certain, even if retirement is your only path to a post-work life--and for most of us, that may be the case--it can't help to plan ahead!

Plus, exploring what to do with your post-work life is kind of fun--it's like playing the 'what would you do if you won the lottery tomorrow?' game. 

Here are seven ideas for living a post-work life in the automation age. 

#1: Do something robots can't do as well as humans can. Dance, paint, play an instrument, perform in your local community theatre. 

#2: Start a business. If humans receive a universal basic income, it could be a safety net for entrepreneurship. Many of the pilots taking place, like the one in Finland, are revealing what people actually do for purpose and meaning when their basic income needs are taken care of. 

#3: Volunteer. The world needs more people to help out. 

#4: Get a hobby: Leisure is fun. Start caring for your mind and body. It's amazing how leisure doesn't necessarily have to lead to boredom. Write, run, do yoga, go bowling with people in your neighborhood, and start learning something that you've been putting off. 

#5: Live simply: A universal basic income is basic. That means people would have to get comfortable living within their means. Garden, explore local sites, move somewhere that feels like a vacation spot everyday. Get back to your hunter-gatherer roots.

#6: Do something good for the environment: Since you have more time to enjoy the outdoors, you might start taking better care of it. Plant some trees, clean up a watershed, pick up trash along the self-driving car highway, and ride a bike instead of driving--let's face it, you've got some extra time on your hands. 

#7: Spend more time with friends and family. The best part of a post-work life, in my opinion, would be spending more time with the people you love to be around. 

Start Your Post-Work Life Now

If you are interested in learning more about creating a future-ready organization or preparing for your post-work life (whether it comes as a result of retirement or automation), start with identifying your mindset about the future.

Join the hundreds of people who have already taken Future Focus as a means of preparing for the future of work and life. 

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Chris Groscurth, Ph.D.

Chris Groscurth, Ph.D., is author of Future-Ready Leadership: Strategies for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. For the past 20 years he has worked as a researcher and strategic advisor to leaders across healthcare, finance, manufacturing, government and education. In addition to his consulting work, Chris addresses thousands of leaders annually through speaking engagements and workshops. Throughout his career, he has held leadership positions with Trinity Health and the University of Michigan. Chris received his doctorate in human communication processes from the University of Georgia and has bachelor's and master's degrees in human communication studies from Western Michigan University.

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