We are truly on the cusp of something very exciting: boundaries between work, travel and our personal lives are blurring so as to be almost non-existent. Skilled people have the opportunity of fulfilling their life dreams from virtually anywhere in the world. If you are focusing your energies on work you are passionate about, the drudgery disappears leaving you wanting to accomplish as much as possible in the short time you have on this planet.
What it Means to Work
For most people, who are not engaged in meaningful employment of their own design and choosing, these ideas may be difficult to grasp or perhaps even seem incredulous. The old industrial age mentality still predominates where unions and government must protect workers from evil, exploiting enterprises. In most developing countries, workers feel it is their right to demand high paying employment. This was especially true prior to the recession where the shortage of workers around the world drove up wages and gave employees unprecedented bargaining power. In booming cities like my hometown of Calgary, companies were forced to pay exorbitant wages and offer generous sign up bonuses just to attract workers. When jobs are plentiful, workers’ inflated egos dominated and a rock star mentality emerged where companies couldn’t rely on workers even to show up to work, never mind actually having a productive day.
It saddens me to see the corrupted values of workers who were brought up in a time of immediate gratification and insatiable wants. Work and business shouldn’t be something to avoid and dread. Work takes such a huge portion of our adult lives that it is too bad that most people waste all of those hours and years doing something they hate, at levels much lower than they are capable of. Our work is the primary vehicle to express who we are and make a contribution to the world around us. Work shouldn’t have such negative connotations. If you don’t truly enjoy what you are doing, you owe it to yourself, your family and mankind to start working on things that excite you.
With the state of technology, it is completely feasible to work anywhere with internet access. Most companies offer flexible time and work-at-home options. The rules of work have changed and will continue to change. Expect much more flexible hours, options for shorter work weeks, more freelancing opportunities and more chances for sabbaticals and other learning time. We are not in the industrial age anymore.
It is not all fun.
Work isn’t and shouldn’t always be fun and interesting. Even rock stars get sick of getting on another stage and playing the same songs to a different crowd in a new city. That is the price of doing great things. Don’t expect your career to offer you endless happiness and eternal bliss. That is not what it is for. Work is to trade your time for money, which in-turn allows you to purchase the product of someone else’s time. We are all trading our own output with other citizens on this planet. Fundamentally, it is not much different than ancient hunter gatherers, we have just made it a little more complicated. The more productive you are at work, the more value you create for others. Just common courtesy, honesty and a smile would go a long way to adding to the lives of people around you. What happened to civility in Western countries?
End of the Nation State
Living abroad in Japan for the last decade has really opened my eyes to the limited world view that any single country offers. No matter what country you are from, your culture and ideas only comprise a minute fraction of what the world has to offer. Experience the world, you will be better for it.
It is not only the personal development aspects of travel that are important. National boundaries are beginning to make less sense in a globally interconnected world. When you are hiring Eastern European web developers, buying goods from China and having your taxes done in India, the limitations imposed by your country and government only disrupt the natural connectedness of the world. Why can’t I download songs from anywhere in the world? Why are visas still so difficult to arrange in many parts of the world? Why are developed countries still so racist against the immigrants vital to future growth? Stop identifying yourself with a particular country, join humanity and become a Jet Set Citizen.
The distinctions between work, play and travel are disappearing. We are all humans interacting with other humans, with the same hours in a day and same days in week. Your personal life doesn’t stop when you are at work and you don’t stop thinking about the job after hours. We need to stop compartmentalizing our lives and focus on what it means to be human. Don’t live for work, but at the same time strive to improve the lives of those around you. Work is the primary means of contribution for all of us.