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The Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, Unemployed and Overworked- 21st Century Edition Paperback – September 1, 2003

188 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

An odd mix of amateur psychology and self-help is offered by this engineer happily and creatively unemployed for 14 years. His clear-as-a-bell message is that making the most of leisure involves knowing yourself inside and outside of work. And that, for most overworked and undersatisfied Americans, amounts to an overwhelming task. To some extent, Zelinski tames the process with a combination of humor, cartoons, quotes from the famous (and the not so), fan mail excerpts, and a host of exercises to try. Explored in depth are the nature of boredom (complaining is one sure sign), the value of work, inner passions and goals, and the potential maleficence of money. None of these thoughts are new; Abraham Maslow, for one, advocated the stages toward healthy humanity. Nor are the statistics, remarks, or observations unique. But the notion of how to enjoy free time is finally geared to a mass market. Barbara Jacobs --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Ernie Zelinski helps others find time to live.
-- Fawn Fitter, Career Writer, Boston Herald

"In The Joy Of Not Working, Zelinski explains how to
combat boredom, develop motivation, live for today, rethink
the terms of financial independence, and redefine
the meaning of fulfillment."
-- Don Oldenburg, Career Writer, Washington Post

"For all the time we spend craving leisure time,
discussing it, dreaming about it and planning for
it, few among us use it well . . . This is
where Ernie J. Zelinski comes in."
-- Carol Smith, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"The message is that leisure, not work, is critical to happiness. . . . Zelinski points out that no one'¬?s dying words have ever included, '¬´I wish I had worked more.'¬? "-Financial Post"Ernie Zelinski helps others find time to live."-Boston Herald"[Is the] key to success and keeping life meaningful."-Contra Costa Times

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 2 edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580085520
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580085526
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

International Best-Selling Author
"Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free"

Ernie J. Zelinski is an international best-selling author, speaker, unconventional career expert, and prosperity life coach.

Ernie is the author of the international bestsellers "The Joy of Not Working" (over 285,000 copies sold) and "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free" (over 275,000 copies sold), two life-changing books that have helped hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world live more satisfying and happier lives.

Ernie's core message - that ordinary people can attain out-of-the-ordinary results and make a difference in this world - is at the heart of his work. Ernie deeply believes in the powers of creativity and well-intentioned action as the most important elements for how ordinary individuals can attain personal prosperity and financial freedom.

Ernie's latest creative works include the Kindle edition of the inspirational novel "Look Ma, Life's Easy (How Ordinary People Can Attain Extraordinary Success and Remarkable Prosperity)" and its companion "Life's Secret Handbook (Reminders for Adventurous Souls Who Want to Make a Big Difference in This World)".

Thousands of individuals have contacted Ernie by phone, e-mail, and regular mail to let him know how they have experienced inner renewal and personal growth as a result of reading one or more of his blockbuster books.

Ernie has negotiated 111 book deals with publishers in 29 countries for his various creative works - which have now sold over 900,000 copies worldwide.

Ernie is uniquely qualified to write books such as "How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free", given that he opted for semi-retirement when he was only thirty years old and close to financial bankruptcy (with a net worth of minus $30,000).

Yet today Ernie is an international best-selling writer, entrepreneur, and prosperity life coach who maintains a three- to four-hour workday and doesn't like to work at all in any month that doesn't have an "r" in its name.

Ernie lives in Edmonton, where, besides hanging around his favorite coffee shops with his laptop, he enjoys running, cycling, reading, and traveling. Ernie's second home is Vancouver, B.C., which he visits five or six times a year.

Ernie speaks on the topics of early retirement, entrepreneurship, and creativity. The Turkish Society for Quality recently spent over $20,000 to have Ernie speak about "The Joy of Not Working" to 2,000 executives and scholars attending its 17th annual convention in Istanbul.

Meet Ernie at his websites:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

204 of 213 people found the following review helpful By Erik Olson VINE VOICE on September 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
"The Joy of Not Working" is a welcome antidote to the workaholic mentality. A former engineer, Mr. Zelinski dropped out of the corporate rat race in favor of "The Life of Riley." He does what he loves (consulting, speaking, and writing) to make a living, and indulges in leisure the rest of the time. That doesn't mean he loafs around all day watching TV or playing video games. He discourages such empty distractions in favor of well-rounded activities like learning another language and volunteering at a homeless shelter.

Mr. Zelinski makes an excellent case for living a full life free of regret. I liked his positive attitude and constant motivation towards discovering and embracing my passions. His examples of persons who left a dreary job in favor of pursuing their dream occupation might be just the prodding some folks need to make their own leap (a similar book had that effect on me, and earned my eternal gratitude). Overall, the book's lighthearted tone and numerous applicable quotes were uplifting, and every chapter brightened up a break or lunchtime at work (although displaying a book with this title on your desk might upset a Bill Lumbergh-type manager). My favorite part was his short section on becoming an author. Every aspiring or discouraged writer should keep it handy as a pick-me-up.

However, the Life of Riley is a subjective thing, and finding your version of it might take some time and testing. Yes, it would be ideal to immediately discover and make a living in one's passion twenty hours a week. However, it may take awhile to actually discern your calling and develop it into a viable occupation. Until then, having a decent job that provides time and funds for investigating potential passions off-hours doesn't suck.
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110 of 115 people found the following review helpful By George Fulmore on December 26, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The following is a review I did years ago of the first edition of this book. There are later editions that are not out of print, so the book is still very much in print and I still highly recommend it. It think Zelinski is the best there is when it comes to writing about retirement in a positive, helpful light. George Fulmore.

As an instructor in adult education on the subject of retirement, I have looked for books on the subject that cover the major areas of retirement in a positive vein. I think The Joy of Not Working is an absolute classic. I use it as the basis of my class, and I get nothing but positive feedback from those who buy it and read it. As a start, it is clear that retirement is not for everyone. Many people will hate it or not even consider it for various reasons. This book is not really meant for them. It is for the rest of us who are looking for reinforcement and encouragement in making the retirement decision. The author helps us through any thoughts of feeling guilty or fearing bordom in retirement. Then, he is off on a great section that provides very practical ways of filling our increased leisure time. His Leisure Tree chart is worth the price of admission alone, and this is followed by pages of detailed activities in case one has not come up with enough on his or her own. Additionally, there are sensible suggestions on finances, happiness and all kinds of other things that relate to getting on with the joy of retirement and leaving the workplace behind. I highly recommend The Joy of Not Working as THE retirement primer for those who want a positive outlook on life and one's future in a world that does not evolve around work. As I said in the begining, such a life will not appeal to all. But to those of us to which it does, this book will be prized on our bookshelf. Bravo Ernie Zelinski. I truly believe this book is a classic that will wear well with readers for decades to come.
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266 of 290 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Believe it or not, I have the soul of a lazy person. I have enjoyed time off from 6 weeks to a year. I've enjoyed freedom in my work, especially now. So I totally understand the joy of Not Working.

Zelinski's book has many things going for it. For example:

(a) Too many of us are workaholics.

(b) We need structure, purpose and a sense of community, with or without a job.

(c) Work smart, not hard ("peak performance").

(d) The checklist on page 54 can be a wake-up call.

(e) We can gain several hours a week if we give up television.

But as a career consultant I am concerned about the book's core advice. Page 55: "The first day your job does not nourish and enthuse you is the day you should consider leaving. Indeed, I advise you to quit."

Pretty strong stuff! In my experience, few jobs provide daily nourishment and enthusiasm every day or even every week. I would say, "If you've outgrown your job, begin a search for alternatives. Don't do anything until you have a plan."

People do miss their jobs - even jobs they hated. I have never seen statistics, but my experience suggests at least 50% of those who quit without another job regretted the decision. One discussion list posted a note from a 40-something woman who had chosen enjoyable, low-paying jobs in the personal growth field. Now she was ready to move on, with no nest egg to fund a career transition.

Job dissatisfaction actually can be a misleading signal. Many people who seek a career change actually need to relocate geographically or work on relationships.

My biggest criticism of the book is the potentially misleading presentation of information.
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