There are some people who choose minimalism as a means to escape work. While I understand the appeal, I am not one of them.
I enjoy work. I find happiness and joy in it. And I believe, without a doubt in my mind, those who feel the most fulfilled at the end of their lives are those who have chosen to work hard during it.
Now, just to be clear, I am not advocating to be busy just to be busy. I am advocating for the importance of doing your work (whether paid or unpaid) in a focused and deliberate way, putting your whole self into it. Doing the best you can, to accomplish the most you can, with the one life you’ve got.
But if one has chosen minimalism as a lifestyle, where do we find the motivation for working hard? After all, if we are content to own less (even prefer it), what is the point of hard work and striving for success?
If the goal of work isn’t to earn more and more money so we can buy bigger and bigger houses and fancier and more expensive cars, then what’s the point? If we’ve chosen to measure life’s success in more important terms than material possessions, why would we choose to continue working hard?
There are, actually, countless reasons.
Consider these seven, just to get started:
1. Work forces personal development.
Work, by its very nature, presents challenges and growth opportunities. It requires us to improve and develop and become better versions of ourselves. The more we grow, the better at work we get… and the greater the challenges become.
2. Our work brings benefit to society.
Our work contributes to the good of society. It serves others, it enriches peoples’ lives, and it moves everyone forward. Whether we are bagging groceries, delivering mail, analyzing stocks, curing cancer, or managing other workers, we can view our work as an act of love to the people we serve.
3. Hard work is an example to our kids.
When we strive to do our best work each day, our kids take notice. And among the greatest character traits I hope to pass on to my children is the importance of working hard on things that matter.
4. Work hard at work to work hard at life.
We learn important life lessons when we give ourselves over to hard work: determination, attentiveness, responsibility, problem-solving, and self-control all come to mind. These lessons, in turn, serve us in other areas (health, relationships, hobbies, etc.).
5. Work hard to make the most of your hours. They will pass anyway.
Each new day brings with it an important choice: either we fill it with our best or we allow it to slip away. There is no other option—the hours are going to pass anyway. Choosing to work hard makes the most of them. Please note: I am not discounting the importance of rest or balance—I have written about both extensively.
6. Work is fulfilling, in and of itself.
In my opinion, there are few joys in life more satisfying than laying down at night with tired legs attached to a tired body. To know I gave my full energy to something important is an amazing feeling and fulfilling in itself.
7. Working hard keeps our lives occupied with important matters.
Living an unoccupied life is a recipe for disaster. Choosing to fill our time and energy with things that bring value to others helps keep us from selfish and foolish decisions with idle time.
There is value in hard work and minimalism does not remove the inherent value of it. In my opinion, it brings its inherent value in sharper focus.
But, Joshua, I hate my job and find no value in it. What would you say?
Before ending this post, allow me to briefly speak to those of you disengaged at work—those who no longer find any joy in your specific role and want nothing more than to escape it.
I understand that not every job is enjoyable and feeling motivated to work hard comes easier to someone who looks forward to punching in the clock each morning (or evening). Sometimes, we are required to do work we do not enjoy. If that’s you, please remember, your enjoyment (or unenjoyment) of work does not diminish the inherent value in it.
If you are working a job you hate to provide for your family, you are doing a noble thing and should be commended. And working hard at it, in the place you are today, is your most important step out of it.
Please add to this conversation in the comment section below. What other reasons to work hard should be added to the list?