Have you ever stopped to think about why we work? Forty years ago when I entered the workforce, I never thought about it. It was just what you did after college. Then I had to keep working to pay my car payment, then my mortgage, then… well you get the picture, it was money focused. I just never stopped to think about these things very much, I was too busy living and working my J.O.B, but after awhile it felt like I was just busy “getting through it”.

I have a niece, Anna that I love to pieces. Her approach is about as far away from mine as you can get. Anna is fairly fresh out of college and she works to get just enough money, say $500, to get on the road and go experience something. It might be a dance event, an art show, or just new places to see.  She is always thinking outside that box of tradition that trapped me, a free spirit for sure compared to my twenty-something experience.

Both of us have reasons to work, acceptable reasons. But I believe I missed the opportunity to think clearly about my future and the role that work would play for me in the coming decades. I was trading my time for a paycheck. Work was good, but the living really only happened on the weekends. The dominant force in my life was my work, my employer’s goals, and my job. Anna’s approach sounds good in comparison, but I often wonder whether or not Anna’s approach would lead to greater happiness in the long run.

I have nothing to complain about, my work as served my family and me well.  But what if I had put as much energy into thinking about the possibilities for my future life as I had put into solving problems for my employers?  I might have discovered much earlier that my happiness comes from helping others and I might have designed a life that allowed me to focus on this passion earlier.

Where does your happiness come from? And do you experience it 7 days a week? Or just 2 days?