I have aspired to good work. I realised early on that in doing so, I was at my happiest. I need my work to have value, meaning, purpose and some sense of accomplishment. When this happens, I feel at my best. It affirms my talents and competence, and my creativity flows. At times, I have had work that lacked these things and I have found myself below par, restless and generally unhappy.
Whenever I have had conversations about this, anywhere in the world, I have found that this is something that resonates profoundly with others.
This human phenomenon seems simple enough, but it is not. The connection we make between work and happiness can be complex and confusing. Anyone who has striven for, and abstained, “the dream job” knows how quickly the “shine” can fade when the daily reality sets in.
Regardless of which job I had, wrestling with this has been the real “work of my life”. Along the way, I have come to appreciate two key questions. I first remember these being my mother’s constant refrain in my childhood and adolescence. At the time, I had no understanding of their deep and lasting philosophical significance. These questions are touchstones to which I keep returning. They are crucial to wrestling with the mystery of work, happiness, meaning, purpose, identity and more.
I hear these questions as clearly within, as clearly as a child I heard my mother’s voice:
Making time to reflect and wrestle with these questions has resulted in finding work that I have loved. For the last twenty years, I have been lucky to share this quest with others across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the USA and the UK.
I think I am on to something.