“Work is simply another playground in which to explore our personal evolution.” ~ Mark Darren Gregor
If you’re like me, you have probably thought to yourself some form of the following heresy, “I’d get so much more done with my life if I didn’t have to go to work.”
It’s a thought we don’t say out loud because we’re told pretty absolutely that work is good for us, and that it’s our job to have a job in this society. But if we’re honest and we really cared, we could probably do our jobs in about 25-50% of the time we usually spend.
How much more could we be freed up to do if we all worked half the time we do now? Would we get deeper into education? Would we write those novels? Would we be in better physical condition? Would we actually parent our own children? If you ask me, Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes. Wouldn’t that be a better society all around?
In fact, it’s not a new idea. Back in 1970, the great American genius was R. Buckminster Fuller.
“We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living.
We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”
One in 10,000 of us – in 1970. What does that ratio look like 44 years later?
Using the data provided by the United State Bureau of Labor Statistics, Erik Rauch has estimated productivity to have increased by nearly 400% since 1950. According to Rauch, “if productivity means anything at all, a worker should be able to earn the same standard of living as a 1950 worker in only 11 hours per week.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Did you hear that? We ought to be able to earn the 1950’s golden era of standard of living in only 11 working hours per week. And yet we are around 33 hours on average in the U.S.
Interestingly, the New Economics Foundation has recommended moving to a 21 hour standard work week to address problems with unemployment, high carbon emissions, low well-being, entrenched inequalities, overworking, family care, and the general lack of free time. (Source: Wikipedia)
Okay, so maybe we can’t go from a 40 hour standard to a 21 hour standard, but what can we do to start making the switch to at least enjoying our jobs?
In the 1923 book “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran, we find a spiritual approach to work that questions the purpose behind the labor:
“Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.”
I asked Mark Darren Gregor, career strategist, speaker & scholar at TheAlignedCareer.com, about how his clients make the leap from a job filled with drudgery to a career filled with purpose.
“‘Work’ is simply another playground in which to explore our personal evolution. The more our work is aligned with our individual sense of purpose, the more that purpose permeates our life experience. And in turn, the more we experience purpose in our life experience, the more motivated, committed and effective we become in not just our work, but in all aspects of life.”
I asked him if men experience any unique challenges because of the “maleness” associated with “working hard.”
“Men, like women, are challenged with their belief that being their gender means anything. Whether favorably associated or not, the “male” identity comes with it a freight train of cultural and sociological beliefs that are no more real than any one of the millions of cultural or social labels we attach to ourselves every day.”
So what do you think? Have I convinced you to quit your job? What can we do as a society to ratchet back the work? How have you achieved a work/life balance? How much of your identity as a male comes from your career? What would you do with 20-30 extra hours in the week? Hit me @NextGent
Photo by Flickr/Seattle Municipal Archives