Preconceived Ideas About Work

I’m in Australia right now, and I’ve had some interesting conversations with people I don’t get the opportunity to chat with often… and the great part about that is I get new views on life, and I can learn from the experiences of others.

In this case I’ve learned how preconceived ideas or notions that we have and live by affect our lives in more ways than we know. For example if I told you that Calgary has the best weather in the world and you never travelled or knew any different then that’s what you would know as a truth. You would never have reason to believe otherwise and would have no desire to travel to warmer places during winter or the like. Simply because it would get any better anyway. With different knowledge, behaviour is different, hence the popularity of all-inclusive holidays to Mexico, Cuba etc.

Now this is an obviously ridiculous example because with technology and information it’s very difficult to convince someone of something like that. However it is very oikely that people get preconceived notions as to what constitues work and whether it can be enjoyable.

I heard the argument that there was no point to working after retirement because that was the point of retirement – to not work. But what exactly is work? We tend to think of work as something we don’t want to do. A mundane nine-to-five job or working for minimum wage. Something to pay the bills so that we can take holidays away from work.

So what is its definition?

work –noun

  1. Exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labor; toil.
  2. Something on which exertion or labor is expended; a task or undertaking: The students finished their work in class.
  3. Productive or operative activity.
  4. Employment, as in some form of industry, esp. as a means of earning one’s livelihood: to look for work.
  5. One’s place of employment: Don’t phone him at work.
  6. Materials, things, etc., on which one is working or is to work.
  7. The result of exertion, labor, or activity; a deed or performance.
  8. A product of exertion, labor, or activity: musical works.

No where in this extensive definition was there a mention of an activity that wasn’t enjoyable. It’s only our personal associations with that word that give it a negative connotation.

chore –noun

  1. A small or odd job; routine task.
  2. Chores, the everyday work around a house or farm.
  3. A hard or unpleasant task: Solving the problem was quite a chore.

It is only in the definition of chore that we have unpleasntness, although it was not the primary meaning.

What’s interesting is that if you speak to someone who loves what they do for a living then they don’t consider it to be unpleasant, although it still constitutes “work”. The unfortunate thing is that most people don’t enjoy their work, so by association, work is negative.

Where this causes a problem is if you are retired from work and still want to do something meaningful with your life. It may be classified as “work” and therefore fall into the unenjoyable category, and that was the point of retiring in the first place. Meaningful work can be for no earned income or can be for income and it doesn’t matter if it only earns a fraction of your previous earnings, so long as it makes you happy.

The fact is that “work” is a four-letter word that has a simple meaning. If that meaning is a negative one and it prevents you from moving toward a life of fulfillment then change the word so that it allows you to think freely on the matter. It’s the same with anything in life.

Maybe these words work better (pardon the pun)

  • Activity
  • Calling
  • Endeavour
  • Profession
  • Pursuit
  • Specialisation
  • Vocation

And with all of these new words, there can be fun, enjoyment and fulfillment included and whether or not they earn money may be irrelevant, it’s about your life choices.

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