Monday, December 17, 2012

What do you want to do Today?

I'm writing from my hometown, where we've been enjoying a sort of early Christmas morning together. As usual, no home visit is complete without late-night conversations about morals, meanings, and future wishes. Last night we stumbled on a question that resonated with all of us: what in your life is meaningful?

This is a particularly poignant conversation in our time. Millennials - talented, educated, driven young people - are struggling to balance work, ideals, morals, and "off time". We as a community have new standards for what constitutes work time, as we are virtually present to each other at all times, answering emails and networking from home. We have also learned that no job is secure. 

Now, doubtless, the ideal is to find a job that a) supports you and yours, b) gives you enough freedom to feel autonomous and family-centered, and c) is also meaningful to you.

But last night we discovered that many of us would rather have a) and b) and sacrifice c). For us, we found that our family life, our home life, or our side projects and hobbies were more important to us than a job that is deeply meaningful. And in real life we had chosen jobs that had better hours or benefits over jobs that had greater personal appeal but were high stress and long hours. We did so because the job, the career, was simply never worth sacrificing our home time, hobby projects, and autonomous pursuits.

Sleeping on it, I remember Dewey and the pragmatists. They would say, "Do whatever makes you more free." Whatever career path leads to a greater sense of freedom and potential is the right answer. I think that any job that consumes all the time breaks this law, even if it is a personally fulfilling and meaningful job, because with that level of time commitment and stress forbids any other activity or life commitment. On the other hand, entrepreneurs work non-stop on their jobs, which are their lives, but a successful entrepreneurial venture leads to freedom as the head of a company, with total autonomy, and an organization that does exactly what you want.

I commit that, until I can work for myself in a meaningful way (author, blogger, speaker perhaps), I will continue to sacrifice meaningful jobs for freedom. What is your perspective?

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