Working Is Better And Worse Than You Think

Working is both great and not so great.

No matter the age, working benefits your mind, purpose and finances. However, there may be a time to stop. Only you know why you work, and when not to.

Some Questions To Think About

Does the idea of working until the day you die frighten you? Or does it excite you? Do you wish you could quit working now, or do you hope to continue into your old age?

These are interesting questions, as the act of working is a multifaceted concept.

For many, working is an act necessary to earn enough income to survive in modern society. For others, it’s motivated by the acquisition of things and the improvement of social status.

Still, some use work as a means of producing investment capital to be used when they become too old to work as they did before. Then there are those who find working like an art and something that provides definition, purpose, and meaning.

In this article, I hope to shed some light on what it means to work, how it fits into life, and why you may want to think again about the way you look at work.

The Meaning Of Work

The definition is surprisingly varied.

The meaning of work goes far beyond job employment or the completion of tasks for monetary gain.

At its core, work is a complex interplay of purpose, fulfillment, contribution, and personal growth. Work is not just about physical or mental effort but also about the intrinsic value it adds to your life and society as a whole.

Work provides a platform for us to express talents, skills, and creativity. It serves as a medium through which we can contribute to our communities, organizations, and the world at large. Whether it’s through artistic projects, scientific research, humanitarian efforts, or entrepreneurial ventures, work enables us to make a real impact and leave a lasting legacy.

Furthermore, work plays a large part in shaping personal identity. It also adds to a sense of belonging, providing structure and purpose to daily life, including self-worth.

Working Is Necessary For The World And You

Working brings benefits to the world.

Work is a cornerstone of productivity, growth, and fulfillment for society. 

It plays a vital role in sustaining the economy, furthering innovation, and addressing the needs of communities.

Working provides the means for us to contribute our skills, talents, and efforts toward collective progress and prosperity. Without work, essential services would stop, advancements would stagnate, and the interdependence that underpins modern society would unravel.

Beyond its societal significance, work also holds profound importance for individual well-being and self-actualization. 

Engaging in meaningful work not only offers financial stability but also brings purpose, structure, and a sense of accomplishment.

This allows us to expand our knowledge base and create connections with others. It also provides a platform for creative expression, including a sense of empowerment to shape personal destiny and aspiration.

Work is a part of society’s natural evolution, pushing the progression of human civilization. 

These Are The Personal Benefits Of Working

The first and most obvious are monetary gains.

Financial incentives remain the primary motivator to work. As anyone knows, a regular income provides financial stability to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, and healthcare. It also opens doors to opportunities for economic growth. Investing and saving for the future help with achieving what many refer to as financial independence. 

Stress and anxiety are often the result of bad financial health and management. CNBC released a survey that found 74% of Americans are stressed about money. 

I also published an article about the importance of financial health that you can read here.

Beyond monetary benefits, working allows us to make measurable contributions to society as a whole. 

Whether it’s through providing goods and services, innovating new technologies, or contributing to projects, work brings a sense of purpose and accomplishment. 

There is also a lot to be gained in your personal development from work.

Intellectually stimulating tasks can improve cognitive abilities, sharpen problem-solving skills, and continue lifelong learning.

Physical labor or active job roles contribute to physical fitness, allowing for better health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Additionally, the structure and routine of work can improve time management skills and bring about discipline, leading to greater efficiency and productivity in all areas of life.

Working often leads to personal discoveries as well. 

Facing challenges and overcoming obstacles in the workplace molds resilience and adaptability.

Life can be highly unpredictable. Being in the workplace can lead to many moments that require comprehension and understanding of the situation. Properly addressing a difficulty may reinforce an inner strength and “toughness” that can help with other areas of life.

Lastly, there is the enjoyment that can come from working through fulfillment and satisfaction with the job’s results. This often transcends material rewards.

Psychologically, Working Is Mostly Healthy For You

Generally speaking, working can provide numerous psychological benefits through a sense of purpose and identity. 

Work can provide structure and routine to daily life, which can be particularly beneficial for mental health. Routine offers predictability and stability, which helps to manage stress and anxiety more effectively.

Additionally, often the people we meet at our workplace add to our relationships, which help with belonging and emotional support. Coworkers can also offer encouragement and help with ideas.

There are also feelings of competence and mastery. 

When we can use our skills and expertise to overcome challenges and achieve goals, it can lead to a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This boosts self-confidence and motivation. 

It also can keep the mind sharp.

There Are Negatives To Working

There are negatives to working.

Burnout. 

It’s the most common negative to working. 

Long hours, especially in high-stress environments, can lead to physical and mental exhaustion. Productivity drops and symptoms like chronic fatigue and irritability are among the most common results.

To make matters worse, modern work culture often encourages constant connectivity with current technological trends. While this has its benefits in terms of efficiency and flexibility, it also blurs the boundaries between work and personal life. 

Constantly being tethered to work-related responsibilities can prevent us from fully disconnecting and enjoying our personal time. This inevitably leads to increased stress and decreased satisfaction with life outside of work.

Additionally, many jobs come with inherent pressures to perform and meet ever-changing expectations.

These demands easily contribute to feelings of anxiety and insecurity.

Fear of failure or job loss can create constant stress. Furthermore, some industries or work environments may expose workers to toxic circumstances, such as workplace harassment, discrimination, or unethical practices.

Work-Life Balance And What It Really Means

Work-Life Balance is important to well being.

Work-life balance is something we all strive to achieve in some form or another. 

It’s the harmony between professional responsibilities and personal pursuits, from career aspirations to family time, hobbies, and self-care. While the concept of work-life balance may sound straightforward, in practice, it’s not.

This article posted on Forbes explains the importance of a work-life balance, but how difficult it is to achieve. 

One of its fundamental aspects is understanding the underlying motivations behind why we work. 

People have varying reasons for why they have a job or self-employment. The most common is to achieve financial stability, but for others, it may be to pursue passion projects or climb the corporate ladder. Understanding these motivations determines the emphasis that should be placed on working. 

For example, if the primary goal is to accumulate wealth by a certain age, that person may be inclined to prioritize their career over personal time. However, if the objective is to just cover basic expenses and enjoy a life outside of work, striking a balance is far more important.

Reasons aside, achieving work-life balance isn’t only about dividing time between work and personal life. 

It includes setting boundaries and managing expectations. This means establishing clear working hours, learning to delegate tasks, and developing time management skills to get the most done during those hours. 

Additionally, following self-care practices like regular exercise, meditation, and fun activities like watching a movie, playing video games, and having dinner with friends, can help individuals recharge.

Lastly, part of achieving work-life balance is greatly helped by our work environment.

Companies that support and implement policies such as flexible work hours, telecommuting options, and wellness programs to accommodate those seeking such a life, generally have better productivity and employee satisfaction.

If you take a moment to think about it, work-life balance is like a relationship.

Some people are only friends and seen occasionally, while others, more often. It could be that the other group of friends are more engaging or fun. Then, there are those very few individuals who are deserving of a deep romance. 

What kind of relationship would you like to have with work? 

Know Thy Self

Understanding the person you believe yourself to be, or the kind of person you would like to become, is extremely important when it relates to working. 

We spend approximately 40+ hours a week doing something in exchange for the promise of money.

That’s roughly 25% of the hours over 7 days. That jumps to approximately 35% when calculating waking hours over a week, not including the time spent commuting.

Why do you do it? 

Is it for the money?

Do you feel you have to? 

Do you like what you do?

Knowing the kind of person you presently are or want to be, is a big deal, especially when you consider the amount of time spent each week on the job.

We all carry unique skills, strengths, weaknesses, and values that shape how we approach the world. Ideally, the work we do should align as closely as possible with the kind of person we are or would like to evolve into.

I’d like to note, there is nothing wrong with having a job or a career motivated by money, so long as it’s in the short term. A Psychology Today article explains how money only goes so far in worker motivation. 

The truth is, having a reason, other than money, to do something tends to not only make the work more enjoyable but also more productive and with a greater likelihood for larger success. 

This article in Forbes explains how your vision and aspiration are what actually matter. 

I’m not suggesting money isn’t important. It absolutely is. 

However, it’s more about the use of money rather than just collecting the funds. 

Unless you’ve already done this, looking at where you may be today, working as you are, and being genuinely honest with why you’re there…liberates you. 

Let’s say you’re working a job because it pays for your basic necessities. Good. Now you remember why you’re at the job you are and can start searching for something you believe you’ll enjoy more.

You can start saving with a goal in mind.

Perhaps you’re at a job that started great, now turned terrible. You could feel comfortable enough because you are very capable at the work. Good. Understanding what this job has become reveals why you are there. Do you want to stay? Is the money worth it?

If it is, then it may be time to focus on bettering your time outside of work to balance the unhappiness on the job.

Know yourself, and what you want.

You don’t have to like your job or the work you do, but grasping the reason why you’re doing it opens you to something better.

For Those Over 40, Experience Is Your Friend

Those over 40 have the advantage of experience and age.

I’ve written about this previously.

If you’re over 40, you generally have far more wisdom and knowledge than someone in their mid-20s.

However, with the onset of age, the body changes, the mind matures and exciting things are aren’t so much any more. It’s not uncommon to be less motivated to make changes. Of course, if you’re happy, then by all means, keep doing what you have.

For those who feel like they’ve fallen into work they no longer like, or has changed less favorably, knowing yourself and where you would like to be is even more important.

Time is less available than it was for us over 40.

The good news is that making those changes tends to be easier, as your business relationships are wider, wisdom is more applicable and a developed working ethic is valuable.

Should you decide to alter your current path, committing to adjust where you are, those changes tend to happen more quickly because of age.

The biggest challenge I’ve come across is in the mind and body. 

An unhealthy body and fatigued mind make it exceedingly difficult to do anything other than the minimum, let alone be willing. 

If you’re unhappy with your job and, quite frankly, are worried about working into your retirement years (unless you want to, of course), make getting healthy a priority. Consider adopting a good, low-carb, high-protein diet and exercise every day (it can be walking, bike riding, swimming, or yoga for as little as 20 minutes).

If your home is a mess, consider decluttering. It’s amazing what it can do. If you want to improve the household, think about adopting some Feng Shui principles. 

Once you’ve gotten healthy and improved the homestead, evaluate your working income. Perhaps if you didn’t like your job before, a new perspective might dawn on you. 

Here’s a personal example I’m currently living through. 

The job I worked 40+ hours a week started phenomenally. I very much enjoyed it and looked forward to a long career. Unfortunately, the company chose to make some decisions that I do not agree with. As such, the working environment has turned sour and greatly altered the way I feel about it. 

Because of what transpired, I started working more on this website, including other projects of interest. My focus is more outside of my job.

I no longer work 60 hours a week and instead keep a steady 40.

My income dropped, but not so much that it adversely affected my life.

Instead the job has turned into a financing vehicle for this site, and a means to invest capital into retirement accounts I’m managing.

The disappointing direction in my work career has evolved into a purposeful financial stream that funds projects I’m excited about. This brought back an appreciation for the 40-hour job, and a healthier balance for me personally. 

Working Through Retirement, Or Not

Work through retirement, or not. Either one is ok.

In the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, a study found that retirees who continued to work at least part-time reported better health and fewer major diseases, including better financial stability than those who fully retired. 

Conversely, research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies suggests that retirees who engage in leisure activities are happier and with lower levels of stress compared to those who continue to work.

In other words, if you’re looking for evidence to support working or not through your retirement years, the answer is…yes. 

Working through your retirement years can be great, JUST AS MUCH as not working can be.

Is one more right than the other? 

Very much so, and it’s again reliant on what you want.

As you can see, studies and data support the benefits of whichever path you end up choosing or finding yourself on. Whether or not retirement is enjoyable and satisfying is largely reliant on being as true to yourself as possible. 

For some, such as myself, I would like to keep “working” through retirement, though I do not intend to work out of financial need.

Instead, I am (currently) desiring to “work” by being productive, challenging myself, and finding new personal discoveries. I write the word “work” as I do because I intend to be doing something I have fun with far more often than not. I don’t so much consider that “work” per se. It may be a business (and I do like that), or it could be learning a new skill and mastering it, moving on to the next project. 

How do you see yourself when you retire? 

There’s no more right or wrong answer. If you’d rather sit down and watch hours of movies and TV shows you’ve always want to, there’s nothing bad about that. If you’d prefer to have a job and earn an income, there’s also nothing bad about that.

Knowing yourself and what you enjoy, or would like to, guides you to the path that will most satisfy it. 

Expanding on watching movies and TV through retirement, consider this perspective.

It’s a form of work. 

I realize that sounds odd, as film entertainment tends to be more of a leisure category, but if you ponder it, finding, storing, or obtaining movies and TV broadcasts requires effort. That kind of exertion may necessitate planning, securing the proper viewing environment, scheduling time to sit through the story, and, of course, inviting people to join you.

The process of getting to watching the ideal film project is a form of work.

It can stimulate the mind, spark creativity, and encourage physical activity to arrange the experience (seating, food, lighting, etc).

Whether you choose to work a job, be self-employed, or pursue a hobby, do something that offers some kind of growth into your retirement. It will add so much to those years.

Until the next time, cheers.

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