the joy of workingWhen I was a little girl I have many fond memories of my mother in the kitchen, she was and is a phenomenal cook and took great pleasure in making everything from a batch of brownies to a 4 course meal. Susan, who also blogs — about food no less — owned a well loved cookbook called The Joy of Cooking. I remember puzzling over this book as I grew older because — even though I was raised in a house where the kitchen was central — I despised cooking and couldn’t imagine how it could bring so many people such “joy”.

Today I understand my mother’s plight. Saddled with an ungrateful child who would eat her good food but turn her nose up at the idea of slaving over a meal for hours. I enjoyed the fruits, but didn’t respect the labor involved.

I now find myself in a similar situation with what I call The Joy of Working. We live in a world where people consume more than ever — services, products, experiences — but rail about “work life balance” and turn their nose up at people who live to work, versus working to live.

People are always asking me “well… what do you do besides work” and the question never fails to catch me off guard. I have to think about and usually mumble something like “Well I like to read, and write and I really enjoy a glass of wine… or four“.

I often get those “you poor thing” glances, but in reality the joke is on everyone else because I guarantee you I derive more pleasure from my work than most people do from their fun. I work on the weekends, I work at night, I lay in bed thinking about Zirtual and I always include my business and employees in my prayers. I have the same relationship to our company as many people have to their children and I don’t think it’s one bit unhealthy.

Work gives purpose

There are many things in our lives that give us purpose, family, love, building a legacy, making a difference, creating something out of nothing. In my mind the only kind of work worth doing is work that gives purpose.

For me I started out down the path to entrepreneurship because I didn’t want to be poor and I hated working for other people — freedom was and is something I hold very dear. Then I started to warm to the idea of going from not being poor, to becoming rich, and this seemed like the answer to all of my problems — because I assumed that if I was rich I’d be able to afford the freedom that lots of money buys and thus find happiness.

Now, after going from one person working out of a coffee shop to 25 people, a real office and a legitimate business I’ve realized that the thing that gives me the most fulfillment is creating jobs for others (our Zirtual Assistants) and helping busy people save their precious time. Money is much less of a motivator than it was when I wrote this blog post almost a year to the date. It’s not that I don’t believe that Zirtual will become a very large, very financially successful company — instead it’s that the getting rich side of things is now a cherry on the top of my goal, not the main purpose.

Provide purposeful employment

Over the last few years there has been a lot of talk about our faltering economy, the stagnant job market and the blanket of depression that it has cloaked my the globe in. People want purposeful employment, when they’re downsized, fired or can’t find work that gives them meaning it really messes with their psyches. I firmly believe that human beings are built to work towards goals, to endeavor in meaningful work and to gather a sense of community from their jobs.

So if you’re considering starting a business, consider building something that provides meaningful employment to those around you — not another photo-sharing app. I can tell you from first hand experience there are few things as rewarding in life. Knowing the people you work with not only enjoy their job, but it helps them live the life they want to, is pretty much the coolest feeling ever.

Meaningful work is one of the most important things we can impart to children. Meaningful work is work that is autonomous. Work that is complex, that occupies your mind. And work where there is a relationship between effort and reward — for everything you put in, you get something out…

If you are convinced that the work you are doing is meaningful, then curiosity, there’s no cost to it. If you think there’s always got to be a connection between what you put in and what you get out, then of course you’ll run off with a great excitement after an idea that catches your idea.” - Malcom Gladwell 

 

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  • http://vegasyum.com/ Susan

    The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible says:  ”There is nothing better for a man than to be happy and do good while he lives . . . and find satisfaction in all his toil.” 3:12,13.   
    Rest and recreation are important, but work gives a life meaning and direction.  Great Post Maren!

  • Diane

    Loved your article as well.  Looks like your persistence is paying off. Zirtual  is a great service to others, the more you serve, the more valuable you become!

  • http://opportunitiesproject.com Tracy Brisson

    Loved this post- it reflected feelings I’ve been experiencing into (great) words. I just finished the final financials for 2011 and my biggest pride was that through my business strategy, I was able to provide over six figures worth of work to really fantastic contractors. Successful entrepreneurs realize there is a community beyond their customers where they must provide value and sustainable businesses are bigger than the founder. That must be part of the purpose. 

  • ct

    Thank you – I’ve been asked that same question several times as well and always felt guilty that I should be having a secondary hobby besides starting a biz and coding when posed the question.  

    I think the phase you’re going through where instead of the goal being money, but instead a higher goal of helping others with money being just an extra plus are signs of you maturing as an entrepreneur.  

    There’s a high correlation with creating value for others and you’ll get what you’ll deserve.  But low correlation with just wanting money and then getting it.

    It’s great to see the changes and thought processes as you evolve.  And your posts have motivated me to keep up the fight as entrepreneurship is sometimes a hard lonely road.

  • http://www.zoealexanderuk.com/ Zoe Alexander

    Maren I couldn’t agree more with your philosophy on life and work. I am at the beginning of my adventure with my other half and we both embrace a 24/7 passion for our new maternity brand which in time is going to be a global phenomenom! We live breathe and eat our business and despite days of frustration, fatigue, mixed with exhilaration, excitement, nothing deters us from that desire to create a successful business and creates jobs for others in the process! It’s great to hear from like minded people! Thanks.

  • http://www.drfpalmer.com/ Gregory

    I despised cooking and couldn’t imagine how it could bring so many people such “joy”.

  • http://www.fightsexualharassment.com/  sexual harassment at job

    I always include my business and employees in my prayers. I have the
    same relationship to our company as many people have to their children
    and I don’t think it’s one bit unhealthy.

  • http://www.passdrugtestkit.com/ passdrugtestkit

    I despised cooking and couldn’t imagine how it could bring so many people such “joy”.

  • http://www.boston-limousine.net/ Harlan

    I despised cooking and couldn’t imagine how it could bring so many people such “joy”.

     

  • http://www.drteitelbaum.com/ Aaron

    People are always asking me “well… what do you do besides work” and
    the question never fails to catch me off guard. I have to think about
    and usually mumble something like “Well I like to read, and write and I
    really enjoy a glass of wine… or four“.
     

  • http://www.wholesaletrampolineparts.com/ Bryan

    I now find myself in a similar situation with what I call The Joy of Working. We
    live in a world where people consume more than ever — services,
    products, experiences — but rail about “work life balance” and turn
    their nose up at people who live to work, versus working to live.
     

  • Angelina Lawrence

    there are few things as rewarding in life. Knowing the people you work
    with not only enjoy their job, but it helps them live the life they want
    to, is pretty much the coolest feeling ever.

    http://hometownseeds.com

  • http://twitter.com/LaptopLifeLisa Lisa-Marie Cabrelli

    I love this post Maren! If you truly have a passionate connection to what the purpose of your work is you are set for life. I wake up in the morning for my family and my work – and of course a glass of wine or four.

  • Jamey Villanueva

    I firmly believe that human beings are built to work towards goals.

    http://www.columbusmovers.info

  • Bo Schaefer

    it helps them live the life they want to, is pretty much the coolest feeling ever.

    http://www.metropolitanlogistics.com

  • XGCQFXIOXE YURKCNUGHLHY

    Today I understand my mother’s plight. Saddled with an ungrateful
    child who would eat her good food but turn her nose up at the idea of
    slaving over a meal for hours. I enjoyed the fruits, but didn’t respect
    the labor involved.

    http://www.lifetrainers.net/

  • BJFTXEZSCY SZQGGTLUMLEX

    Today I understand my mother’s plight. Saddled with an ungrateful
    child who would eat her good food but turn her nose up at the idea of
    slaving over a meal for hours. I enjoyed the fruits, but didn’t respect
    the labor involved.

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  • http://liferapture.com Benjamin Spall

    This is great! I saw a video today that encapsulates the meaningful work idea that you describe pretty well: http://vimeo.com/44130258 (It’s not in Portuguese, and don’t let the ten minutes out you off, it’s good).

  • Latisha Schulz

    I firmly believe that human beings are built to work towards goals, to
    endeavor in meaningful work and to gather a sense of community from
    their jobs.

    http://www.kimberlyleemd.com/procedures2/rhinoplasty

  • Bo Schaefer

    nothing deters us from that desire to create a successful business and
    creates jobs for others in the process! It’s great to hear from like
    minded people! Thanks.

  • Cozy Thomas

    After working exclusively with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for three
    straight years, we’d imagine anyone would have a little pent up
    creative energy. Not that Microsoft Excel isn’t a non-stop thrill-ride but… you get what I’m saying.

    http://www.localfocus.ca/

  • Vallie Franz

    Today I understand my mother’s plight. Saddled with an ungrateful
    child who would eat her good food but turn her nose up at the idea of
    slaving over a meal for hours. I enjoyed the fruits, but didn’t respect
    the labor involved.

    http://www.localfocus.ca/

  • Sofia Seven

    I now find myself in a similar situation with what I call The Joy of Working. We
    live in a world where people consume more than ever — services,
    products, experiences — but rail about “work life balance” and turn
    their nose up at people who live to work, versus working to live.

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    I firmly believe that human beings are built to work towards goals, to
    endeavor in meaningful work and to gather a sense of community from
    their jobs.

    http://www.appster.com.au/

  • Bo Schaefer

    Today I understand my mother’s plight. Saddled with an ungrateful
    child who would eat her good food but turn her nose up at the idea of
    slaving over a meal for hours. I enjoyed the fruits, but didn’t respect
    the labor involved.

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    I have to think about and usually mumble something like “Well I like to read, and write and I really enjoy a glass of wine… or four“.

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    Today I understand my mother’s plight. Saddled with an ungrateful
    child who would eat her good food but turn her nose up at the idea of
    slaving over a meal for hours. I enjoyed the fruits, but didn’t respect
    the labor involved.

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    If you think there’s always got to be a connection between what you put
    in and what you get out, then of course you’ll run off with a great
    excitement after an idea that catches your idea.” – Malcom Gladwell

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