A few years ago I found myself at a career crossroads. I was working for Google at the time and had a competing job offer from an up-and-coming startup. I was paralyzed by the decision and upon reflection realized it was because I had no idea what my career goals were or even why I worked. Money may seem like an obvious answer to the, "why do you work?" question, but that's not the why. The why is what the money allows you to do.
To help with my decision, I created something I call my, Reasons Why I Work list, and at the time it looked like this:
Reasons Why I Work
- to feel financially secure which means paying off my student loans and having money in case of an emergency
- to meet people, make friends and broaden my perspective
- to constantly become a better and smarter person
- to make extra money so I can do all of the things outside work that bring joy, including: dinner with friends, traveling the world, Pilates classes, buying nice shoes, shopping at Anthropologie
Note: this is an excerpt from a real list written by the twenty-something, advertising salesperson, pre-child, version of myself. So yes, shoe shopping and trips to Anthropologie really did (and maybe still do?) make the list!
My list helped me realize that my smart and amazing coworkers, the working environment, and the pay, made Google the place for me at the time. I stayed for another 4+ years until I had a baby and my list changed.
I still maintain a Reasons Why I Work list and I also have a lot of other Reasons Why I... lists that help me find direction when I'm lacking motivation or feeling like a wanderer in this world. For example, I also have a Reasons Why I Cook list that motivates me to head to the grocery store and put something homemade on the table even when I'm feeling like I'd rather be watching re-runs of Modern Family. It looks like this:
Reasons Why I Cook
- because the food I eat becomes who I am
- because I hate to outsource the biggest contributor to my health
- because I hate having stomach aches
- because cooking allows me to be creative
- because I want to know I'm doing everything possible to keep myself and my family healthy
- because I hate when even my rings feel tight after eating too much salt
- because home cooked food is delicious
Having an idea of the reasons why I do what I do helps me make decisions that are in line with my values and ultimately makes me feel better at the end of the day.
Everyone is different so no one list will look the same. What are your reasons why?