Making Money is Not the Only Purpose of Work - But of Course, it Helps
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition & Job Search Coach | Possibility Thinker | Certified Stress Management and Sleep Science Coach
We were taught growing up that we needed to prepare ourselves for a job that would pay well. After all, we need to buy the necessities of life along with a few extras here and there. It is the traditional "American dream." One of the things that set our country apart from many others is that privilege of birth does not necessarily predict financial success in life. People who grew up in the humblest of homes have grown to be extremely wealthy. They have made financial fortunes through hard work and natural ingenuity.
Somewhere along the way, however, we began to equate financial success with success in life. I would like to suggest that making money is not the only measure of a life well lived.
I happen to be writing this message on Father's Day. My dad died in 1986, so he hasn't been around for a long time. He is a constant presence in my life, though.
By most financial measures, my dad wasn't a great success. But the truth is, he never aspired to accumulate a lot of money. He felt rich as long as he had a $100 bill in his wallet "for emergencies."
My dad grew up on a farm in a small farming community. No one in his family had ever invested in stocks or bonds. Land and the labor of their hands held the key to their individual and collective riches.
My dad's true vocation was in fixing watches and clocks.
It didn't matter if it was a pocket watch, a mantle clock, or a Grandfather clock. If it stopped working, he knew how to fix it. He told me that he knew he loved repairing watches at the age of eight. When he was in the third grade, he traded his prize marble for a broken pocket watch. He took the watch home from school and took it apart and then put it back together. When he got it back together, it was running. From that point on, the pride that he felt in his work came not from his day job. It came from being able to fix any watch or clock of any description.
My dad was in his true element in his little "watch room." He created a small office on the enclosed back porch. He gave it heat for the winter and AC for the summer months. People came to the house from all over the county to have him fix their broken watches and clocks.
He made a little money on the side from the work he did in that watch room, but that wasn't the point of his work there. He was happy there. He got deep satisfaction from being able to prove that he could fix anything anyone put in front of him.
Eventually, he started doing some outsourcing work for a jewelry store in town. Later, a local furniture store contracted him to set up Grandfather clocks in people's homes. He loved every aspect of working on both watches and clocks. He died before everything became battery operated. That's probably how it was meant to work out. I am not sure how he would have entertained himself these days.
The point is that the work that he loved the most didn't support our family financially. I always wondered if he had set up his own shop if he might have been able to make it successful. He was never offered that option. My mom was of the opinion that a "job" entailed trading time for money and benefits that someone else provided.
Her work as a nurse paid her well. But the truth is she hated working outside the home. She had aspired to be a mother and homemaker. In fact, I suspect that Daddy won her over with his proposal when he promised that she would never need to work. She could stay at home and raise their family while he ran the family farm with his parents. That plan suffered a set back when my Grandfather died in a farm accident in 1954. Everything changed after that.
By the time my brother started school, it was clear that my mother needed to go back to work. Truth be told, though, she resented every single day she worked outside the home. She made good money and had great benefits.
But her job did not make her happy.
The point? In spite of not making a lot of money, my dad was happy in his watch room. In spite of making good money, my mother was miserable in her work because that was not how she wanted to be spending her time.
Making money is not the only purpose of work. Finding true satisfaction and a sense of self-worth is also essential.
So, ask yourself. Are you happy with your work? If not, how much longer are you going to put up with not being happy before you do something about it?
I am not suggesting that you can make a drastic change overnight. If only it were that easy! But it is possible for you to have more control over how to make money and live your life than you may have considered until now.
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Life is short. I know that when I decided to make my career change five years ago, I didn't want to continue to trade my time for a paycheck. I wanted something that would feel satisfying and would give me the freedom that I never had as a teacher.