Monday, November 17, 2014

The meaning of work

It is funny how much time we spend earning money, yet most people do not think a lot about what money actually is. One exercise I got from Napoleon Hill's "Think and grow rich" is to finish the sentence "money is ..." in 10 different ways everyday and write it down. There are endless possibilities. For most people it is a mean to survive. They need to pay their bills, buy food and save money for the future.

If this is all that money is about, and you work only to earn money, and you spend the majority of your life working, then you just life to survive.

This is beautiful in a way, as it shows how life is for living (and living is free). But it is also a little sad, because a lot of people do not enjoy their job. A paradigm shift happens eventually when you do not have to work anymore. Either you got really wealthy or you simply retire. In either case you will find that life without work is not very meaningful. While you enjoy the freedom at first, after a while you start to feel an urge to contribute. To do something that makes the world a better place.

To me, this is what work is about. And money simply is a representation of the value you created through it.

Living minimalist helps you reach a point where you don't need to work anymore much earlier. You can actually live with little income and hence not much work is needed to make sure you can pay the bills. If you have a family to support it is more difficult, but if you are young and just about to start a career I highly recommend to take some time working just as much as you need to and enjoy the freedom that comes with it. This helps you to experience what I described above: We all need a mission. There is a reason why we are who we are and it is a basic need to give our best building something of value. Something that matters.

If you are still stuck in working exclusively to support your consumption orientated lifestyle, you will end up disappointed once you retire. Many people become depressive then as they feel useless. The truth is, they can still do something, be it writing a book, painting or simply keeping the streets in the neighborhood clean. But they can't make the past undone. Having spent their whole life not to create value, but to satisfy superficial needs. And as every material thing becomes meaningless in the face of death, they are left with regret.

Work is always a taking and giving. Minimalism puts a spotlight on the latter.

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