Do You Enjoy Your Life’s Work?

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There are two statements that bother me

“I am going to work hard, and then sell my business, and then I am going to relax and enjoy myself”

and

“I am never going to stop working, It’s all I know.”

The concept of retirement is a relatively new one, invented originally in 1881 by the President of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck. Before then people just continued working until they died. He set the retirement age at 70.

In the USA the Social Security Act was passed in 1935, and the official retirement age was 65. Life expectancy for American men was around 58 at the time. So it was not a big risk, right?

I won’t go down the rabbit trail of politics here, but rather, I want to point out that work and play are distinct concepts separated by weekends, vacation or retirement.

And I think that’s a problem.

You should pick a job that you enjoy immensely, that allows you to enter what is called “flow state” where the hours and days pass by with relative ease.

Don’t settle. If you are an owner, focus on the work that (for the most part) brings you joy now, where you offer a unique value to your business.

An owner full of passion will be an inspiration to her or his team. Don’t get sucked into the drudgery, you will take your people down with you!

When growing up, I learned the saying that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

It’s true. You need activities that recharge you brain, heart, soul and body. But you should also pick work that doesn’t drain you. Otherwise you risk living a life of resentment.

Aristotle, (b 384 BC) probably the most influential philosopher in western culture, said that pleasure is not the goal of life, and that intellectual stimulation is the best kind of fulfillment.

I see that in my father, who stayed intellectually active “at work” in some capacity until he was about 80 (and I still call him to discuss work.) He remains sharp as a tack and still intellectually curious. Isn’t that how you want to live life?

Your Challenge: Take time to assess your work and life. Can you bring more joy to work? And can you be more diverse in your non-work activities? Life is for living, but it is up to you give your life’s work true meaning.

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