According to a study by The National Sleep Foundation (yes, I was suprised we had one) the average American spent a total of 14 hours per day working in 2008. Whether you buy into it or not, we spend a lot of time working. Let’s say an average of 50 hours per week, though I suspect it’s longer. That’s 29% of all your time over a full week and 40% of your time counting only weekdays. Breathe through that for a minute. And don’t think work is just your “day” job – include volunteer efforts, non-profits, going door to door selling Girl Scout cookies with your daughter (was it just me?), and so on. Fourty percent. Four. Zero. Breathe.
So why do we do it? Or more importantly, who do we do it for?
- I work for my company. Really? And who is your company? Companies are made up of people – some of whom care for you and some of whom do not. A company, in my opinion, is little more than a shared culture with a logo, building, and time off for good behavior. When folks say they like thier company, I think they generally mean they like spending time with thier coworkers and putting effort towards a common goal. I like the people I work with very much, I believe in what our group of people bring to the world. But the company itself is a construct. So it’s not accurate to say you “do it for your company.”
- I work for my boss/peers/coworkers. Well, at least know we’re talking about people. As I mentioned above though, some of those people care for you and some of them don’t. I’m sure there are folks that would be shocked if you stopped showing up. They might even shed a tear, keep in touch for a while, and see you for dinner or drinks every now and then. But in the end, when it’s all said and done, it’s unlikely that they will be impacted for any significant amount of time. The bond is real with these folks, but it’s temporary.
- I work for my family. Okay – closer. I truly hope you have a loving and devoted family. I do. And yet I don’t think this is the right answer. Working for your family implies, to me, that you have created a situation where the money or some other tangible benefit from your job is paramount. Not having this benefit, for an extended period of time, would create issues. Since you have that loving and devoted family, you want to avoid issues – and so therefore you are a slave to your work. Breathe again and don’t sweat it too much; at least you’re not alone.
So what’s left? I work for myself. This doesn’t have to mean that you are a one person shop, or that you’re an entrepreneur. It only means that you love, Love, LOVE, what you do. If you find it hard to go to sleep at night because you’re having a blast, and then jump out of bed at the crack of dawn to do it again then congratulations. You’re working for yourself. If working makes your “Top 5″ list, then you’ve got it figured out.
If you’re not working for yourself, regardless of who pays you or if you get paid, why not? What’s stopping you? I hope you can figure it out and move through it.
(Ed. Note: Since this is my first real post, you might be wondering what I’m on about now. See my About page for more information. Thanks!)