Like many people, I spend the majority of my time at work, more often than not in an office building away from home and with people I have not actively chosen to be around. Yet when one activity dominates such a large proportion of one’s life, in my opinion it makes sense to try and enjoy and take something away from it, otherwise life can begin to feel like somewhat of a waste.
Put a ding in the universe
The reality is that we go to work because we have to. We’ve all got bills to pay, food to buy and goodies to enjoy. And whilst this reality is clear to me, I’m trying to figure out what I can do in order to make the most of my time at work so it doesn’t become just a chore.
One of the ways I’ve found to get the most out of work is to have a philosophy or raison d’etre. Whilst this might sound a little fancy or pretentious, it’s really just about having a clear outlook and set of beliefs and values about what you want to do in your working life. It’s a way of keeping sight of why you do what you do. Otherwise you become just a number, another cog in the machine.
I can’t stand the idea of looking back on my life and wondering what I really accomplished over all those years. I want to be able to look back and know that I made a genuine contribution to the world. Or, as Steve Jobs said, put a ding in the universe!
Why I work
I’ve realised over the last few years that the reason I work is because I want to add value to people’s lives. When I think about the people I admire most (which includes The Beatles, Richard Branson, Stephen King, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs) it’s clear that they all share something in common: they have all enriched people’s lives.
Whether it’s through music, technology, art or storytelling, the people I look up to (both personally and professionally) have all created something that enhances people’s existence in one way or another. And they’ve done this not through simple, short term actions but by creating something meaningful that really matters, for themselves and for others.
Whilst I may not have all of the natural and learned ability as many of my lofty heroes, I like to think that because I have a clear idea of why I do what I do, this will continue to inform what and how I do things so that I can continue to look for ways of adding value in different fields of work, hobbies and pursuits.
I think it’s important for anyone looking to create something meaningful to know why they work. An underlying philosophy provides focus and direction for why you turn up to the office 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week for the best part of 47 weeks of the year. For me, it’s about adding value in whatever I do so I can look back at the work and contributions I’ve made throughout my life and be proud of what I’ve achieved.
That’s why I work.