I read something yesterday that I wanted to share with you guys. It’s a post from Tim O’Reilly titled Work on Stuff that Matters. If you find a few free minutes in your day I hope you’ll check it out — it’s worth it, regardless of where you are in your career or whether you’re currently working at all. It was one of those things that I forwarded to tons of my friends and colleagues and I very rarely do that.
In the post, Tim writes about a few personal litmus tests that he uses to see if he is working on stuff that matters:
Work on something that matters to you more than money. What I love about his point here is that he starts off with an understanding that we don’t all come with trust funds and we need to make money to live, support our families, have health insurance, take family vacations. His point is that money shouldn’t be THE ultimate goal for which we’re working. This is my favorite quote from his entire post and it comes in this piece:
Money is like gas in the car — you need to pay attention or you’ll end up on the side of the road — but a well-lived life is not a tour of gas stations!
Create more value than you capture. I think about this a lot, actually, and even in the context of creating Work It, Mom!. A friend asked me why I work so hard on it even though I don’t financially benefit. Because I think (fingers crossed that you agree) that I create value for others by doing it.
Take the long view. I generally suck at this, to be honest. Sure, I make plans and think about where I’d like to be in my career and things I’d like to achieve and experience, but I tend to focus on the short term too much, especially when things are really tough. So I’m taking this bit from Tim to heart:
That’s why a time like this, when the bubble is bursting, is a great time to see how important it is to think about the big picture, and what matters not just to us, but to building a sustainable economy in a sustainable world.
Are you working on stuff that matters? Do you think about your work in this context or is it mostly a means to an end?