The goal of this post is to help you become clear on the real importance of work in our lives, by answering the following questions:
- What do we work for?
- How do we motivate ourselves to continue working?
- If money didn’t exist, would you still work today if all your basic and primal needs are met?
I also want to instill positive beliefs around modern work, and to dismember the concept of work as simply being thought of as, a synonym for ‘The 9-5’, drudgery and soul-sucking activities.
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What is the importance of work?
I remember the mid 90’s fondly, being dressed up by my parents on an autumn morning, getting ready for school. Back then, times were peaceful. There was no responsibilities to uphold to, or sanctions being handed out (detention doesn’t count) for simply being a ‘kid’.
You know what I’m referring to: go to school, do as your told, eat your greens, play all day and got to sleep when it gets dark.
I thought back then that this was ‘the life’. Until I uttered a question to my mother, “why do you and daddy go to work?” She responded, “To pay the bills.”
My father butted in saying the following,
“You see the PlayStation you’re playing? Having a job brings you those things.
It allows you to eat, to buy whatever you want, and most importantly to ensure you’ve got a roof over your head and aren’t living on the streets.
Make sure you work extremely hard, so you can acquire a good job and buy whatever you want.”
I took it all on the chin and headed to school not thinking about it any further.
In recent years I have been wondering whether that is indeed the importance of work.
Is a job, simply a place we go to for 40+ hours a week simply to earn a wage? To buy stuff we want?
Is that really what a job is?
Finding The Importance of Work
Around 2009-2010, I read many articles and books around this issue; which actually helped me deduce a proper reason for not only wanting to work, but also for wanting to live.
3 authors stuck out to me the most, as they understood the problem I was having with regards to defining work as a concept.
- Chris Guillebeau, author of ‘The Art of Non-Conformity’.
- Scott H Young, author of ‘Learn More, Study Less’
- Napoleon Hill, author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’ and ’16 Laws of Success’
Whilst each author specialises in their own field, they all share a very important theme that I have instilled within myself.
The idea that creating a service of value, that solves a problem is the real importance of work.
For many people, the basis of why they work is survival, either for themselves or their family. But the true importance of work, and being satisfied with it, comes through delivering a service of value to people who are in desperate need of it.
If fires and floods never occurred, firefighters as a profession wouldn’t exist.
If education wasn’t important for the growth and development of civilisation and the human race, universities and the internet wouldn’t exist today.
The list goes on.
Just about every business is delivering some kind of service of value to a group of people.
I can understand that for 90% of people, both in the west and east, work because they have to not because they want to.
Some people work for pride, others for happiness, and others – to keep themselves busy amongst other things.
These are all valid reasons which I probably ascribe to as well.
Thinking back to what my father said, I don’t find the goal of wanting to buy things a compelling enough reason for seeking out employment. If the reason for working was simply to enable me to buy things, at what point is enough?
At what point do I say, “I no longer need to buy things. I have enough?”
We earn, we buy.
We earn, we buy again.
It’s a cycle that never stops.
Surely there must be a deeper purpose to spending 50+ years in the world of work?
Is personal gain and avarice such a large component of human nature as Machiavelli so eloquently describes in ‘The Prince’?
I’d like to think not.
For me, working is about delivering a service that people desperately need, and in-turn, find extremely valuable to their lives.
I also work because I know the world and the universe is calling out to me; to input my creativity and talents into making it a better place.
I’m solving problems which threaten the entire makeup of an individual from their physical health to their career, as part of the balanced wheel of life.
Most importantly, I work because I enjoy it.
Currently, I earn nothing from it, but I know sooner or later I’ll be paid handsomely.
Doesn’t that mean that I am also subject to the deadly sin of avarice?
If I truly wanted to make heaps of money at the expense of my health and those close to me – I’d be an investment banker or some sort of charlatan who makes money by teaching others how to make money.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should all behave altruistically in nature because ‘it’s the right thing to do.’
We all need to eat to live, so asking for a payment for our services is a perfectly valid and sound thing to do.
What I’m saying is we should look a little deeper into our careers, the actions that have gotten us where we are today, and whether the actions we’re making today is going to take us where we would like to go next.
Looking at my career, goals and dreams, I would take a job that simply paid that bills (like I’m doing now), if it would help me position myself for future success.
Such as the time to build a side business or explore my dream career.
However I wouldn’t stay there for an eternity with my head in the sand screaming “there are no opportunities!”.
The Problem With Doing Work For Money
The problem with doing work for the money is that it can motivate, but it can’t inspire. And that level of motivation lasts for such a short time that your body and mind will begin to wear and tear as you overwork your soul for the acquisition of material assets.
Of course you will get some instances where the pursuit of money is a strong driving factor of one’s success, especially if their livelihood and well-being is being thrown into jeopardy.
Two examples that illustrate this would be the famous kindle couple who write erotic novels, and Chris Gardner (Will Smith), in the 2006 film ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’.
Chris and the kindle couple were in more or less the same situation.
They were borderline homeless.
However, they both displayed the power we all have within us: The power to change our circumstances when everything is going against us.
They both needed money, and most importantly, they were both willing to do anything to get it.
However understand that it was not the object of money they desired, but rather the positive impact it would have on their lives and the lives of those around them.
It was the roof, the food and the smiles of their children that propelled them to make steadfast changes to better their home.
This video highlights, exactly what motivates us in a job environment. They key aspects I take from the video is as follows:
- Personal fulfillment
- Desire to solve problems
Striving to acquire money personally makes me feel empty.
It’s as if I have let the coin take over me, rather than taking over the coin and dictating how I will earn it; via smiles, happiness and joy.