There is a strong movement among our generation against the traditional idea of work. It is evident in the rise of the entrepreneur culture that includes start-ups, the gig economy and even social media stars. To be honest I have been fascinated by and find myself in a certain sense being attracted to it.
The spirit of the movement is to break out on your own, be your own boss and control your own destiny. With this it promises freedom; freedom from a boss, from an office and from job insecurity.
As with most things there is good and bad wrapped up together.
In general I like the idea that our generation is taking on personal responsibility for our lives and careers. We are innovating and challenging the status quo. We desire a better balance in our lives and want to be able to spend more time with our friends and family. All of these aspiration are good.
But there is also the negative side to this movement. It is the side that appeals to our minimalism and lack of patience and this is where I think we need to be cautious.
Pictures of people laying on a beach sipping mojitos promoting their “lifestyle business” is a bit of a hoax but also leads us to think that satisfaction comes from doing nothing or at least avoiding things that are challenging.
Even our current retirement system, in a certain sense, sets us up for disappointment. The idea that we are supposed to work and save with the sole motivation of retiring at 65 and then sit on a beach or play golf everyday if a bit of a myth.
I think that we have a lot to learn from our careers and from works. Here are a few reflections:
1. We find satisfaction in doing challenging things not in sitting around
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for vacation and the needed relaxation that renews us. But if we had the opportunity to turn our daily life into one continues vacation I would wager that the vast majority of people would be miserable. We were just not wired to obtain satisfaction from inaction. When was the last time that you spent all day on the sofa binge watching Netflix and then stood up and told yourself, “Wow that was a really productive use of my time?” Its when we face a challenge and overcome it that we get a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. When we go for run, finish a project or cross a few things off our to do list we feel that we have spent our limited time wisely.
2. We find satisfaction in creating
For whatever reason we enjoy creating. This could be through music, drawing, painting, inventing, or starting a business. There is a part of us that finds joy and fulfillment in being part of creation. I think this is part of the fascination with entrepreneurs. In most large corporations we feel very detached from the items or value that we create for our clients. As an entrepreneur you are directly connected to the client and the product and that is tremendously satisfying.
3. Through work we teach our children
One thing I have struggled with once I had kids was the desire to spend more time with my kids then I spend at work. I realize how limited my time is with them and want to take advantage of ever second I have. But part of my role as a parent is to be a teacher. An important lesson we teach our kids is the value of work. When they see us leave and go to work and when we come home and talk about what we did during the day we are teaching them that even though we love them and love spending time with them work has a priority in our lives.
4. All of this takes time
Finally work teaches us that it takes time to build your career. Stop looking for the magic idea or magic product and start working hard to do your job better right now. The funny thing is that when we work hard at improving what we currently do we will find that opportunities and ideas will come to us naturally. There are no short cuts to success and if there were short cuts success would not be as fulfilling as it is. Embrace the fact that the road to success in your works and career will be paved with hardships and be thankful since it is preciously hardship that makes the destination worth it.