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Why work?

Why work?

Many say they work because they need the money to support themselves (“make a living”). Of course this explanation is greatly exaggerated. Most working people in the developed world earn far more than they need to eat, be healthy and have a place to sleep. Most people, however, also want a TV, phone(s), car(s), computer(s), extra bedrooms, trips, and so on. They work because they see paying as the only means of getting the things they want. Many, therefore, simply consider work a necessary evil, which they would avoid if they could. Thus work is often pursued with the paycheck in mind. Students pick their vocation and job by maximizing their potential paycheck subject to their innately restricted talents. They want to make as much as they possibly can and some can not wrap their heads around why anyone would not prioritize like that.

However, there is another reason to work. There are things that need to be done. I am not talking about developing javascripts that enhance the shopping experience of customers of company A over customers of company B, nor am I talking about playing pro-baseball, building the biggest LCD screen, suing McDonalds for spilling coffee in my lap, or sending memos to the minions. I’m talking about dentists, doctors, soldiers, firefighters, policemen, … jobs where things would go really bad if someone didn’t do them. Jobs that are in some sense a moral duty, at least to some people. Jobs that if neglected would cause misery.

Now everybody can make their own list of which jobs are important. I’m sure someone out there things one-click shopping is a matter of life or death or at least $3.99 in shipping and handling, which is about what a life is worth these days … at least if it’s someone else’s life, but I digress.

This is why I still work. My (former) day job iswas not important by those measures, but it could (have) lead to a job that is, and that is why I still do itbut it didn’t so I quit. It is a means rather than an end. I would say that the social impact of this blog has some measurable significance (probably more than my day job (hadhas)). The startup work is probably the most important of all. The freelance job, which I keep for diversification, less than my day job, but it’s something that gives me great amounts of freedom in terms of how I work.

As you can see I am pursuing different angles in order to spend my time doing important stuff (rather than retiring traditionally). Financial independence gives me significantly more freedom in doing so. In some cases, though, it is easier to do good things through “regular channels” such as being an employee. Strangely, few companies are looking for people that are willing to get involved or work for free or a token amount (like $1/year). Maybe there aren’t so many of us, but there are some, and if you want to “hire” one and your mission is important (or interesting to me), feel free to get in touch with me

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Originally posted 2009-02-17 11:37:25.

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