How Do I Stop Working For The Sake of Working?

By Teo Beng Wee
BRANDING & GRAPHIC DESIGNER
bengwee@pace-od.com

In the novel, “The Myth of Sisyphus,” French philosopher, Albert Camus recounts the Greek mythological story of Sisyphus, a king sentenced to an eternal punishment by the gods, having to repeatedly push a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again whenever he reaches the top. It’s an endless tiresome routine that serves no meaning for Sisyphus. When we wake up everyday and head out to work, are we all just Sisyphuses in a modern context? 

Unfortunately, the majority of us works for the sake of working. There are various cultural and societal pressures to have a job with a good salary so we can keep our stomachs filled and afford the things we desire. It can eventually feel like a humdrum routine, but I believe there are ways to try to change our perspective of work. 

FINDING ONE’S PURPOSE IN WORK

It’s important that we try to find meaning and value in the work that we do. When our daily work is meaningful to us, we tend to be more passionate and interested. Naturally, we will become more motivated and find greater enjoyment in the work that we do. 

TAKING YOUR PLEASURES SERIOUSLY

“Take your pleasures seriously,” said the American designer Charles Eames, best known for his groundbreaking contributions to architecture, furniture and industrial design, and photographic arts. For Eames, his work in design was his very pleasure and passion. When we begin to view the work we do as a pleasure to be taken seriously, we will no longer just go through the motions of our jobs.

SETTING PERSONAL GOALS AND CHALLENGES

Once we find a strong sense of purpose in our work and develop a deeper level of pleasure and passion towards it, we can then set goals in our job that we can work towards. Camus concludes his account of Sisyphus by asking that the reader imagines he is happy, because “the struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart.” In the same way, setting personal challenges and goals can help us to take delight in the work that we do.

Most of us work to afford the freedom to do the things we want and need. So it’s important that we do not eventually lose ourselves in the motions of our work and end up forfeiting the very desires which we hoped our jobs would bring us closer to. When we are able to view our work as both a pleasure and challenge, we’ll find we’re no longer working for the sake of working.

Do you find pleasure in the work you do and have tips to share? Please comment or write in to me at connect@pace-od.com, I'd love to hear from you!