The unlikely cure for burnout? A second job

Like Murphy, many overemployed people take financial steps that once seemed out of reach, from buying a home to building up significant savings. In a Discord conversation, one member relishes the feeling of receiving two paychecks on the same day while others react with elated unison emojis. In another channel, called “2x-success-stories,” members discuss gains ranging from paying off credit card debt from loved ones to getting a 130% or 200% boost by getting a second job.

But many of the victories are not material. Against all odds, supporters say the idea of ​​working more — and having to, in theory, work 80 or more hours a week — is not just financially liberating, but also emotionally and professionally liberating. Discussions on Discord warn members of corporate “red flag” behavior, from startups with high expectations of satisfaction to cultures of unnecessary urgency. These conversations indicate a growing disenchantment with the idea that the workplace is like a family, with members often citing their real families – spouses, toddlers, parents – as the people they choose to prioritize over the loyalty to the company. There is a widespread belief that many jobs are nothing more than an exchange of services for pay, until it is no longer beneficial.

Overemployed people rarely seek self-actualization and the search for meaning at work. Many avoid career ambitions, adding additional jobs that are relatively menial and allow them to complete their work without the obligations that come with higher roles. Those seeking fulfillment from their 9 to 5 are deterred through discussions in Discord and Reddit, encouraged to look elsewhere and resist corporate encroachment on their lives, and encouraged to find meaning outside the constraints of employment.

Although there are stories of people working half a dozen jobs, most members of the community simply work two, avoiding lifestyle inflation and expense drift and saving for their individual goals or family. Many are content to freewheel, not necessarily because they are eager to profit from the companies, but because they have already experienced burnout due to overwork at a single job, receiving little in return for their efforts. In one thread, where someone is considering quitting one of their three roles, another poster replies in a neutral tone: “Don’t quit, just quit.”

With multiple jobs, the posters say they never really get attached to any. It is a rejection of work as an identity and an embrace of jobs as a means to an end. And most have an exit strategy, financial goal or number that will see them wrap everything up. Overemployment provides a sense of newfound confidence and positivity in these uncertain times, a sense of regaining power.

Murphy has no moral qualms about overuse, suggesting it’s both ethical and commonplace. “My mom worked two jobs all the time growing up, but we don’t really think that’s weird because it’s a working class situation,” she says. “But if you’re a knowledge worker and you have multiple jobs, there’s a feeling that it’s unethical. It’s not, if you’re doing your job.

Still, Murphy was afraid of being found out and potentially losing both roles amid the pandemic. His anxieties came to a head when an HR meeting at his first job materialized on his work schedule. She was terrified that her secret had been revealed. She imagined the HR coordinators of the two companies somehow communicating and blowing up her life, with only herself to blame for trying to move on and save faster. In reality, the call was quite different: the company was laying off and she was being fired after several years. “I had saved a lot of money,” Murphy said. “I ended up being incredibly grateful to have the secret second job.”

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