Why do we do what we do?

Why do we do what we do? Wake up at unearthly hours of the morning, iron our ‘corporate standard issue’ clothing, gulp down a pot of oats half cooked to keep the excitement alive and grudgingly traipse off to job that does not make us happy. Is it only the promise of a fat paycheck that keeps us going? And are you using that very logic to stop yourself from looking elsewhere. To discovering a whole new world, where what you do keeps you happy and more importantly, matters. In ‘Why we work’, a book written by Barry Schwartz, he aims to find out exactly that and comes to the conclusion that people who find their jobs fulfilling, don’t really consider money as a key factor. That’s what it must be then, to find a job that matters!

So now that we’ve reached a certain assumption, and quite deftly at that. How do we determine if our current path is the one we want to be on? Before we answer that one, we need to understand why we settle for less than perfect.

There are three explanations to this – One being the most common, we feel that joining a certain organization is the smart thing to do, because it looks good on paper. But when the mundane kicks in, or Mondays (whichever comes first), you find yourself listless and restless, craving for a feeling.  Two, we often believe that there are only a handful of jobs that permit people to find meaning or autonomy and opportunities to learn and grow. So apart from doctors, teachers, CEOs, salt of the earth kind of folks, the people who fall out of this category just do their work for the paycheck. That’s a dismal thought but unfortunately a very common one. And finally, number three, we understand that that pretty much every job has the potential to offer people satisfying work. What stands in the way however is the incredible efficiency associated with routinized (read, unsatisfying), assembly-line type work. Unsatisfying work is just the price people pay for a society that thrives on mass production.

The conclusion – satisfying work is not for everybody, or unsatisfying work is the price we pay for material prosperity. Though highly plausible, both are completely wrong notions, and I’ll tell you why.

If you are of the thought that finding meaning and purpose in what you do only works if you’re saving lives, you must realize that all you need to do is contribute to making people’s lives better. And just to sweeten the deal, finding an organization that is ethical as well as successful is nowadays more commonplace than ever. There is a new crop of consumers, influencers and entrepreneurs with a repertoire of revolutionary ideas, that have come of age. Armed with the belief that anything is possible and that ANYONE can make a difference is what sets this generation apart. They fundamentally know that there are better, more ethical manners to do business, and because they are so conscious of this fact, they make ensure that their business models have ‘social responsibility’ infused into their DNA, as forethought, not an afterthought.

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