Your job ≠ Your purpose

I was listening to a podcast where these two hard-working and successful entrepreneurs talked about the meaning of their jobs and how they love what they do, only to start whining how they don’t have enough time to do anything else; how they’re tired and waiting for retirement.

I can’t get my head around the idea of not having enough time to sleep well, eat healthy, exercise regularly or have time for your family but still insist to love the work you do. Is it love if it’s slowly wearing you down? If in the long run it’s bad for both your body and mind?

Stephen Hawking has said that one of his advices to his children was “Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it”. And it might be the worst advice I’ve heard in a while. 

Another one was in a mirror at the gym I go to: “Be the best version yourself every day.”

We’re expected to evolve constantly in a fast phase environment while not sleeping enough as the new God of Work takes all of our time and justifies itself by being the ultimate purpose of our lives. And all we get is a constant need of a holiday.

A view to Moruya River

The idea of work as something meaningful – as a purpose – is relatively new and never before has it been this huge part of one’s identity. But the funny thing in our society is that everything seems like it has been the same way forever.

The concept of marriage was established over 4000 years ago, but the idea of romantic marriage is from the 18th century. Until the same era the main reason to make children was workforce and the continuation of family name.

So, building a life around work, marriage and children as the true purpose of a human being has been an evolution of around 300 years, meanwhile homo sapiens has been around for 300 000 years.

Old paifan in Vietnam

When I was seventeen I asked for a few days off because I had an avocation I wanted to attend. My supervisor laughed in my face and told me that one day I would understand how life works and that people don’t get day offs for such stupid reasons.

I still don’t get it. 

I still ask for day offs to do things that are important to me and I’d rather resign than miss a good friend’s wedding. And I’m not kidding or just trying to be dramatic; I’m living a life that’s true to my values. My purpose is not to be useful good little working machine to keep the wheels turning. 

And as scary as it might sound, I don’t think we have a purpose here.

There can be important and meaningful things in life, but there’s no greater purpose for us than just to live for the beauty of life and you can’t do that if you’re busy hustling around 24/7.


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