A friend recently asked me, “Why do we work?” It isn’t the first time I’ve been asked that question. I, myself asked it some years ago, which is why I went on a journey across the world to find the answer. The best answer I could find.
I started my journey in Spain, doing the Camino de Santiago – St Jean Pied de Port, in the Pyrenean foothills. Look it up. You’ll fall in love and maybe, just maybe, make the journey yourself.
Although you don’t have to do that if the answer you are looking for is to the question, “why do we work?”
Before departing, I had a corporate job that paid me above average, more than my peers – and I knew this because initially, I had turned the job down due to pay. The company, in an effort to bring me in, increased the offer significantly. Not something I expected, after all, it was a career switch and I had little experience in my new field.
In any case, thankfully, after three years of growth, development, and achievements I could only have accomplished there, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel the world – to find out why I was doing what I was doing every day – so, I took it.
Daily, I started with this notion that I would somehow, by the end of it, have clarity…days, then weeks of walking 20km a day with everything I owned on my back passed by – I walked, trotted, ate, slept, thought, met new people, talked, questioned and thought some more. I didn’t have the answer after 600 miles, so I kept going.
I traveled through the major Capitals in Europe before heading to Asia. In the process, I created an International Sales consultancy which carried me through my travels, exposed me to different cultures, decision-making strategies and motivations for living and working. I learned how to market and sell across multi-cultural barriers; then I learned how to teach this to others.
In 2012 I returned to the US, still in search of the answer I was sure would transform my life. I continued to look for and find work that engaged me, which led me to San Francisco to consult for Art galleries because art makes me feel alive.
I loved every minute of it.
Particularly the challenge of discovering that unlike the territory of Insurance and Financial Services, the world of Art has no set walls.
I became resilient by working in diverse environments, learning how to walk before I ran and learning how to fly before I walked so that I could leap into new industries.
Ultimately my goal was and is the same, to be extraordinary in everything I do so that I can find a satisfying way of living and growing in my work.
After all of this though, I felt I had no good answers to the now pressing question of why we work.
So, I set about doing what I do when I want to learn something in depth and can’t figure it out myself; I went to the experts. Reading a book by an author I had often read, completely transformed my view of the question and every answer encountered to date.
From my experience and the author’s knowledge, here is a snippet of what I learned:
Clean out your closet – If you have upsets about previous jobs, resolve them immediately.
Appreciate every opportunity, learn from it and apply that to what you do next.
Look for work that satisfies your needs and wants. Got for it and make that work your life’s work because this moment – right now – that you are living is your life today. Tomorrow you can choose to do something else, and when you do, that too will be your life’s work.
Move forward – Whatever the circumstances, in the words of Walt Disney, “Keep Moving Forward!”
To Sum It All Up
What exists for sure is an opportunity to make the most of every moment by giving life our best.
There is no set course. There is no simple answer to why we do what we do or why we work – We choose it or not. Either way, we write our own book!
We can choose to be fulfilled by making an effort worth making – for ourselves and for those who invest in us.
So, whether you are cleaning houses, teaching or directing a company, do it well.
Do it because you, like me, need a sense of satisfaction and work done right does that for all of us.
Perhaps our work chooses us and we spend a lifetime trying to explain, “why”? What do you think? Interested in the title of the book mentioned above? Send me a message. Either way, let me know what you think. Your feedback shapes my work.