Why do I work?
My nephew Cai asked my why I work as part of a homework assignment for school. I asked him if he would send me his finished work afterwards. Here it is.
I have worked a lot of jobs throughout my life. There have been jobs I have worked simply to keep a house over my head and to pay for food and movies and computer games. But I never stayed in a job that I didn’t love for more than a year.
There are a few things that keep me working:
I work because it puts me in an environment where I can spend time with other people, interact, learn from and teach each other at the same time.
I work because it is a way to keep my mind active and to stop from being bored.
And I work to earn enough money to enjoy my life outside work.
So would I work if I didn’t have to?
Absolutely. I might not work as much, and I would definitely take a break if I was suddenly very rich, but I have a job that I love and I would hate to miss out on the other parts of work that aren’t the paycheck.
For example, as a teacher, I:
- Entertain and educate my students (mostly in that order)
- Am constantly learning new things – from the students, from other teachers, and from everywhere else in order to keep up and make my classes interesting.
- Play with robots, make movies, write stories, go on camps, play dungeons and dragons, make computer games and interact with over a hundred people every day. It is exhausting and exhilarating and I can’t imagine life without it.
There is the personal satisfaction you get from doing something well. There is the acknowledgement from others and the feeling of being needed. There is the sense of being part of a community and the sense of giving back to the world and to future generations.
Of course, each of these things can be achieved in other ways, but I don’t know of many that can do ALL of these to such an extent.
I think the best thing to do would be to give me a couple of million dollars and see what happens!
Some other responses:
“I am currently studying so I can enjoy my work more in a new career. I
want to work for more than just money, I think work should be fulfilling and
In my previous job as a teacher I was able to help society and help
support my family through the income but I was no longer finding it
“There are probably three reasons.
- Money – It’s difficult to do things I want to do, travel and look after the people I love without money.
- Need to do something with my brain. I don’t know how I would keep my brain engaged without work. My job is challenging and I like to problem solve. If I had holidays all the time I wouldn’t enjoy them. Getting up and getting going in the morning keeps my mental health good. The sense of achievement I get from work also supports my mental health.
- Is to do with working in education. When working with volunteer organisations I was not getting any money to teach but I believe in what I’m working for. Education is important and everyone should have access to it.
I have a lot to offer. The work I do fits with my personal ethics and values and is fulfilling.“
“Because I need to earn money to survive. If I didn’t work I would get bored
“For the money and to help people, make them feel good and stuff (Cai’s
paraphrasing of the response).“
Cai’s job was to summarise this information and make some conclusions. It was very interesting.
Money was a constant between the five people, though everyone had multiple answers and
reasons to the question. There were some recurring themes as shown in the graph above.
I think it depends on the sort of person they are and whether they enjoy the job they’ve got,
because some of the answers were really showing how much they enjoyed the job and would do
it even if they were not getting paid and that tells us the sort of person they are. Whereas some
answers were just saying they work mainly for the wages and as they enjoy the job they’ve got,
they would probably enjoy another job more if they could.
All the people I asked are very kind, thoughtful and caring, so it was really nice to see how much
they did it for the enjoyment and to help others.