Do we work to live or live to work? - Jared Chan


I often think about life choices and how much of an impact those choices make in our lives. One of the biggest choices we all have to face is what we choose to do for work. This impacts our lives like no other choice because it consumes the majority of our time. In essence, it defines who we are as people and how we view the world and our own lives.

What I’ve noticed is that many people work to live. This means that they suffer through the long hours of tedious work just so they can have a little bit of life to themselves on the side.

Some of these people live to go out on the weekends and spend all their money on getting drunk, partying, and chasing the opposite sex. Others work hard all week, hating it, almost despising it, just so they can go home and spend some quality time with their loved ones. And another group work every week, and don’t really enjoy it that much but they are content, they have come to terms with the mediocrity that they have settled for and don’t mind working in a place that doesn’t quite suit their ideal. For these people work is just work and you have to get on with it. It’s just what you have to do to live.

I definitely sympathize with this view of work, especially if you have a family and you need to provide for them, but I’d like to challenge this view by going back and looking at the choices these people made in order to develop such a mindset about work.

At some point, these people made a choice to favor stability instead of taking a risk to pursue their dreams. As time progressed and their responsibilities increased it became too difficult to take those risks anymore. So now they are forced to work in order to live.

But what if these same people, while they were younger and had the opportunity, chose to pursue their dreams and the things that really resonated with their heart? If they consistently pursued that direction and put all their hard work into what they truly loved, instead of what they didn’t care about as much, it’s likely they would have succeeded. Remember, these are hardworking people. They work hard. But they’ve worked hard at the wrong things.

If they had worked hard on the right things, their dreams, their true desires, they would never have developed the mindset that they simply have to work to live. Instead, they would live to work.

They would wake up motivated to work and excited about contributing their work to the world. A fresh breath of life would encircle most of their working days as they truly live out a part of who they are.

Not everything is perfect, some days are still full of stress, but deep down they are truly living the life they always wanted. In this sense, living to work means that their work gives life and a sense of purpose to the individual.

It’s not guaranteed that you will succeed, but you are guaranteed to fail if you never try. Why settle for less when you could die tomorrow? Why not die trying?

After all, many psychologists have noted that the pursuit of a goal provides more positive emotion than the attainment of a goal. The problem is that people have stopped pursuing their dreams.

All it takes is the right mindset and the balls to follow through with your vision. Decide to live to work.

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