Why do so many millionaires continue to build their fortunes when there’s really no need? Why do lottery winners say things like, “Well, it won’t change me, I’ll still working part-time”?
I would argue that the real quest is for financial freedom but the real reason to achieve that is to be able to choose what you work on! Bill Gates is a great example of this. I don’t imagine he works any fewer hours now than he did when he was creating Microsoft. Building an exceptional company like Microsoft would make any mum proud, but it pales in comparison when his new work is striving to eradicate malaria.
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, talked about automating and delegating the running of a business to others in order that you could live the dream of world travel and work only four hours a week. In interviews, though, Ferriss also talks about how he’s “always busy doing stuff” and only categorises as work those activities that he actively dislikes. I bet Tim Ferriss works about 14 hours a day. And loves what he does.
What we choose to label as ‘work’ may have a wider definition than simply what we do between 9 and 5. Whether we choose to call it work or something else, we derive pleasure and value from achievement and participation in all sorts of things:
> organizing an outing for our friends
> volunteering in a local hospice
> getting involved in our child’s school committee
> helping a friend or relative move house
> painting the fence in the garden
> having friends over for dinner
> running a fun-run
… the list is endless.
In all of these cases, our sense of self is enhanced by our ability to make things happen.
Work is highly personal and central to our sense of self. No wonder that even small changes to the psychological contract with our employer can leave us feeling anxious, bruised, angry, threatened or fearful. If we feel under attack or feel that we’re playing a game where the stakes are high and our performance will be analyzed, it’s pretty natural that our adrenaline kicks in which, if not managed, can lead to stress.
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