The modern ideas about work which people hold so dear in reality are quite recent. For instance, the belief that work should bring fulfillment and happiness was unheard of in the ancient or medieval society.
The majority of the world’s population will have to be employed in order to survive. There are lucky few who will manage to avoid it thanks to their inheritance or smart investments. However, for most work will become an indispensable part of their lives.
Therefore, it is crucial to have the right outlook on this concept. In most countries people spend 8 hours a day at work which is huge. Considering that it is also duration of a healthy sleep, there are only 8 hours left for enjoyment (the quarter of it is normally spent on commute). So, if you want to have a happy life, finding a suitable job and developing a correct outlook on work are the first steps.
Work Can Be Gruesome
It is important not to view work through rose-tinted glasses. No matter how much you love your job, it is clear that at one point you will get tired of it. However, in this case you will most likely have just two options: quit or persevere.
Work was viewed as a punishment by early Christians. Adam and Eve sinned, so they could no longer be idle and had to toil for the sake of atonement. Aristotle and Plato regarded work as a necessary evil, so that the slaves could provide for the needs of the rich who would then be able to contribute to the world with their brilliant thoughts and ideas not smeared by the drudgery of everyday life.
Karl Marx raised a protest against the stupefying power of work which turned people into soulless cogs of the big capitalist machine. He saw how it deprived people of their humanity and led to a dull and boring life devoid of creativity. He wanted to change the status quo, but, unfortunately, his ideas were later distorted and used to serve the needs of the totalitarian states.
Even though the perspective has shifted since those times, in many ways thanks to the proactive position of trade unions and automation which demands less human involvement, it is palpable that one cannot always do what they desire. There is a boss who assigns tasks, and you cannot ignore them, no matter how gruesome the assignment looks and how tired you feel. It is important to accept it as one of the work components.
Every Work Has Meaning
It is true that some jobs are more valued than others, because they are more prestigious or qualified. However, every work is inherently meaningful. Therefore, it is important to respect people around you, no matter what position you occupy in relation to them or how much money you make.
Martin Luther first advanced this argument in the 16th century. He saw how depraved and immoral the upper classes were, and how humble and hard-working the lower ones could be in comparison. Before him, leisure was deemed a God’s benediction. Luther as one of the first advocates of the Protestant Reformation believed that doing work was basically serving God. He saw work as a way to instill Christian values which were so scarce among the wealthy, but indolent people.
This Protestant ethic permeated the Western society. It became especially pronounced in America, where most Protestants fled from the religious persecution. People started to view work as the greatest virtue. Now they bragged about it, which led to the culture of Workaholism, which remains a huge problem in the modern world.
Nonetheless, without this transition in perception, people wouldn’t have had all those remarkable inventions and progress they have today. Protestant ethic has contributed greatly to the success of Western nations, although it also caused the increased stress and anxiety levels.
Work Should Become a Vocation
This idea would be considered ridiculous just a hundred years ago. Granted, Marx talked about the dehumanization monotonous work produced on Earth. Beginning with Industrialization more and more people were starting to express their concern about the general boredom of the contemporary occupations which left no room for creativity. However, only in the 20th century the idea of a job being a calling or a vocation began to emerge.
Many personality tests were developed to help people choose their profession, the most popular one, of course, being the Myers-Briggs test. It is obvious for every reasonable individual that introverts would be better off in positions requiring more writing and thinking, while extroverts would thrive in social environment. So, it is critical to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses as well as your personality before embarking on a career.
No matter how much money you make, it will not be able to compensate for being stuck in the job you hate 40 hours a week. Modern jobs demand a high degree of commitment, often requiring overtime or business trips. Sooner or later there will be a breakdown, and no money will be able restore your psychological health and well-being afterwards.
No Work Is Permanent
It may not be true for all. However, most people do not adhere to the same position all their lives.
It is important to realize it when you start feeling frustrated or even suicidal because of the current job you hold. There is nothing eternal under the sun, and your life will change as well. You just need to take pains to transform it and look for more opportunities.
It is often hard to decide upon one career track. Most people have miscellaneous talents, and they often feel like they are betraying themselves by focusing upon just one of them while ignoring the others. However, this is a natural course of life predetermined by the way the world works. Today’s world wants you to be the best in one field, as it increases the overall productivity and allows for the best results to be produced. You will need to become a specialist in one sphere while abandoning the others. It is a tough choice, but a necessary one.
However, it does not mean that after picking one career, you cannot change your mind later. It is extraordinary hard to find a job which would fit you perfectly. Therefore, it is okay to make mistakes and explore, even if it takes years or even decades for you to find a career of a lifetime.
Work Demands Self-Reflection
It is essential to know what your heart desires and what you are capable of when deciding upon a career. The paradox of choice is what makes you feel confused, however, after profound meditation and self-reflection it is much easier to see the right path.
You need to clear your head of the desires for prestige, money and social recognition. Those do not matter as much in the long term; they only blur your vision and do not allow you to notice what truly matters. In order to be happy with your life, you need to find a career which will bring you this happiness. However, it is a very personal thing, and you have to understand yourself, before you can make the correct choice.