Why Do You Go to Work?

One of my favorite movies about work is the DVD classic, Office Space. The movie basically pokes fun at everything “corporate,” from cubicles to consultants. In one scene the main character, Peter, is lamenting to friends about his plight as an office worker:

Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements.

It is a valid point, and one that has me thinking – exactly why do people go to work every day?

Money

Money is probably the number one reason most people get up every Monday morning and head off to work. And for good reason. Unless you are independently wealthy, or have already reached financial independence, you have to go work for someone else to earn money and pay for necessities (and a few wants, too). Sadly, for many people this is the only reason they work. This group works extreme hours to earn as much money as possible, often to the detriment of their personal relationships. In school, many college students elect majors based on the promise of high starting salaries, not because they love what they intend to do, but because they believe it is a path to riches.  To them I say follow your heart and the money will come.

Intrinsic Motivation

It is hard to believe, but there are some people out there who actually enjoy what they do. For them, getting up in the morning and heading off to their job is actually exciting. When you look forward to going to work the next day on Sunday evening you know you have found the work you love. For the rest of us the weekend pattern usually goes something like this, “Thank God it’s Friday! Is it already Saturday night? Oh well, at least we have tomorrow. I can’t believe it is Sunday night – where did the weekend go? I sure dread going in tomorrow.” Sound familiar?

Socializing

Working mothers often tell my wife (a full-time Mom) and I that there is no way they could stay home all day with kids. They need “social interaction” with other adults. They do have a point in that I think it is good for everyone to have a circle of friends to share experiences with, other than diaper changes and potty training. However, I do not believe the only place to find that is in the office. In fact, most offices tend to frown on socializing in the workplace. If these women really wanted to stay home with their kids and socialize they could plug into one of the many moms groups such as Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS).

Societal Norm

Society has yet to embrace the idea of someone making money from non-traditional methods (such as blogging, or freelancing). We are expected to go to school, get a degree, get a job and stay there for as long as the employer will have us. If we so much as even look at a job board we are being disloyal. Well, times are changing. There is no longer such a thing as a totally secure job. Companies have proven that they can hire and fire at will (in most places) and frequently announce layoffs to improve the bottom line. A good way to hedge against this growing trend is to find something you can do on a part time basis that will help diversify your income. You never know, one day you could bring in more at your PT job than your full time job, and then you can claim financial independence from corporate America.

Why Do I Go to Work?

Probably a combination of the four reasons above, but at this point in my life it is mostly for money. Yes, I get up every day and come to the office to earn money for my family – simple as that. I don’t get much internal satisfaction from what I do, but it isn’t unpleasant. I do not socialize much with coworkers because for the most part we don’t have much in common. I would much rather be spending time with my family than working, but work is required to pay bills, feed my family, etc. I do hope to one day exit the rat race as several of my blogging friends have done. Until then, I’ll continue to dread Monday mornings.

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