I hope you all had a positive week! This week’s post is going to break down the difference between a job and work and why it is important to distinguish the two. You may have some idea what the two things are, but through some of the reading I have been doing, I have found that it is these core concepts are not as simple as it seems and hope the below will provide some juicy food for thought.
We all know what a job is or do you? Let me break it down –
A job is that it is a way to earn income in exchange for your time and mind/labour – nothing more.
Do you agree? Or does a job mean something more to you?
Let’s test this – how do you normally introduce yourself to someone you have just met? “Hi I am Georgina, I’m an accountant at company X.” This is a big giveaway – please do not confuse a job with who you are. It is also probably not the most interesting thing about you! There are some lucky individuals out there where your job is your passion and it is the essence of your being, but for most of us, a job is just a way to pay the bills. A job is not proof that you are a functioning member of society because you do not owe the economy anything and most importantly a job is not the only way to earn an income.
It is possible to associate your job as your passion, a calling, or a profession, but remember, this is not the true definition of a job. Are you passionate about your job? If not, what does a job provide you aside from income?
- Security – Is any job truly secure now? Some companies may have healthier financials than others or are too big to fail, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have job security, so you need to prepare for the worst-case scenario. The increasing trend of robotics and AI means that jobs are becoming even less secure. Working with others also means there is inevitably office politics. I know of managers who have been “pushed out” of the team because of poor working relationships.
- Intellectual Stimulation – This is probably true for most of you, however, let’s get back down to the basic, that isn’t a definition of a job. Surely, there are other ways in this modern age to have intellectual stimulation other than just having a job?
- Appreciation – pride in what we do is important for our esteem needs, but you must remember that the “little gold star” you receive from your colleagues or manager is not going to pay the bills!
The list can go on but you can tell where I am going with this. From my experience, the different jobs that I have had in my relatively short career have given me similar levels of stress. I have stayed in the finance industry and have learnt a lot along the way, but the main difference between them was how much I was compensated for my stress.
Most of my jobs have gone like this, I have followed my passion or something I care about and luckily found a job that was tentatively linked to my passion. It always starts off great – I am super excited and ready to go. Like everyone when starting a new job, I approached it with enthusiasm and was eager to learn; it is an awesome feeling when I am learning and believe in the company’s vision – this is true passion. However, I have also realised that this feeling diminishes over time. There have been times when I started to lose belief in the company’s vision and purpose or felt that I wanted to learn something different. The ultimate result has been that my passion turned to stress caused by a job I no longer enjoy and I failed to realise it was time to plan my exit.
Critically, I failed to understand that I was using my time and mind to contribute to someone else’s dream rather than gather the resources and make time to build my own. If you do not love what you are doing and if you cannot objectively say it pays you BATMAN MONEY or you are learning skills so that you can move on to make BATMAN MONEY then you must promise yourself to leave.
A job exchanges your time (which you can never get back) for income. Therefore, with all else being equal, you need to give your time to the highest bidder, especially if a job is going to be your main source of income. The level of income is subjective and it is for you to determine what you think is a reasonable exchange. This is your price and no one can tell you what it is but as mentioned in my previous post start with the dream and work back from there to have an idea of what is your price for your time.
Everyone starts at the bottom but you need to keep assessing when you can level up once you have gained the right experience and knowledge. You need to remember your worth at all times. You need to assess whether your job is investing in you and your future to build the life you want. I know of many friends/past managers who have done the ridiculous hours at investment banks where they have made the BATMAN MONEY early on in their career to go on and set up their own businesses or work in more purposeful roles, where pay may not very high but they truly believed in the vision of a company.
Before we move on to talk about work I want to use this time to say that we need to stop glorifying and glamourising busyness. JUST STOP. Yes – the people leaving the office late at night and broadcasting this all over their social media. I am ashamed to say that I have done this before, and I know why you do it – either you are bragging (ooo look at me and my busy job) or you want sympathy (ooo look at me, don’t you feel sorry for me) but either way this should not be accepted.
First things first – the most important precious resource that belongs to you is your mind and time. You have to protect it with all you can and make sure you are not using your time to prop up someone else’s dream.
Don’t believe the lies told about the importance of a job. It does not make you important. You don’t need a job to contribute to society and it is absolutely not the ticket to having everything you need.
Work is often confused with a job. A lot of people believe that work is a way to earn income, that is not necessarily true, as we explored previously, that is called a job. In the video below, Andy Swann interviewed people to ask what they think work is and one of the best responses (video time 1:08) was –
Work should be something fulfilling, meaningful and, gainful way of spending your time.
Work should be us trying to contribute to others. We should work to develop our talents and we should work to add to our knowledge. What we must remember if you do not earn income from work, it does not mean it should be any less valued.
Work = intrinsic value.
We need to re-educate and redefine what work means. Humans are intrinsically motivated, we enjoy being productive and feeling useful. There are times when I tidy up the house and it feels like such an achievement and source of pride. Work taps into our esteem needs. Waking up at 6AM in the morning so that I can write this blog post before I start my day job is work but it is fulfilling – I feel a lot of value from it. The ability to work on what you want to work on is liberating – it is freedom.
If you know your values and understand your purpose, you will naturally work towards it. You want to put effort and energy into it. This is what “deep work” and “flow” means. If work is linked to our intrinsic value then it becomes easy to concentrate and experience deep enjoyment from whatever work we do.
I hope this post helped to clarify the differences between a job and work. In our modern society, most of us need to have a job but if you remember that a job is where income is exchanged for your time and mind, you can assess whether that job doing what you need it to do. If not, plan your exit.
You may be the lucky few where you love the work and get paid for it! I support anyone to try and combine the two but in most cases. I have found that once I make something I love into a job, I always end up not loving it as much anymore!
For those that have not found a job where it aligns to your passion and purpose, find job opportunities that maximise income for your time and mind. Give yourself the wealth and freedom to then spend time working on your passion and purpose.
With Sweet & Sour Love,