The real reasons we work (it’s not just about money)
Do you ever question why you work? At one time, I sure did. I was stuck in a career path where I was making good money, yet I was left feeling numb and completely uninspired by life. I remember lashing out at the people around me thinking they were “so uninspiring”. I laugh at myself now. It took me having a mental breakdown to realize the person who was so uninspiring was ME. This recognition changed the entire trajectory of my life. It was four simple words that made me lose my mind.
At the time, I lived near my alma mater, the University of British Columbia. Every day after work, I would unwind by going for a bike ride around the campus. Back then, it was still relatively undeveloped, a place of wide open spaces. But I could see the changes coming. Piece by piece, the lands were being sold off to developers. The grassy fields where I would stop to laze amongst the wildflowers and let the sun warm my face were disappearing and high-rise condos were slowly taking over the sky. I’m not a dummy. I understand that a university is a business, and that this was their business model. They were selling off the lands to acquire funds to operate the school, however, I thought it to be a shortsighted solution. Of course, I was also selfishly angry about it because the place I went for sanctuary in the midst of a hectic city was vanishing. Then on one of my daily rides, I noticed the university had hung a new set of flags on their street lamp posts. The flags read “A Place of Mind”. I lost my mind.
“A place of mind?” I roared. “Why does everyone value our minds so much? It’s the very reason we make such terrible shortsighted decisions. And why is money always the bottom line? What about heart? What about soul?” I cried. And then I sobbed for four days. I could barely function through my tear-filled haze. By day four, I started to wonder what I was really crying about. It seemed excessive to be so upset over the business dealings of an academic institution. I realized I wasn’t crying about that. I was crying about me. It was me who was working solely for money. It was me who was living from my mind. It was me who was not living from my heart and soul. That was something worth crying about.
That day I made a decision. A decision to live the rest of my life from my heart and soul. I also committed to bringing this perspective to the world of work. This launched me on an entirely new career path, one that has allowed me to be inspired on almost a daily basis. Thirteen years later and here I am, still writing stories about the joy of work.
Over time, I have greatly expanded my perception of why I work. Sure, it’s a way to make money, but to me, money is the result of work, not the reason to work. Unless you want to talk about money as energy. Then work becomes an experience of learning how to flow energy to us and through us into the world. That’s a much more interesting perspective of money and work. For the sake of argument, however, let’s agree that we live in an economy that uses money as a form of exchange and work is a way of procuring money. But is this the only reason to work? I have some other ideas.
Some of the real reasons we work are to:
Work is a pathway of self-discovery and helps us to understand who we are, why we are here, and what we have to offer.
Work is a way to connect with ourselves, other people, and the world we live in. We all yearn to be in conscious relationship, even us staunch introverts.
Work is where we open ourselves to allow energy to flow through us into the world in the form of new ideas, creations, and potentials to be realized. (A personal fave, for obvious reasons.)
Give our gifts
Every person is born with a unique set of strengths and when we apply them in service to others, they become our gifts.
Acknowledge each other
If it’s true that we all have gifts to give (and it is), then it’s a reciprocal blessing to receive a gift from another as an honouring of their valuable offering.
Contrary to popular belief, work is meant to be enjoyed. This arises when we do work that provides opportunities for us to do the activities we love to do. Not so hard to imagine, really.
Who needs to get on a plane when we can have an extraordinary adventure every day at work? It’s fairly easy, it just requires us to do one thing every day we’ve never done before. Voilà, adventure!
We are not here just to perpetuate the status quo. Work is a platform for us to innovate and birth new ideas that move humanity forward.
There is nothing more satisfying than taking action to make our ideas real in the world. Ultimately, this is what all work is.
Every person has a unique lens on the world and work is a way to share our individual perspectives through a multitude of mediums.
Be in community
Work gives us a reason to come together through a common bond and build something greater than just ourselves.
By bringing our true selves to the world through our work, we have a tremendous impact.
Live our truth
Our truth lives at the intersection of all of the above.
I cringe every time I hear someone say they wish they didn’t have to work. I yearn to help them create the opportunity where their work can be everything I’ve mentioned above. Work is much more than just an exchange of our time, knowledge, or labour for money. It’s a way to live a truly fulfilling life – an inspired life.