Work is an essential part of human existence, therefore unavoidable. As Maya Angelou put it “nothing works until you do”. However, most people spend the weekend with an impending sense of dread for the arrival of Monday morning, the week is a drag as they wait for the weekend to arrive, they day-dream of retirement or an alternate universe where you have all you need for life and don’t have to work a day for it.
What makes some people truly love their jobs or vocation? By ‘love’ I don’t mean that they never have a day when they’d rather be doing anything but their job, but rather that they experience a consistent contentment with what they do.
To answer these questions, we need to explore the purpose of work, common attitudes towards work and why you should embrace the right mindset when it comes to working.
The Purpose of Work
Meaning – “The purpose of work is to give life purpose”. Without work, life will have no meaning. You find this especially true where people have a lot of money or live on money provided by others and have no need to exert themselves to earn it. These people go through a state of depression and lack a sense of purpose.
Contribution – We are all meant to contribute to the circle of life by giving into it and taking from it, like the Lion King song states. Work is the means by which this contribution is made. Being just a taker leads to a lack of fulfilment.
Dream – Work allows you to chase a dream and bring it to reality. No-one can bring your dream to life if you don’t chase it, to chase it is to work for it. You can have all the talent in the world but without hard-work, you cannot become the best in the world.
Self-Actualisation – In Maslow Hierarchy of Need Model at the top level is the need for self-actualisation. This need is only fulfilled through the achievement of full potential by creative activities, in other words, to achieve fulfilment is to carry out creative work.
Rest – A final argument for work can be made in the sense of the Christian story of creation. The all-powerful God chose to work 6 days to express his creativity, only then did he rest on the 7th day. This story illustrates that true rest is preceded by real work.
Common Attitudes to Work
· People use the slang word ‘hustle’ to describe hard work – this can sometimes, have a negative connotation indicating lots and lots of aimless and mainly frustrating activities to get rich, which some feel most often is a futile pursuit
· Some say, “why work when I am so talented”
· Some think people just get lucky not everyone has to work hard
· Some believe, there isn’t enough to go around anyway, therefore no matter how hard I work, I cannot be rich.
The Right Work Mindset
It is said, that “if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life”. For work to achieve its true purpose you need to find what is fulfilling and what adds value, to you and others.
Though many people just fall into a career path and a vocation or business with which they can survive, pay bills, taxes and save (where feasible), at some point, it is important to pause and ask the question, to what end is this work leading me? The investment in answering this question will provide insight into what manner of work will bring fulfilment. Why don’t most people do this? It is because they believe they don’t have the luxury to choose. They go for what they can get. It takes courage to chase your heart’s true desires.
There is a difference between the need to work versus the desire to work. Wealthy people have no need to work but take work to the next level, using their gift, talents and wealth to make further impact, instigate and facilitate change, leave a legacy e.g. Bill Gates, who is now focused on changing the world through his foundation. More so, those that continue in the field where they made their wealth enjoy the thrill of continued creativity through their work.
High achieving athletes and entrepreneurs get addicted to the thrill of accomplishments and believe that human potential is limitless, they continue to push the boundaries and explore what is achievable e.g. Roger Federer still trains for excellence even though his achieved all his goals.
Anyone can start with work that is essential as a means to an end i.e. gaining resources for creating a life he or she desires rather than as an end in itself. Then, this type of work can be seen as the key to creating a more fulfilling venture and endeavour.
Work-life Balance also needs to be considered and differs depending on what you are up to. If you are an employee, you have less control over your time than when you are an entrepreneur or own your own business.
Life as an entrepreneur is busy, varied and rewarding, but it will only stand the test of time if you master the sweet, fine balance between professional and personal life. If you’re running your own company, it usually means that you are passionate about that industry; and with passion comes dedication, and dedication means long hours, particularly in the early days. You may not have the traditional 9 to 5 job, but do allow yourself to step away because, ultimately, you will only succeed if you have an open-minded, well-rounded lifestyle, enriched with the things you love. An entrepreneur that does not manage his or her life to gain balance, runs the risk of falling out of love with their dream, due to burning out.
So, what about me, what’s my personal take on work? I have to say, I feel blessed to be able to work, I will be miserable if I am just lounging around. As someone who has walked the path to becoming a Transformational Coach, my mindset about work has truly empowered me to devise a life plan and execute it, such that I am able to build the dream life I desire. I enjoy work and an adventurous life, in balanced measures. Work facilitates my dream life, therefore is worth it.
In essence, work is never going away. Like my mentor Paul Martinelli says, “no work, no honey”, (perhaps where the term “busy- bee” was coined). He also says, “no work, no money”. So, we can’t see work as a problem, but as a solution and enabler. Work may be exertion, but the outcome can be rewarding and life-changing, only if you have the right mindset, and a plan of action to deliver specific outcomes for your life from it.
Whatever you decide to do with your life, make sure it’s worthwhile.