Why do you go to work every day?
It seems like a simple question, yet its one that very few people can answer confidently. We spend our young lives learning in school all of the basics until we are teenagers. Then we have to choose post-secondary education that focusses on a specific profession that we are interested in, even though we have only heard about it from a friend or family member. Then suddenly we are in the workforce, battling it out to find a good job that pays well, and then we go on and work faithfully for a quarter of our entire life before we retire. Occasionally we will get some vacation time or sent to a conference to talk to other people who’ve done the same thing in different parts of the country, and once in a while if we work hard we might even get a raise.
Yet after all this time and effort to define our lives by this thing we have worked hard to do since we were young, why can’t we confidently define why we do it? The common response is ‘well I need money to pay my bills,’ or maybe ‘It gives me the money to do the things I love.’ Sometimes people answer ‘to support my family,’ which is a great reason, but it doesn’t explain why you chose that profession in the first place. The people who answer this way are the ones who dread waking up on Monday morning, who watch the clock because they can’t wait for 5 pm so they can go home and relax. they are working for the weekend, for their vacation, and for their chance to quit or retire.
Every so often, someone will answer differently. They will say ‘I love my job because I believe in what my company is doing,’ or ‘I love helping my customers/clients/colleagues,’ or ‘I love the opportunities I have working here.’ These people are the ones who work late not because they have to, but because they want to put in the extra effort. They are the ones who get up in the morning and look forward to the day’s challenges, who personalize the issues of their organization, who tell people what is great about their line of work.
I respect every single person who works hard to support themselves and the ones they love, regardless of what they do. Anyone who gives up their time and effort for those they care for is worthy of respect. The difference is that happy people feel their work coincides with their purpose – their reason for existing on this Earth. This purpose can be as simple as wanting to benefit the world by being an accountant at an organization that develops new technology.
*It’s not what you do, its why you do it!
In the end, whatever job you have, ultimately is is not what you do that makes you happy, its why you do it. You don’t need to quit your full time job with benefits in order to chase your dream of becoming an ultimate fighter when you have a family at home. Very few people can do it successfully even when they have no other commitments and all the time in the world to train. But if you can find your reason for doing the work you do, and clearly express it, it becomes a lot easier to change what you do and how you do it to align with your purpose.
So stop, ask yourself why, and have your work reflect your answer every day. I guarantee you’ll enjoy your work and life, a lot more.