Why Do You Work?

Arbeit Macht Das Leben Suss

My thanks to each and every one of you for responding to the first question in this new series of newsletters.

Some great thoughts and ideas. My favorite (don’t tell the others) was a five-word comment.


Which - roughly translates to "Work is what makes life worthwhile."

Does it? Or is that just what many of us have hammered into us since we were kids? Talking of which, someone else wrote;

"God gave us work in order to learn about ourselves through others."

A nice sentiment that arguably connects to the German quote, but doesn’t help an atheist! Meanwhile, an article from Aeon was shared in the People First Network titled “The Tyranny of Work” - with the subheading

Jobs have become, for so many, a relentless, unsatisfying toil. Why then does the work ethic still hold so much sway?

Indeed! I liked it so much that I responded that I would be stealing the link for this newsletter.

"Do not consider it stealing, consider it as referenced leverage."

Got it!

I also stumbled across this during my travel through the internets this past week. It’s a great read and relevant to this conversation. I was caught by the opening quote.

“I want to live,
I want to give
I’ve been a miner
For a heart of gold.
It’s these expressions
I never give
That keep me searching
For a heart of gold
And I’m getting old.”

~ Neil Young

I mean who wouldn’t be? But, much as I do like a good 🎶 musical reference, it was this that really caught my attention;

“Everybody should get a year off once in a lifetime to go look for new purpose in life and make tough life decisions under professional care and support.”
Hanzi Freinacht

We live in an ‘always on 24*7'society. Burn out is rife. I think Hanzi is on to something. (Read the whole thing.) He’s not alone, people like the VC Brad Feld are famous for taking time out to recalibrate. Cal Newport, a professor at Georgetown University is another. But Hanzi is arguing to make this possible for everybody. And not just for a month, but an entire year. Imagine the reaction of any boss being told that you are taking a year off to look for ‘a new purpose in life’.


Back to your comments, another favorite.

“I’d really rather not!”

Synchronicity … it isn’t just coincidence!

I wrote in more detail about this in a blog post this week. Sometimes synchronicity just takes your breath away! Long story short, a couple of ‘indie developers I know talked about this very question in their podcast this week. Take a listen.

It gets worse, I hosted a podcast this week with Frederick Van Johnson. Totally unplanned, we went down one particular rabbit hole as to how Frederick even got started in podcasting (This Week In Photo specifically). It truly is a story unto itself.

Sorry, I haven’t got the show up on the network before this was newsletter was due - but it will appear here when it comes out. Click on the link and subscribe with your channel of choice and it will magically appear in your stream.


Key point. Not a conclusion.

Comments were both prolific and varied, but there were themes of continuity, including;

  • We generally associate work with some kind of purpose. The more we feel that purpose, the better we relate to the work. (This maps well to my PPPP model)

  • Work starts with creating income to put ‘bread on the table’.

  • We have our dreams, but fear holds us back.

And yet - when we have the choice … doing nothing is not what we want to do.

Let me quote one response that I think summarizes the theme;

“I believe that people who say “I wouldn’t work, if I had everything to live my life” do so, because they are afraid to move forward.”

That ‘afraid’ is the key. If you have more to say - please do.

“Rules for Happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”                                       ~ Immanuel Kant

Thank you for your attention.
Throughout, I have not quoted the source, since my assumption is that when people don’t respond in the comments they are wanting to keep their heads below the parapet. And I respect that. You can see the live public comments to this question here.
Please do keep the comments, emails, calls, and carrier pigeons coming. This is only the start of the conversation. We will come back to it.