What do you work for?

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Had an interesting conversation with some friends recently and it got me thinking about what we work for.

In Western societies many of us work, in addition to money and sustenance, for self-actualisation (in a Maslowian sense).

Many of us pick work that is meaningful to us and which meets our aspirations. But many also toil away in work that has no significance beyond a steady paycheck.

In the past, for most of us, our toil was over by the time we had reached 40 years of age. As Hobbes said of life in his day: “the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

But for many of us life is no longer like that. Instead we face long lives of comfort and ease. And this very longevity calls us to a different approach to life. As C. S. Lewis noted: “How incessant and great are the ills with which a prolonged old age is replete.”

Since mere survival is not the only thing we face in modern society, it is worth questioning what we work for over the course of our life.

What regrets will we ponder as, in old age, we face the end of this life? What things should we do now to minimise those regrets?

Will it be too much work that we regret? Will it be that we made too much money? Or will it be the human experiences of joy and sorrow that we missed, the relationships that slipped through our fingers while we toiled?

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One Reply to “What do you work for?”

  1. I’ve worked this out over the last 12 months, for myself anyway.

    I love people and being around those who I share history with or can make new history with. Since so much time is spent working, I choose to do something that makes me feel I have added to the world. My hobbies involve contributing to society or to my own mental and physical health.

    Every day I stop and take in every beautiful moment and the bad ones so that nothing is lost in the jetstream of life.

    It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you take time to appreciate what it gives you.

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