Why are you still working? You don’t have to!
Or: It’s great that you’re still working!
My answer to how I spend my days at 82, triggers these two reactions.
„I work, I never stopped.“ That’s the answer that triggers the astonishment.
So why am I doing this? After all, it seems worthy of a question and therefore an answer.
Usually, I answer, „I haven’t learned anything else!“
Now that I think about it, I come up with at least four good reasons:
– I enjoy my work.
– As long as I work, I have contact with everyday life and other people.
– If I can still provide a service that is in demand, it is a waste of resources not to do it.
– Working keeps my brain fit and my interest in new knowledge and developments alive! „If you don’t use it, you lose it!“
Of course, I know that I am among the privileged with this opportunity to work at my age. However, others, especially people who earned a living with hard physical work, cannot simply move on, even if they want to.
But I also know that many leave their working lives behind with relief because the work circumstances have driven the joy out of them, and I find that annoying!
Not caring that people like to go to work, even with joy, wastes energy and creativity when designing workplaces. Moreover, this destroys a large part of the investment in the workplace.
The design of working conditions can also be used to influence work enjoyment positively and thus also work output. And, of course, job satisfaction would also increase significantly, and more people would be able to say, similar to me, „I just enjoy their work!“
I am interested in what might be behind this disregard for joy.
– It occurs to me that the Nazis misused the term: „Strength through joy!“
– But I also think of the idea, native to our culture, that work is a punishment.
„With toil shalt thou … … all the days of thy life. … In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread…“ (Genesis 3. 17 ff)
Now we should get over that!
– Somewhat more modern is the idea that work should serve self-fulfilment. But, unfortunately, that doesn’t sound like much emphasis on pleasure, either.
What do you think about my thesis that life and work can and should bring pleasure? And that enjoyment of work is very performance-enhancing and thus economically friendly.