Author Topic: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?  (Read 12969 times)

Igelfreundin

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Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« on: March 27, 2015, 10:53:57 AM »
I read the blog "Becoming Minimalist" by Joshua Becker. Recently he wrote that if you wouldn't do your job without money, you shouldn't do it for money. There are plenty of reasonable caveats about working not always being fun, and that this is a position of privilege. But still, it seems rather extreme to me. What do others think?
http://www.becomingminimalist.com/for-work/

For the record, I do a job that contributes to improving the world, but I don't enjoy my job. By his standards, I shouldn't be doing it.

queenie

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2015, 11:07:44 AM »
Wow.  That's a really privileged mentality.

I can't think of a single job I've had in the past that I would have just done for pleasure.  I didn't hate all of my jobs ... but I wouldn't have been rolling out of a warm bed in the dead of winter just to answer roadside assistance calls just to get the warm and fuzzies. 

I can get on board with the idea that you shouldn't do a job that made you miserable, though.  I've only had one job like that and I quit it as soon as I found another job - even though it was a pay cut and an hour-per-week cut.

neo von retorch

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2015, 11:13:26 AM »
I'm curious what opinions (and/or research/science) arrives in this discussion.

Sometimes I think "wait, where did these rules come from?" Everything we do evolved from the way our bodies and minds react to our environment and the decisions we make within it. Before "jobs" existed, there was only "make sure you find food and shelter, make babies, and keep them alive." Do you think our ancient evolutionary ancestors had an advantage if they happened to enjoy picking berries, fishing, throwing spears and building huts? That's probably a good possibility! But now, we have a system of trade/currency where we have very different "needs" that need fulfilled. Someone needs to go around and pick up the 96 gallon bags of plastic/paper/leftover food garbage we generate, and someone else has to drive us around in big cars from important social, sorry business meeting to meeting, and someone else has to stare at an electronic screen, read some things, and then push their fingers down in an intricate pattern on the block of plastic before them. These are really weird things when compared to our evolutionary roots. Should we enjoy them? Should the weird things that need to be done be jobs at all if no one likes to do them?

Some jobs lend themselves to a positive feedback loop, learning, growing, becoming more skilled and proficient, gaining relationships and so on. What if your job doesn't? Should that job be removed? If it's so algorithmic that eventually a robot could take over, should that job just go away so you can do something that engages your body and mind and gets you into the flow?

Midwest

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2015, 11:16:57 AM »
I read the blog "Becoming Minimalist" by Joshua Becker. Recently he wrote that if you wouldn't do your job without money, you shouldn't do it for money. There are plenty of reasonable caveats about working not always being fun, and that this is a position of privilege. But still, it seems rather extreme to me. What do others think?
http://www.becomingminimalist.com/for-work/

For the record, I do a job that contributes to improving the world, but I don't enjoy my job. By his standards, I shouldn't be doing it.

I think it can be read that way or that you should reevaluate why you don't enjoy your job (see his # 5 point).

I read the comments section, however, and several appeared to have missed point #5.

Personally, my job isn't the most exciting but it pays well, provides for my family and allows me a comfortable life.  Compare that to the position of many in the world and what am I complaining about?  That's how I try and look at things.

Good luck finding a way to enjoy your job.


arebelspy

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2015, 11:20:44 AM »
I wouldn't do a job I hate for money, but there are plenty of jobs I'd do for money that I wouldn't do for free.
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Louisville

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2015, 11:25:58 AM »
I read the blog "Becoming Minimalist" by Joshua Becker. Recently he wrote that if you wouldn't do your job without money, you shouldn't do it for money. There are plenty of reasonable caveats about working not always being fun, and that this is a position of privilege. But still, it seems rather extreme to me. What do others think?
http://www.becomingminimalist.com/for-work/

For the record, I do a job that contributes to improving the world, but I don't enjoy my job. By his standards, I shouldn't be doing it.

I think it can be read that way or that you should reevaluate why you don't enjoy your job (see his # 5 point).

I read the comments section, however, and several appeared to have missed point #5.

Personally, my job isn't the most exciting but it pays well, provides for my family and allows me a comfortable life.  Compare that to the position of many in the world and what am I complaining about?  That's how I try and look at things.

Good luck finding a way to enjoy your job.
I understand point #5. And I can apply it to my job.  The computer programming work I do allows my organization to deliver healthcare more efficiently. I care about that. But I don't care enough about it to make me like my job. Sitting at a desk indoors all day is a bit of a nightmare. So, I grit my teeth and look forward to the paycheck and (eventual) FI.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2015, 12:11:37 PM by Louisville »

Eric

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2015, 12:19:12 PM »
It's a good article.  I can't really relate, but it's interesting to read about.  People who enjoy their work this much is something I can never wrap my brain around.  They might as well be aliens from another planet.  I'm aware that they exist, but I just have never been able to grasp it.

purplepants

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2015, 12:41:21 PM »
I mean, that's a nice thought.  But I have a mortgage to pay and a retirement to fund.

I would reframe it to say "You shouldn't settle and accept you will spend your whole life at a job if you wouldn't do it for free."


Midwest

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2015, 12:48:32 PM »
I mean, that's a nice thought.  But I have a mortgage to pay and a retirement to fund.

I would reframe it to say "You shouldn't settle and accept you will spend your whole life at a job if you wouldn't do it for free."

Reading the comments to article, you should probably add "or a student loan to repay." 

My job is a means to an end and I appreciate it.  Try and help people while I'm at it.  It does irk me when the unfullfilled crowd bails on their responsibilities because the don't enjoy what they are doing.

Lis

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2015, 12:49:27 PM »
I honestly can't think of any 'job' I would do for free. I currently like my corporate job, but I suppose one of the reasons I like it is because it pays very well (both in salary and benefits).

One of my goals is to eventually quit the corporate world and start a chocolate business. But part of that goal is to start a successful business, meaning making money. For the time being I enjoy making chocolates, but even now I'm getting paid for them. If I wasn't I'd stop after I experimented and maybe break out a recipe for a special occasion.

mm1970

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2015, 12:55:18 PM »
I think this is an interesting philosophy, and it’s great if you can make a living at that. But I also think it can cause a great deal of stress if you *can’t*.

Personally, as a Gen-Xer, I think the idea that you should have a “calling”, or work that fulfills you so much that you’d do it for free, is what has screwed people up so much.

When my father was growing up, a job was a means to an end. Sure, it was great if you enjoyed it or were good at it. But the fact of the matter was – you worked to make a paycheck and support your family. Your reason for being was your family.

Along the way, when I was in college in the 80’s and 90’s, suddenly our work “defined” us and we had to feel fulfilled by it. Well, if you *aren’t*, then that causes an extreme amount of dissatisfaction and stress!

I enjoy what I do, but it comes with enough BS and politics that I would NEVER do it for free. My time is more valuable than that. But on the flip side, I do a LOT of free stuff for the school PTA (and frankly, I HATE IT but I do it for the good of the students).

RunHappy

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2015, 12:56:40 PM »
Doing a job for free is called volunteering.  It's a lovely thought, but unrealistic.

I've never had a job I would have done for free, but that in no way implies that I hated any of my past (or current) job.  Some jobs I have really loved, but would not have done them for free.

arebelspy

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2015, 12:58:57 PM »
Doing a job for free is called volunteering.

Yes, that's his point.  If you wouldn't volunteer at that job, you shouldn't do it for money.

I disagree.

But if someone wants to run their life that way, more power to them.
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Kaspian

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2015, 01:02:30 PM »
Ummm...  Isn't the very reason people employ others to do things which aren't 100% enjoyable to do?  Isn't that the whole concept of people paying you?  There's an understanding that you'd spend your time in other pursuits if money wasn't involved?  ...Like nobody pays you to go on a ferris wheel.  Nobody pays you to go to the Caribbean and lay on a beach.  Nobody pays you to watch a marathon of "House of Cards".  I understand there are a few exceptions--like pro-Athletes and rock stars who enjoy being on stage.  But for all we know, players could hate being traded and end up on a team and have to live in Detroit (even though they love the game).  ...Or somebody like Lady Gaga might really not want to play a gig in Uzbekistan but does it anyway 'cause she gets paid and it's her job.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2015, 01:26:38 PM »
There are plenty of people that practially make a full time job out of volunteering because they like the sense of purpose. Some of those people eventually get paid.  From the other angle, some people are able to take a paying job and pare away the tasks they do not like over time.  I imagine these types of employees probably have flexible scheduling, so they don't have to pass up other oportunities, get rich social interaction at work, and are generally respected for their knowledge or expertise. Some of these type postitions are also reserved as rewards for those with long tenures.

 The quote, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life", has been floating around for quite some time.  The problem is, as humans, we tend to enjoy similar things.  And because we enjoy a certain activity we require no additional incentive to do it (ie, money).  If we enjoy activity enough, we will even pay to do "work" (Dude Ranches?).  I would say that unless you are an outlier and enjoy something that the general population does not, say physics, or advanced mathmatics, the likelyhood of finding a competitive early to mid-career job you would do for free is probably low and could lead you on a very long and unfruitful search. 

neo von retorch

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2015, 01:37:29 PM »
Coincidence. There are a few MMM articles I haven't read, so I started at the beginning. Today I got to this one:

Why I Really retired from Corporate Work

He wraps it up with this:

Quote
My self-employment gig, on the other hand, is worth doing regardless of monetary factors. That’s the kind of work that builds up energy rather than subtracting it, and sucks away abdominal fat and health problems rather than creating them. So I don’t plan to ever quit that one.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2015, 01:44:09 PM »
First a distinction:

Hate versus some degree of tolerable.

I would not work for long at a job I hated.  I would find something more tolerable.  An example of this would be picking up dog doo or disposing of animals that get hit by cars.

I have never had a job that I would do for free, so the question is irrelevant to me.

Watching documentaries such as "Mountain Man" where folks "live off the land" remind me that the imperfections of a job and outsourcing food gathering is way easier than living off of the land.

A job I would "love":  Ski patrol.  Sorry, can't live on $10 per hour!

Philociraptor

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2015, 01:45:44 PM »
I feel like this concept only works with FI or monetizing your passion. If you're FI you can pick and choose exactly what you want to do without worrying about the money. If you can monetize your "passion", money comes from doing something you already enjoy. Other than those two, I don't see it working.

WhoopWhoop

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2015, 01:49:48 PM »
I like the article. He's just saying his IDEAL is to increase the amount of intrinsic motivation in his life in order to make his life more meaningful.

There are years and years of human history of very smart people who choose to use their big-ass brains to do something truly beneficial for mankind instead of accepting the boring job that could pad their (or their childrens') pockets. Those smart people certainly appear a lot in history books and made their mark on human thought and progress.

Let's see here:
  • Buddha - dedicated life to being poor and solving man's deepest spiritual issues. Gave up chance of living the rich life of a king
  • Martin Luther - his dad wanted him to be a rich lawyer, but he was drawn to theology because he thought spiritual issues were more important
  • Yo mamma

Of course, plenty of historical figures did the exact opposite.

My point is: knock it off. Stop stroking each others' "let's be realistic" boners. It's not unrealistic. Plenty of people have done it.

CommonCents

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2015, 02:05:00 PM »
I think this is an interesting philosophy, and it’s great if you can make a living at that. But I also think it can cause a great deal of stress if you *can’t*.

Personally, as a Gen-Xer, I think the idea that you should have a “calling”, or work that fulfills you so much that you’d do it for free, is what has screwed people up so much.

When my father was growing up, a job was a means to an end. Sure, it was great if you enjoyed it or were good at it. But the fact of the matter was – you worked to make a paycheck and support your family. Your reason for being was your family.

Along the way, when I was in college in the 80’s and 90’s, suddenly our work “defined” us and we had to feel fulfilled by it. Well, if you *aren’t*, then that causes an extreme amount of dissatisfaction and stress!

I enjoy what I do, but it comes with enough BS and politics that I would NEVER do it for free. My time is more valuable than that. But on the flip side, I do a LOT of free stuff for the school PTA (and frankly, I HATE IT but I do it for the good of the students).

+1

Mr. Green

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2015, 02:08:00 PM »
It's worth noting that there are probably a number of activities you enjoy "while they're free" but if you had to do these activities for money you may find yourself no longer enjoying them. Sex might be one example if you were a prostitute.

galliver

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2015, 02:55:34 PM »
I have worked as a tutor for free (well, volunteer hours), and babysat for free (no volunteer hours). I would have worked as a camp counselor for free...wait actually I did but it was only for a week. I got paid for it as a summer job; I probably wouldn't have done it free at that time, but I would have in other circumstances; i.e. if I didn't need a subsistence-quantity of money straight out of college. ;)

After reading the post, I actually really like his point. I think about it a little differently but it resonates with me. Basically I am trying very hard to leave money out of my career/employment decisions because I think that enjoying your work, feeling valued, feeling like you're contributing is more important than a possible cash difference between the jobs. On the other hand, I think any/all jobs that I would consider would grant me a decent lifestyle.

---

I'm curious what opinions (and/or research/science) arrives in this discussion.

Sometimes I think "wait, where did these rules come from?" Everything we do evolved from the way our bodies and minds react to our environment and the decisions we make within it. Before "jobs" existed, there was only "make sure you find food and shelter, make babies, and keep them alive." Do you think our ancient evolutionary ancestors had an advantage if they happened to enjoy picking berries, fishing, throwing spears and building huts? That's probably a good possibility! But now, we have a system of trade/currency where we have very different "needs" that need fulfilled. Someone needs to go around and pick up the 96 gallon bags of plastic/paper/leftover food garbage we generate, and someone else has to drive us around in big cars from important social, sorry business meeting to meeting, and someone else has to stare at an electronic screen, read some things, and then push their fingers down in an intricate pattern on the block of plastic before them. These are really weird things when compared to our evolutionary roots. Should we enjoy them? Should the weird things that need to be done be jobs at all if no one likes to do them?

Some jobs lend themselves to a positive feedback loop, learning, growing, becoming more skilled and proficient, gaining relationships and so on. What if your job doesn't? Should that job be removed? If it's so algorithmic that eventually a robot could take over, should that job just go away so you can do something that engages your body and mind and gets you into the flow?

My bf and I took a roadtrip this weekend and one of the things we listened to was this freakonomics podcast: http://freakonomics.com/2015/03/05/this-idea-must-die-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/ based on (I guess) a new book of essays recently put out by the Edge foundation, in which a number of scientists, philosophers, etc. put forth an idea they think is detrimental to progress and is ready to be retired. Some of them, interestingly, conflict. But one of the ones discussed on freakonomics, by a neuroscientist, I think, was this idea that our brains have not evolved since the stone age. I think his point was that flexibility in thinking was actually much more instrumental to the advancement of the human species than any particular mental trait. And thus we are much better equipped for the modern world than frequently employed "but we didn't evolve to..." reasoning would imply. I may have misremembered something, and it was only one scientist's opinion, but I thought it was interesting/relevant to your point.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #22 on: March 29, 2015, 04:54:29 PM »
First, it IS a really privileged position, many poor throughout the world don't have the luxury of thinking about work they enjoy.

And at the extremes, I think most of us would be willing to take a terrible job if it paid off very quickly (clean toilets for a million dollars a day? Heck yeah!).  Or work a a job we could enjoy our entire life for low pay (chocolate taster? I'm in!)

The tricky decisions come in the middle. Be unhappy for 15 years in a soul crushing job, then retire, or work thirty years in a job you look forward to every dsy?

arebelspy

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #23 on: March 29, 2015, 04:58:29 PM »

And at the extremes, I think most of us would be willing to take a terrible job if it paid off very quickly (clean toilets for a million dollars a day? Heck yeah!). 

Yeah, I'd do that for a few years, until I hated it, then I'd quit.
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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #24 on: March 29, 2015, 05:05:40 PM »
You don't have to love your job. It's not your life, self-worth, or meaning. Its a means to an end. You don't want to hate your job. If you do, then you need to change something.

Not doing a job if you're not willing to do it for free? I think that's idealistic and immature. The world, as a whole, does not work that way. If you can get it work, great for you. However, I can't stand teenagers.

rmendpara

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #25 on: March 29, 2015, 06:59:35 PM »
I wouldn't do a job I hate for money, but there are plenty of jobs I'd do for money that I wouldn't do for free.

+1.

I wonder if the writer tried using an extreme case to simply push people in the right direction. Doing something you hHATE is not good, but it doesn't mean that the things we love are necessarily valuable in a monetary sense.

Perhaps a complicated way of "work to live"?

olivia

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #26 on: March 29, 2015, 07:08:54 PM »
I actually had a job I would do for free once, and I got bored of it after about 6-7 years and moved on.  And I wouldn't have done every single part of the job for free, either-just marts of it. 

I like my current job a lot, but I wouldn't do it for free.  However, I get paid way more than I did at the previous job, and it's a lot more challenging, so I'm happier.

I think this philosophy is a silly cliche.

Bob W

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #27 on: March 29, 2015, 07:22:01 PM »
Or this ---  I had a job as a home builder.   I lost about 75k over 3 years when the shit hit the fan.   Free would have been a huge raise!

Rural

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #28 on: March 29, 2015, 07:51:12 PM »
People who can say things like this have always had enough to eat.

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #29 on: March 29, 2015, 09:14:05 PM »
Kant said you should, "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law." In other words, it's only good for me if it's good for everyone.

So if everyone only does the jobs they'd do for free, we're going to have a lot of blocked-up sewers out there, and no-one to collect our rubbish, and a lot of sick people lying in their own filth in hospitals. So it doesn't make sense as a universal principle. Our society wouldn't function. Now, it's perfectly acceptable for someone to say we need an entirely new kind of society, but the authour apparently does not realise this would follow if his advice were followed by all, nor has he or anyone else laid out what that society would look like or if it's a good one. So it doesn't make sense.

What does make sense is this: distinguish between work and a job.

Your WORK is the activity that you feel makes the best use of your creative and productive powers; this may or may not get you money, and in fact may cost you money to do. Your JOB is the thing that earns you money.

For example, many people's work is being a parent, so they do some job to support that. This is how public toilets get cleaned. Ideally your work and your job are the same, but it can't always be so. What is more common is that people have a job but no work. They have nothing in their lives which fulfills them, just a few things that make them happy for a short while and which distract them from the meaningless of their existence, their lack of work.

So I say that everyone should have work, and if possible should make work their job. This works as a universal principle.

MrsPete

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #30 on: March 30, 2015, 08:14:08 AM »
I'm with Queenie:  Privledged mentality.  He even admits to that when he says that he doesn't have unpaid medical bills piled up, isn't dealing with the difficulties of being a single mom with an unsuppportive deadbeat dad, and hasn't faced unemployment or layoffs.  I'd also bet he's forgetting those first years out of school when he had NOTHING; after all, that's where most of us start. 

I've never bought into the concept of, Choose a job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life.  Many of my students buy into this drivel, and it leads them to foolishly believe that they can make a living from their favorite hobby.  One of my girls (thankfully she's only a sophomore) told me that she intends to get a business degree in college, then she's going to sell duct tape wallets on line.  Yeah, you may love duct tape, but you'll never make a living with that plan. 

We go to work because we need money.  Hopefully we each find a job that we enjoy, but few of us are dedicated enough to put in 40+ hours/week, year after year ... just because we enjoy it.  We're doing it because we need the money.  OR because the job gives us something else that we need; for example, we've heard of some people staying with a job for the insurance or other benefits. 

I'm a teacher, and people often say that they got into this job because they love children.  FALSE.  False in 100% of the situations.  We all got into this job because we need the money.  Additionally, we DO like working with children, but if you took away the need for money,we'd choose a DIFFERENT WAY to work with children.  We'd volunteer a couple hours a week tutoring kids for free.  We'd lead a scout troop, or we'd put together a children's musical at church, or we'd do fundraising for the school band.  We'd take in foster children.  We'd teach swim lessons in the summer or volunteer as little league coaches.  If our real motivation were love of children, we could find countless ways to work with them -- without all the negatives involved in our jobs.  None of us would grade research papers, sit through meetings where parents scream at us 'til their faces are red, put up with discipline problems from kids who don't want to be in the classroom, or report to work at 6:45 am in the cold, dark winter months if money weren't involved.   

Having said that, I would do PARTS of my job for free.  One of my retirement plans is to sponsor a book club for kids (perhaps during lunch?) to encourage those high-flyers who love to read independently and enjoy discussing books.  I would enjoy this, but it'd be a far cry from my 40+ hours a week job. 

And having said that, I agree that you shouldn't stay at a job you genuinely HATE just for the money.  However, I also don't buy into the idea that one perfect job exsists for you, and if you find it, life will become bliss.  No job's going to be perfect, and you have to judge whether the cost-vs-benefit weighs in your favor.  Take away the biggest benefit (pay), and few of us are going to be willing to pay the cost.




MrsPete

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #31 on: March 30, 2015, 08:30:28 AM »
I think this is an interesting philosophy, and it’s great if you can make a living at that. But I also think it can cause a great deal of stress if you *can’t*.

Personally, as a Gen-Xer, I think the idea that you should have a “calling”, or work that fulfills you so much that you’d do it for free, is what has screwed people up so much.

When my father was growing up, a job was a means to an end. Sure, it was great if you enjoyed it or were good at it. But the fact of the matter was – you worked to make a paycheck and support your family. Your reason for being was your family.

Along the way, when I was in college in the 80’s and 90’s, suddenly our work “defined” us and we had to feel fulfilled by it. Well, if you *aren’t*, then that causes an extreme amount of dissatisfaction and stress!

I enjoy what I do, but it comes with enough BS and politics that I would NEVER do it for free. My time is more valuable than that. But on the flip side, I do a LOT of free stuff for the school PTA (and frankly, I HATE IT but I do it for the good of the students).
I can definitely agree with this.  I agree that in the last years our young people have been told that they should feel passionate about their work, should feel high internal motivation at work, etc.  What a bunch of crap. 

My husband and I were both guided towards careers in this way:  You're good at ____.  That could translate into _____ job.  We were led to believe that we'd be happy and fairly treated at our jobs, but we were never made to think that we'd find ultimate satisifaction and self-actualization through our jobs.  I think that was a healthy attitude.  No one ever outright said it to us, but we were led to believe that our reasons for living would be our families, friends, hobbies, etc.  Work was intended to support those more important things. 

Somewhere along the way, that message changed.  I wonder how much of it has to do with the Woman's Movement of the 60s-70s.  One of the messages, especially early on, was that you are WASTED at home, and you DESERVE more.  So, clearly, if working is BETTER for women, then fulfillment must come from work.  And if it's true for women, it must also be true for men.  Now that message seems to have morphed into, You have choices. 

My oldest LOVES what she's studying in college, and I do think nursing is a calling for her -- I've known she was something medical since she was a toddler -- but I guarantee you that if she were offered enough money to live comfortably, she could fill her time instead of going to work.  I do suspect she'd still look for an outlet for her nursing.  I could see her volunteering with the elderly at church, or teaching first aid through 4H.  But would she work the 12+ hour night shifts that will soon be part of her life ... for free?  I don't even have to ask her the question. 

My youngest had to work harder to find a direction towards the work force -- for her, it is not a calling.  Rather, she's found something she's good at, something she finds motivating.  I think she'll be satisfied in the workplace, but I don't think she's the person who will define herself through her work.  However, she had a BIG PROBLEM in that she thought something was really, really wrong with her because she didn't feel a great passion towards any particular career early on. 

DecD

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #32 on: March 30, 2015, 08:32:37 AM »
I would not do my current job for free.  Not a chance.  But it pays very well, I like my coworkers, I believe in the industry and our goals.  I'm not currently enjoying the exact position, so I'm searching for something that will be more fun on a day to day basis, in the same industry.  But I don't expect to find a job that I'd do for free then, either!

I did work for free for a year- the year I finished my PhD research and dissertation, I was totally unpaid for various reasons.  It was bliss doing my own thing, every day, following my own goals.  I got all excited when Monday morning showed up.  But- I missed out on a LOT of salary that year.  To achieve my financial goals, I need to do work that someone will pay me for.  And for someone to pay me, I have to do the work that THEY want me to do, that furthers THEIR goals.  Best I can do is find the best possible match.

My job furthers my life goals (support my family, work towards FI, contribute to the advancement of my industry.)  Just because I wouldn't do it for free doesn't mean it's not working for me at the moment.   

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #33 on: March 30, 2015, 08:36:58 AM »
I think this is an interesting philosophy, and it’s great if you can make a living at that. But I also think it can cause a great deal of stress if you *can’t*.

Personally, as a Gen-Xer, I think the idea that you should have a “calling”, or work that fulfills you so much that you’d do it for free, is what has screwed people up so much.

When my father was growing up, a job was a means to an end. Sure, it was great if you enjoyed it or were good at it. But the fact of the matter was – you worked to make a paycheck and support your family. Your reason for being was your family.

Along the way, when I was in college in the 80’s and 90’s, suddenly our work “defined” us and we had to feel fulfilled by it. Well, if you *aren’t*, then that causes an extreme amount of dissatisfaction and stress!

I enjoy what I do, but it comes with enough BS and politics that I would NEVER do it for free. My time is more valuable than that. But on the flip side, I do a LOT of free stuff for the school PTA (and frankly, I HATE IT but I do it for the good of the students).
I can definitely agree with this.  I agree that in the last years our young people have been told that they should feel passionate about their work, should feel high internal motivation at work, etc.  What a bunch of crap. 

My husband and I were both guided towards careers in this way:  You're good at ____.  That could translate into _____ job.  We were led to believe that we'd be happy and fairly treated at our jobs, but we were never made to think that we'd find ultimate satisifaction and self-actualization through our jobs.  I think that was a healthy attitude.  No one ever outright said it to us, but we were led to believe that our reasons for living would be our families, friends, hobbies, etc.  Work was intended to support those more important things. 

Somewhere along the way, that message changed.  I wonder how much of it has to do with the Woman's Movement of the 60s-70s.  One of the messages, especially early on, was that you are WASTED at home, and you DESERVE more.  So, clearly, if working is BETTER for women, then fulfillment must come from work.  And if it's true for women, it must also be true for men.  Now that message seems to have morphed into, You have choices. 

My oldest LOVES what she's studying in college, and I do think nursing is a calling for her -- I've known she was something medical since she was a toddler -- but I guarantee you that if she were offered enough money to live comfortably, she could fill her time instead of going to work.  I do suspect she'd still look for an outlet for her nursing.  I could see her volunteering with the elderly at church, or teaching first aid through 4H.  But would she work the 12+ hour night shifts that will soon be part of her life ... for free?  I don't even have to ask her the question. 

My youngest had to work harder to find a direction towards the work force -- for her, it is not a calling.  Rather, she's found something she's good at, something she finds motivating.  I think she'll be satisfied in the workplace, but I don't think she's the person who will define herself through her work.  However, she had a BIG PROBLEM in that she thought something was really, really wrong with her because she didn't feel a great passion towards any particular career early on.

You make a very good point here.  In my (anecdotal) experience, I've found my fellow women engineers to have more struggles with job satisfaction than our male colleagues in one way.  It seems that in general, men in my generation (I'm closing in on 40) went into the job field with the expectation that they support themselves and their families.  Hopefully find something they like that pays well.  Whereas women were (in general) told they could stay at home OR get a career, whichever gave them fulfillment.  So- instead of going into our jobs looking for a good paycheck and satisfying work, we're going into our jobs looking for bliss and fulfillment (otherwise, why aren't we at home with the kids?)  Again, this is a gross generalization, but I think it has a bit of truth to it, at least with a dozen or so friends of my generation in my industry (male and female).

I think it's way easier to find job satisfaction if you're looking for a realistic outcome. 

jzb11

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #34 on: March 30, 2015, 10:00:07 AM »
I've always found the "do what you love" advice to be idealistic, naive, lacking perspective, and ignorant of the harsh realities of this world.

While well meaning, I think it's difficult to find something you are passionate about that will generate income. I also think it is difficult to find your passions to begin with, especially if you did not grow up in an environment that nurtured your development in this manner.

The fact of the matter is there are hundreds of millions of people in this world who would kill for a job that provided them with enough to provide for their families.

Kaspian

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #35 on: March 30, 2015, 10:32:38 AM »
I was wondering, is an undertaker or embalmer allowed to go around saying they "love their job"?  What about a guy at a sewage treatment plant?  These are both extremely necessary and  socially valuable positions.  Yet if, in private conversation, they go around saying they "love it", society would treat them as a social pariah.  "Yes, I love washing dead people, filling them up formaldehyde, coming their hair, and seeing their loved ones cry.  The smell is great and my job is amazing!!" Judging others that they don't do what they love when it's a given that somebody's not supposed to say they love their job is an underhanded and mean-spirited Catch 22.  ...Especially coming from a "privileged mentality".

nobody123

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #36 on: March 30, 2015, 11:16:23 AM »
The best career advice I ever received was from an accounting professor who was teaching as a side hustle to his regular career running two small businesses.  He said, "Don't believe that bullsh*t about finding a career that makes you happy.  A job isn't supposed to be fun.  You get a job to make money so you can buy stuff to have fun with.  No matter what any of you end up doing, it will become boring and tedious at some point.  That's why they have to pay somebody to do it."  He then went on to tell us how awesome it was to drive between his jobs in a new Corvette, which made the time he spent at the jobs tolerable.

It isn't the most Mustachian of takes, but it's how I generally look at my career.  I am fortunate enough to have a decent job that I can tolerate, I can provide for my family with some savings for the future, and I don't have to lift heavy things all day long.  Would I be "happier" in other lower-paid occupations?  I could probably think of at least one lower-paid job I'd rather be doing than this one.  However, I am willing to sacrifice some short-term happiness to get to FI earlier than most.  Ultimately, I'm not curing cancer or rescuing orphans; I'm just another cog in the corporate machine.  If I wasn't doing my job, they'd find someone else to do it in short order.  If they stopped paying me, I would find whatever job paid me the most that I could tolerate.

galliver

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #37 on: March 30, 2015, 12:10:38 PM »
Has anyone commenting here actually read the article? Because here are the author's caveats (more details in the actual link!).

Quote
1. Hard work is not to be feared. If the inherent joy found in work is not appreciated in somebody’s life, this approach will always crumble.[...]

2. Work is not always enjoyable. With any job, there are aspects of work that are frustrating and difficult—even with the greatest dream job in the world. I am not encouraging anyone to relinquish perseverance or to refuse pushing through the diffic [...]

3. Life pursuits can not be purely selfish. Those who believe they will find enjoyment entertaining only selfish desires will never survive under this approach to work. [...]

4. This approach rings more true for those willing to live with less. Because I have adopted a philosophy that says, “I will only do it for money if I would do it free,” I have turned down several, significant money-making opportunities. [...]

5. This approach does not necessarily require a new job. I think, at first reading, this sounds as if I am urging everybody to quit their soul-crushing day job and try to monetize their passion. But that could not be further from the truth. Instead, I would push people to reconsider their views on their current employment. [...]

This isn't about automatically quitting any job that doesn't fulfil you, damn the financial consequences. It's about evaluating how good a fit the job is and whether you should strive for something different.

I doubt that when there is a big emergency or disaster, nurses rush to work thinking about the overtime they're about to earn. I think most of them are thinking about the people.
When I was in middle school, our teachers worked without a current contract for two years before pulling a "half-strike" (they stopped doing all but the bare minimum work/hours for their job: no lunchtime or afternoon club meetings, and I don't think they even graded papers in the evenings/outside their prep period). You could see how much they hated doing this. (Note, they were still getting paid during those two years, obviously. I think they wanted better benefits or raises or something, which stalled the negotiations for a long time. I was only 12. It was a long time ago.)
While it seems weird for an undertaker or a sewage professional (engineer?) to like their job, because the idea squicks the rest of us out, I think Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs made a good point about the kind of satisfaction people get from these jobs. The undertaker is bringing solace to grieving families. The person maintaining the sewers is keeping that system running, keeping people's homes and businesses clean. "Serving others" may not be everyone's motivation, but that's fine; we also need people eager to pursue their own ideas, put them above the needs of others.
Finally, the "fun jobs"...I assume something like acting/music/celebrities would belong here? Having your body and personal life scrutinized by everyone, trailed by paparazzi and fans with no privacy to speak of? Being at someone's beck and call during filming/recording for long days? Really doesn't sound all that fun; and these are the successful ones. But some people are really good at managing all that. And good for them.

As for toilets, I clean one for free all the time. Occasionally several others. I expect to continue doing so.

goatmom

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #38 on: March 30, 2015, 12:58:57 PM »
I would do my job for free.  I love what I do and I work for myself.  There are parts of it I don't like, but overall I really enjoy it.  I only work 20 hours a week, so I might not love it so much if I worked 40 or 60 hours each week. My dh would not be happy if I did it for free and people expect to pay - so I also make good money.  But, I don't make nearly as much as I could because I often don't charge or don't charge what I could.  I will probably do my job for free in the future.  I think there are jobs like this and I think there are also people like me that can find enjoyment in doing many things.  I used to be a waitress and really liked that.  Would I do it for free?  Not to make someone rich but if I was helping out a worthy cause - Yup, probably would.  When I was a kid, my school was run by nuns.  Pretty sure they taught for free and many of them seemed very happy.  I think if I am not working too many hours, not working for a jerk, and like the people I work with, get outside part of the day, I will be happy in my job.

MrsPete

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #39 on: March 30, 2015, 08:26:49 PM »
Whereas women were (in general) told they could stay at home OR get a career, whichever gave them fulfillment.  So- instead of going into our jobs looking for a good paycheck and satisfying work, we're going into our jobs looking for bliss and fulfillment (otherwise, why aren't we at home with the kids?)  Again, this is a gross generalization, but I think it has a bit of truth to it, at least with a dozen or so friends of my generation in my industry (male and female).
Yeah, I can relate to it too.  I'm about five years older than you, so I came along right after the "Superwoman" phase or the "You can have it all era".  I think that's no longer much of a mantra. 
I've always found the "do what you love" advice to be idealistic, naive, lacking perspective, and ignorant of the harsh realities of this world.
Yeah, totally agree. 

I remember once complaining about some aspect of a part-time job at a retail store ... and my grandmother said, "If it was all fun and games, they wouldn't have to pay you to do it.  Instead, you'd pay them.  So quit your complaining."  She was right. 
I was wondering, is an undertaker or embalmer allowed to go around saying they "love their job"?  What about a guy at a sewage treatment plant? 
I think an undertaker could say, "I get satisfaction from helping families through difficult periods of time."  And a sewage plant employee could say, "I enjoy knowing that I keep our city clean."  Both are truthful, though they're looking at the sunny side of the situation. 


samburger

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #40 on: March 31, 2015, 12:36:25 PM »
This isn't about automatically quitting any job that doesn't fulfil you, damn the financial consequences. It's about evaluating how good a fit the job is and whether you should strive for something different.

Thank you for the TL;DR! The do-what-you-love narrative is super off-putting (too much privilege, not enough self-awareness), but the above point seems reasonable. I am, after all, striving for FI because I don't think my job, or any FT job, is great fit for me.

Ricky

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #41 on: March 31, 2015, 12:54:22 PM »
In an ideal world? No. In reality? Many times, but not always.

The 40 hr workweek alone is so arbitrary that literally no one would adhere to it if given the choice so that means automatically there are, in actuality, very few gigs where one would show up voluntarily without pay.

Once you have enough FU money, you can begin to design your life to make work more tolerable - and that's what it's about. Telecommuting, part time, etc. Once you've reached that point, you're only working for extra padding or for fulfillment, social interaction, other reasons, or a combination of everything aforementioned.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 12:56:22 PM by Ricky »

Kyle Schuant

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #42 on: April 07, 2015, 01:41:36 AM »
The blatant hostility many people here are expressing about their paid jobs illustrate what I said: that there's a difference between your work and your job, and that in fact while many people have jobs, few of them have work. Most are unfulfilled, and resent that they need to spend however many hours a day earning money.

But I suppose that a forum dedicated to the idea of very early retirement is going to attract people who hate what they do every day.

RunHappy

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #43 on: April 07, 2015, 05:06:22 AM »
The blatant hostility many people here are expressing about their paid jobs illustrate what I said: that there's a difference between your work and your job, and that in fact while many people have jobs, few of them have work. Most are unfulfilled, and resent that they need to spend however many hours a day earning money.

But I suppose that a forum dedicated to the idea of very early retirement is going to attract people who hate what they do every day.

I disagree with this.  I am not seeing the blatant hostility you are seeing.  What I'm seeing that people on here are no depending on their jobs to fulfill every aspect of their life.

I realize I fall into a weird position (it has been pointed out my entire working life) in that I am a woman who has chosen to approach my career from a "man's" point of view, meaning I work to earn as much money as possible to provide for my family (I was the sole breadwinner for over 15 years). I have several woman friends who are vet techs, professional volunteers, fitness instructors, etc.  They find these jobs very fulfilling and purposeful, however these jobs allow them to BARELY pay the bills.  In fact without their spouses they would be living way below average lifestyles.

I personally hate the double standards that are applied to women, in that we are encouraged to find meaningful occupations rather than looking at the practicality of what a well paying job can provide.  I've often said that there has never been a job that I truly hated.  I can find the silver lining in most everything I have ever done, but that doesn't mean I want to have a job for the rest of my life.

I can't speak for everyone goal of FIRE, but my idea of FIRE is to have enough money to set my own schedule.  I plan to do the same type of consulting I do now, because I enjoy what I do, but I want to do it on my own timetable.  Meaning I don't want to have a boss who sets my schedule, I want to set my schedule. Work when I want to, not work when I don't.  I can't do that until I have enough money to not work.  That is my FIRE goal.


Kaspian

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #44 on: April 07, 2015, 11:05:56 AM »
I began selling my comics on eBay, in effect giving myself a second "job".  Oddly, I find that I highly enjoy doing it.  I like rummaging through them, taking photos, and doing scans.  So, by extension, should I be posting and giving away my comics for free?  Fuck no.  The whole idea is just plain stupid.

Doulos

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #45 on: April 07, 2015, 08:47:10 PM »
Luckily writing code is unpopular enough that I am set for life!
Even the day job I plan on quitting meets the criteria of "I would do it for free".

For me "It" is the same work.  I just plan to make programs I choose to make instead of programs customers want made.


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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #46 on: April 08, 2015, 06:00:45 AM »
Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free? Yes, in most cases. Very few people are rich enough that they could afford to answer in the negative. For most of us, there isn't anything we'd do for free that someone is willing to pay us to do--at least not for very long. And if it was something we wanted to do, probably a lot of other people want to do it too, so the wage would be little to nothing. You would have to be a more atypical person to have a job that only you could really love and that provides a lot of value to the employer. You'd also have to be pretty atypical to have a job that a lot of people would like to have, but you have some highly valuable characteristic that causes the employer to want you and not those other people.

But the point I take away from this is: 'get as close to doing what you love as is possible, while still optimizing your income to allow you to do what you love in the long term'

So I have jobs I don't hate (most days), but that pay me well enough to FIRE in my 30's so I can do whatever I want with most of my life.

mm1970

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #47 on: April 08, 2015, 01:20:36 PM »
I think this is an interesting philosophy, and it’s great if you can make a living at that. But I also think it can cause a great deal of stress if you *can’t*.

Personally, as a Gen-Xer, I think the idea that you should have a “calling”, or work that fulfills you so much that you’d do it for free, is what has screwed people up so much.

When my father was growing up, a job was a means to an end. Sure, it was great if you enjoyed it or were good at it. But the fact of the matter was – you worked to make a paycheck and support your family. Your reason for being was your family.

Along the way, when I was in college in the 80’s and 90’s, suddenly our work “defined” us and we had to feel fulfilled by it. Well, if you *aren’t*, then that causes an extreme amount of dissatisfaction and stress!

I enjoy what I do, but it comes with enough BS and politics that I would NEVER do it for free. My time is more valuable than that. But on the flip side, I do a LOT of free stuff for the school PTA (and frankly, I HATE IT but I do it for the good of the students).
I can definitely agree with this.  I agree that in the last years our young people have been told that they should feel passionate about their work, should feel high internal motivation at work, etc.  What a bunch of crap. 

My husband and I were both guided towards careers in this way:  You're good at ____.  That could translate into _____ job.  We were led to believe that we'd be happy and fairly treated at our jobs, but we were never made to think that we'd find ultimate satisifaction and self-actualization through our jobs.  I think that was a healthy attitude.  No one ever outright said it to us, but we were led to believe that our reasons for living would be our families, friends, hobbies, etc.  Work was intended to support those more important things. 

Somewhere along the way, that message changed.  I wonder how much of it has to do with the Woman's Movement of the 60s-70s.  One of the messages, especially early on, was that you are WASTED at home, and you DESERVE more.  So, clearly, if working is BETTER for women, then fulfillment must come from work.  And if it's true for women, it must also be true for men.  Now that message seems to have morphed into, You have choices. 

My oldest LOVES what she's studying in college, and I do think nursing is a calling for her -- I've known she was something medical since she was a toddler -- but I guarantee you that if she were offered enough money to live comfortably, she could fill her time instead of going to work.  I do suspect she'd still look for an outlet for her nursing.  I could see her volunteering with the elderly at church, or teaching first aid through 4H.  But would she work the 12+ hour night shifts that will soon be part of her life ... for free?  I don't even have to ask her the question. 

My youngest had to work harder to find a direction towards the work force -- for her, it is not a calling.  Rather, she's found something she's good at, something she finds motivating.  I think she'll be satisfied in the workplace, but I don't think she's the person who will define herself through her work.  However, she had a BIG PROBLEM in that she thought something was really, really wrong with her because she didn't feel a great passion towards any particular career early on.

You make a very good point here.  In my (anecdotal) experience, I've found my fellow women engineers to have more struggles with job satisfaction than our male colleagues in one way.  It seems that in general, men in my generation (I'm closing in on 40) went into the job field with the expectation that they support themselves and their families.  Hopefully find something they like that pays well.  Whereas women were (in general) told they could stay at home OR get a career, whichever gave them fulfillment.  So- instead of going into our jobs looking for a good paycheck and satisfying work, we're going into our jobs looking for bliss and fulfillment (otherwise, why aren't we at home with the kids?)  Again, this is a gross generalization, but I think it has a bit of truth to it, at least with a dozen or so friends of my generation in my industry (male and female).

I think it's way easier to find job satisfaction if you're looking for a realistic outcome.

This is a good point too.  I'm in my 40's, and a senior engineer.  For me, the hardest part is the glass ceiling.  I bought into the "you can do anything!" "Work is bliss!"  "Climb the ladder!"  Then I got one boss that slammed the door on that.  It only takes one - no upward mobility anymore.  So then I'm NOT fulfilled at work and I don't particularly want to be at home.  So wait, what am I doing?

While I enjoy working (for the most part, it's been a rough couple of years though), my challenge now is finding a job that I like day to day and that has the flexibility that I need.  I've got 2 kids that need to be picked up by 5:30, which means I need to leave at 4:30.  That's a whole other challenge!

Schaefer Light

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #48 on: April 13, 2015, 10:02:05 AM »
The tricky decisions come in the middle. Be unhappy for 15 years in a soul crushing job, then retire, or work thirty years in a job you look forward to every dsy?
Exactly.  That's a very difficult question to answer.  And what if you leave that high-paying/soul crushing job for a lower paying job you think you will love only to discover that it's no better than the high-paying one you had before?
« Last Edit: April 13, 2015, 10:04:35 AM by Schaefer Light »

Valhalla

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Re: Should you work at a job if you wouldn't do it for free?
« Reply #49 on: April 13, 2015, 10:34:49 AM »
I've always found the "do what you love" advice to be idealistic, naive, lacking perspective, and ignorant of the harsh realities of this world.

Agreed... don't "do what you love", but "love what you do".

If getting paid a nice sum for doing volunteering, you've hit the jackpot.