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Are you passionate about your work?

Categories: Career Talk, Money, Your life


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?

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4 comments so far...

  • Yes I mostly am, except when I’m burnt out and need a break! I think I’ve been thoroughly engaged in all of my jobs and am that way about any work/task. Otherwise what is the point. I don’t think it’s about finding a job that you love, I think it’s about loving to be fully engaged in whatever you do- it’s all worthwhile to someone!

    Starrlife  |  January 14th, 2009 at 6:28 pm

  • These are great tips. They sound right on. And I think as women we look more at the short-term and men tend to go long-term. Sometimes it can be rather frustrating when my husband and I are having a conversation and he starts talking about 20 years down the road and I’m thinking about RIGHT NOW. We used to get in arguments about that. I would say things like “I don’t CARE about 20 years from now!!”

    Anyway, I think that’s just one of those things that sets us apart from them and makes communication with them a little more difficult.

    Back to your post though…. I like the gas in the car and money analogy. Once again, I think as women we tend to take on the jobs that MEAN something to us. Men tend to do what they need to do to make money. Of course these are blanket statements with nothing to back me up except observations and life experiences.

    Very good post and good advice from Tim O’Reilly!

    Karen  |  January 15th, 2009 at 6:41 am

  • I love my job as a daycare provider. When my own children were young, they grew up with other children who became their friends for life.
    Now they are in school, and I have new generations of little best friends I look after who are 2-4 years old.
    I love taking care of the families I serve and being able to be that momma for other mommas who must work away from home.
    They become my friends and we all become one big family.
    No other job I have ever had brings me that kind of joy!=)

    Snugglesmama  |  January 15th, 2009 at 11:07 am

  • Teachers must be passionate. If I didn’t care about more than the paycheck, the workload, both physical and emotional, would break me. The challenge is keeping up as the workload increases and the wages stay the same.

    Daisy  |  January 15th, 2009 at 2:24 pm