I believe we’re meant to work.
Since it’s most people’s goal to escape the rat race, that may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true. As humans, we were created for a purpose and that purpose is not to sit in front of the television for hours and hours on end watching shows or playing video games. Just a hunch!
Instead we’re meant to contribute – in many different ways. Here are five reasons I believe we’re meant to work.
1. We’re Social Beings
People need people. We thrive when we have a balance of getting and giving support to and from others. We get depleted at times when we’re always giving, but never receiving. Overall, we get a sense of fulfillment when helping others.
This is what makes “social” media so interesting to me. We get the unlimited potential to connect with others, but the “connection” itself isn’t as influential as having that face to face conversation with someone in person. It beats no connection, however.
In order to fill your “social cup,” make sure that you carve out time to connect with those that are important to you on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be each and every week, but maybe you get together with that group of girlfriends or buddies once a quarter to catch up on life.
Or instead of having lunch at your desk in front of your computer everyday, have lunch with a coworker instead. That little bit of social interaction could be a catalyst for increasing your work satisfaction over time. If you work alone, find another person like you that you can share a meal with once a week. It’s worth it!
2. We Need to Have Purpose
I think work provides an avenue to fulfill a purpose – or at least the feeling of it. Just getting through each and every day doesn’t cut it for the long run. As people, we need to have a deeper meaning to life and work often fulfills that.
Many people struggle with finding their “purpose in life.” The age old question, “What’s the meaning of life?” is around for this very reason.
Even if your current job isn’t fulfilling your purpose (or maybe you don’t know what it is yet), try to do your very best work day in and day out. This will help you to garner a sense of accomplishment, that only hard work tends to provide. Activity begets activity, so if you’re working hard at your current endeavor, you just increase your odds of running into the next or right purpose in your work.
Purpose doesn’t have to come from your primary career either. You can be passionate about your family, your extracurricular activities (hobbies) or serving your community. Don’t limit yourself to think that your current career has to be your sole purpose in life. That would be a fallacy at best.
3. Feeling Productive is Good for the Soul
There’s nothing more satisfying than checking items off your to do list or leaving a hard day’s work feeling satisfied at the amount of stuff you were able to accomplish. Feeling productive is energizing and good for the soul.
That’s one of the blessings and curses of working. We are blessed when things go well and we leave for the day feeling accomplished at what we were able to get done. On the other hand, it’s a curse in that when our day goes astray (which it often can) due to technology issues, work drama or something else, we don’t leave with that same feeling of productiveness.
Having a small list of non-negotiable items to accomplish at the beginning of the work day is a great way to ensure a feeling of productiveness upon completion of your workday. End each day outlining a few tasks, that even if nothing else got done the next day, if those few things did then you’d consider your day a win.
Then make sure that those are the things that you tackle first and give the majority of attention to the next day. Rinse, cycle and repeat.
4. To Maintain a Standard of Living
This may be the most obvious one on the list! Of course we need to work in order to make money to pay the bills and buy groceries, etc. It’s an obvious reason, but also completely valid.
In the past, people wouldn’t work in the same traditional sense that we do now. Instead they might have a plot of land and grow their own food, while raising animals. Not everyone would have access or the skills to the same provisions, so they would barter or trade their goods or time to get what they needed.
It still works this way today, but we’re just more heavily dependent on actual money to exchange for goods or services. People do still barter, in fact there are barter exchange companies based on the very concept of bartering goods and services instead of physical money.
When you think about your current habit of trading time for money, consider at which point enough is enough. I think it makes sense to work (hence the post), but not to overwork. Many people don’t know when to call enough enough and continue to shoot for making more and more money, often at the expense of trading their precious time for it.
Time which could be spent with friends and family and connecting per the socialization category that we talked about. I challenge you to consider where your threshold ends and try to maintain a balance of earning and living. It’s not all about work, after all!
5. We’re Creative Beings
Think of all of the innovation that has happened over the last 100 years. Someone turning one hundred years old today would have seen horse drawn carriages, the first automobile, airplanes, television, computers, smartphones, Skype – the list just goes on and on. Really think about it for a moment though. A 100-year old could have both been transported via a horse and buggy and by a self-driven car – doesn’t that just blow your mind?
We’re creative beings and therefore meant to create. I often wonder if we’ll be able to sustain today’s pace of innovation (a discussion of the effects of which could be a whole other post), as that pace just seems to be getting faster and faster.
Regardless, technology today has provided a platform to receive information at an almost instantaneous pace. This just spurs creation and innovation forward. We can continue to build on one another’s ideas immediately and continue to make products and therefore life better and better.
What if you don’t feel like you’re creating anything? Or that your creation has stagnated as the needs of your business have grown or changed? Are you buried underneath the administrative parts of your business (managing people, invoicing, etc), rather than the tasks that drew you to your work in the first place?
If this is you, I challenge you to take a step back and start creating again. Start doing some of the work that drew you to this career or business in the first place. Creation is energizing. It can also be draining at times, but mostly energizing in my experience. It spurs additional ideas and excitement. It’s a great way to fall back in love with work!
We’re meant to work. We’re meant to work for the purposes of socialization, fulfilling our purpose or at least getting closer to figuring out what our purpose might be. Work provides a sense of productiveness rarely found to the same extent elsewhere. It provides for our standard of living and gives us a platform to create.
All of these things are important to feeling content and happy in life. If your attitude towards work is more negative at the moment, I challenge you to think of the benefits. Sure, the idea of winning the lottery and doing whatever you darn well please sounds nice. But doing nothing or not having any structure to your days and weeks might get old after awhile. Work can be good, very good with the right attitude!
What’s your current stance on work?
Photo Credit: Rob Watling