The Purpose of Work

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Have you asked yourself why you are working?

Let’s be honest… you do not really like to work if you have a choice. I believe most of you work because you have to earn money, which serves as a resource to keep you alive.

It is an irony. People do not really love work but hate unemployment. When they are employed, they complain about their job.

Unemployment is a taboo word. It means the economy is not doing well. How do you feel when the newspaper reported that unemployment rate has gone up for the past month? How do you feel when you are out of job? It seems like everyone is obliged to work.

Most people will ask, “What do you do for a living?” or “What’s your job?” or “What do you work as?” It will be very unnatural for someone not to be working. In fact, he/she will be labeled to be a slacker or a useless person. Worse, a parasite of the society.

Do not get me wrong. I believe work does have its positive effect. It gives us progress and improvement. We owe our current achievements to it. But are we healthier and happier people now?

Why I work

I selected these from the list of purposes for work, found in Your Money or Your Life“. I believe these apply to me for why I am working.

– to provide necessities (food, clothing, shelter)
– to provide luxuries
– to acquire new skills
– to be stimulated and challenged
– to get a way to measure progress and success
– to structure your time and give an orderly rhythm to your life
– because that’s what people do

Does any one of those apply to you? Why do you work?

When work was 3 days a week

Your Money or Your Life also mentioned that our ancestors worked about 3 days a week during the agriculture age. It was the industrial age that increased work to 5 days a week (and now more). The quest for ever more productivity and progress is taking a toll on our well being. We have been blinded that having more money will bring more hapiness. The pursuit of a big house and luxury car has been a false illusion for happiness. They cannot fill life’s void.

We want an improvement in quality of life, not standard of living. Standard of living may be a means to an improvement to quality of life, but it is definitely not a goal itself. Get your focus right.

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