Just over two years ago, I went through a mid-life crisis.
I had mine a few decades earlier than most people have them, quitting my job to travel around Europe. For the first year or so that I was on the other side of the world, I didn’t work at all, despite the proliferation of the remote working revolution.
I was living frugally, off of my savings accumulated from my old job, while I contemplated some of the ideas that were rolling around my head for how to start my first business.
Despite it being completely unrealistic, I entertained the fantasy that I was done with work forever. That I would spend the rest of my life hitch-hiking from place to place and volunteering on collective farms, or living with other enlightened former-workaholics from around the world.
I also told the rest of the world how I felt, encouraging other people to give up everything they had in exchange for the nomadic lifestyle.
It took me about a year to realize how stubbornly myopic this idea was.
There are people who work normal jobs and take two or three weeks of vacation every year and couldn’t be happier with their lives.
The truth is that many people are looking for settled, routine lifestyles and are more than content to stay within the cozy confines they’ve build for themselves. More power to them—not everyone needs to quit their job and travel to find happiness. But, there are also people who have awesome remote jobs and DO travel the world while working throughout their journeys.
But, there’s a considerable amount of evidence that for every person who is happy with their job, there are many more who are dissatisfied or feel a general lack of fulfillment from what they do.
The fact that we spend the predominant amount of our waking lives at work means that what we do for a living should be, ideally, one of the most meaningful activities we undertake. Yet the ideal, often falls short of what it should be.
If you’ve been having doubts lately about your job, let me spell it out clearly for you: Everything you know about work is wrong.
When Henry Ford invented the modern assembly line, there was much talk about how the future of labor was dependent upon mechanization. During the 1960’s, the Jetsons TV show was a manifestation of the hopes we had, that artificial intelligence would take care of everything from tedious chores to getting us to where we need to go, freeing up the human mind to focus on loftier pursuits.
But that hasn’t happened.
Average wages for most workers outside of upper-tier executives have stagnated. People work longer hours than ever. A staggering number of Americans don’t take all their allotted vacation time.
What’s going on here?
In some ways, it’s easier to keep a job that you’re not satisfied with, than quit and risk ending up with nothing.
However, I’d argue that it’s more depressing to think the fact that you’re wasting a huge portion of the one life you have… doing something that you’re not completely in love with.
Charles Bukowski, a brilliant writer who shared many kernels of truth throughout his life, said it best: “Find what you love and let it kill you.”
Check out this brilliant exposition by Mark Manson, inspired by the words of Bukowski, right here.
As a nation, we pride ourselves on pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. By persevering in the face of impossible odds. We have practically fetishized the struggle that precedes the triumphant rise to greatness.
And yes, “no pain, no gain,” is an admirable slogan to live by. But, for what purpose is that pain?
Are you inflicting 40+ hours a week on yourself at a job you don’t love, just so you can afford to buy a house one day? So that your kids, if you decide to have them, can put themselves through the same terrible cycle?
Ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Are you settling for a job just because you don’t have a strong desire to do anything in particular?
If you don’t have an answer to that question, then it’s time to look for something that fills you with purpose, that challenges you to think creatively, something that puts you on a collision course with other great minds and personalities. It’s the only way you’ll rise to greatness in life.
Now more than ever, thanks to crowdfunding, co-working spaces, social networks, startup-friendly loan enterprises, and the wide acceptance of freelancing, it is possible to create work that is fulfilling and challenging beyond anything previous generations of young people in the workplace could have ever dreamt of.
Work to live, and if you can’t find a job that will give you the right balance, make one for yourself.
You won’t regret it.
Join How to Make Money and Grow a Business with Ramit Sethi today, and get his game plan to building a business based on your passions.