The “Do What You Love” movement is problematic, to say the least: it undervalues labor performed by people with less access to education, and subtly shifts the blame for poor working conditions on laborers themselves, instead of employers and legislators. But it is worth it to think about what you’d do, if finances didn’t dictate that you absolutely had to keep your job, no matter what. For one thing, it might illuminate some things about what your future goals should be.
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“I’ve known three people who have won the lottery,” writes Cracked columnist John Cheese. “…In all three cases, the winners chose to continue working.”
Why would anyone do such a thing, Cheese asks, with considerably more wit and swearing? (Seriously. Go read this thing the next time you’re reading the internet on a device that doesn’t have profanity filters enabled or any connection to your employer.) In short, it’s because we get more out of work than just a paycheck.
Like what, you might ask?
1. Social connection.
Cheese points out that it’s hard to make friends after you’re out of school, and work is one place to do it. Even if you don’t fall madly in platonic love with your co-workers, humans need company. Ask any unemployed person or freelancer, and they’ll tell you: when people are alone too much, they start to get weird.
What would you do if you didn’t have to do anything? If you said “nothing,” you’re in good company. But doing nothing at all — or even just doing whatever you want, whenever you want — gets old fast. Having to show up at a certain time and do things because they’re required builds discipline, which makes it easier to do everything else that makes you a healthy, happy person, from eating well to exercising, to keeping a regular sleep schedule.
3. A sense of identity.
Quick: who are you? We bet your job title or at least your field came up in the first five words. You’re not just your job, of course, but what you do becomes a big part of who you are, at least eventually.
Now, if after considering all of that, you realize that you hate everyone you work with, have a daily schedule that’s the opposite of how your brain and body chemistry work, and can’t stand the idea of identifying yourself as Job Title X or Y, then it might be time to rethink your career track.
Not everyone can do what they love, but everyone should at least try to like what they do. If your current job isn’t fitting that need, start making plans to change to something that does.
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If you won the lottery, would you quit your job? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.