When I started as a perma here a few months ago I told a friend about it, and his first response was, “I bet that pays you well.” This is someone I like and respect a lot, and at the time I took it as light-hearted sarcasm and laughed along with him. But later I thought, was that disrespectful? Should I have felt insulted? I am not upset with this person, but in retrospect his quip has made me think about work. Both my intuition and Malcolm Gladwell have told me that happiness is connected to having meaningful work. From his book Outliers:
“Three things: autonomy, complexity and a connection between effort and reward are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between 9 and 5. It is whether our work fulfills us. … Work that fulfills those three criteria is meaningful.”
For me blogging does all three: it’s autonomous (I can write whenever I find time, about pretty much anything that interests me), there is complexity inherent to thinking and writing, and an effort to write something meaningful often comes with a reward of having a discussion in the comments. So yes, blogging pays me well. Other meaningful work I have is my mothering and service to others. Right now my paid employment is not very meaningful – I feel I’ve learned all I can in my current position and would like to find a new one with new challenges. So it turns out my work where the reward is money is my least meaningful work.
How does the meaningfulness of your work correlate with money? What is your most meaningful work?