What is “work” really, and which career should you choose?

I was listening to a talk given by Tim Keller called “Work.” He made a lot of great points, but one stuck with me. In the past, people did work for the sake of the work, the work itself was its own reward. In our society, people work so they can have money (or status), in order to do something else, which is really what they want to do.

When I talk to students about career planning, I ask them to imagine a dream scenario. A wealthy businessman has agreed to give you an annual salary of $500,000 per year for the rest of your life. However, you must work 35 hours a week doing some job. You may spend the necessary time getting training or more education if you need to. What job would you pick? Whatever that job is that you just picked, is the career you should pursue.

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One thought on “What is “work” really, and which career should you choose?

  1. Wow! I’m not sure I can agree, Terry. The phrase ”working for the sake of work” sounds like “I’m going to go to work because I’m excited about my job and there’s nothing I would rather do!” I’m sure this is true for many folks and once upon a time, I was one of them! (I got over it.)

    During the westward expansion, people left families and security in hopes of finding something better. When they got there, they found it was hard, but they worked at it, not for the sake of the work, but for the sake of survival. The Little House on the Prarie books talk about that. Remember how Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof sang “if I were a rich man”? People throughout history have wanted something beyond what they have. I don’t believe it’s just a symptom of today’s society. It can be a positive influence if it turns us to reach greater potential. Or it can make us cynical and apathetic toward our contributions.

    The blessing we have today in our society is that we no longer have to be stuck in a job our whole lives like a serf in the middle ages or a blacksmith who is stuck with his lot in life. We can grow in our likes and abilities and even outgrow something that we once loved doing to trade it for something new.

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