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Does your work have real meaning and value?
Or is it just about making money?...
hairycoo




msg:4164656
 11:36 am on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've started out in online marketing with a hobby website. Then realised that I can make money with it. I've continued doing that for a while with different websites on different topics I was interested in at the time. I had a real drive to do that.

The drive is now gone and my work feels meaningless even though it pays exceptionally well. All my needs are met except for my thirst for purpose and meaning.

As a result, I feel that I don't deserve all the things I could do/buy with the money that I earn, or the freedom that this job gives me because I feel that I'm not working hard enough (and by that I mean with enough meaning).

Maybe I should give away all my savings to charity and shut down all my websites and start fresh... but that seems a bit radical... or downright crazy!

I'm wondering whether other webmasters ask themselves such philosophical questions and how/if they found meaning in their work.

 

Mark_A




msg:4164660
 11:45 am on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some of the happiest workers are hair dressers, just doing an honest days work and chatting to customers as they do it.

briggidere




msg:4164677
 12:29 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'll give you a nice thank you card to hand over the websites and i'll give them some drive ;-)

Would that make it more meaningful for you?

hairycoo




msg:4164683
 12:41 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Would that make it more meaningful for you?


If only I knew exactly what I mean by meaningful.... I suppose knowing I make a real contribution to people's lives and hobby/travel/buyer's guide type websites feel quite trivial in that context.

The trouble is they pay the bills quite nicely so my sensible/responsible side of me tells me to keep them going for this reason!

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4164685
 12:43 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I was forced to start working for myself through redundancy back in 2001 when I was almost 53 years old. I struggled for a couple of years then got established doing what I am doing now (web design and software sales). I am now 61 and I do not earn massive amounts of money but I am more financially secure than I have ever been.

I have no problems with this because I did it all on my own and I am really quite chuffed about. I work from home, take my holidays when I want them and spend much more time with ny grandchildren than I would have been able to do if I was still working for the man. For the most part I am very happy doing what I am doing and taking the recompense. ;)

weeks




msg:4164754
 2:14 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

We don't get to ask what the meaning of life is. Instead, it's our job to answer that question.

Understand that the quest for meaning, for making a contribution, can be part of what makes a meaningful life.

And, for me, a meaningful life has lots of parts. Finding your place in the economy is one part. Finding the right place in your family is another, even if that place is outside of the family.

You're never finished. It changes. As you get older, your role might change. And the world, life itself, changes.

Keep looking. Keep reading. Take risks, but don't be afraid of saying, "This was a mistake." or "I was wrong."

Then, of course, there is always drinking lots of beer.

Mark_A




msg:4164758
 2:24 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google Maslow's Hierarchy of needs...

[bing.com...]

Done it for you..

It might explain what is going on :-)

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4164762
 2:25 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

The first site I ever made was educational, and ended up having more man hours of people reading it than I'll likely ever live.

Now, I'm more interested in money (for the medium term). Financial stability and providing for others is the most meaningful it'll ever get.

However, if I ever end up comfortable, financially, I'd like to get involved in renewables, either selling physical products or spreading the word... which I'd consider highly meaningful in today's world.

Mark_A




msg:4164767
 2:30 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have been in the position of having to struggle to get food on the table and keep a roof over my head, in those circs, if a job pays money it is a good job.

Now I am still stuggling a bit on food, clothing and a roof, but I am also going for higher things, a sense of satisfaction, a feeling of self actualisation.

You really should google Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs! :-)

hairycoo




msg:4164781
 3:03 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks everyone. I learned about Maslow and his pyramid of needs in school, I think I need to revisit it :).

We don't get to ask what the meaning of life is. Instead, it's our job to answer that question.


weeks, have you by any chance read viktor frankl?

buckworks




msg:4164815
 3:57 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

give away all my savings to charity and shut down all my websites and start fresh... but that seems a bit radical... or downright crazy!


Crazy on some levels, maybe not on others. The spiritual concerns you're expressing are very real and need to be taken seriously.

However, if having money in the bank kills your sense of purpose, it's not the money that's the problem, there's something internal that needs work. You could certainly put yourself in a situation that brings back the purpose of merely working for survival, but surely you can aim for something higher?

Don't be too quick to decide that "chucking it all" is the best way forward. It is certainly one path to consider, but think long and hard ... including serious prayer ... before disposing of assets that might enable you to make a real difference in the world.

Ponder this: the job of managing your websites might be short on inspiration these days but on the other hand it gives you a rare opportunity to do meaningful, valuable things with your earnings and with the free time you have.

Suggestion: For the next year, keep the websites going and keep the income going but pick one or two charities who are doing work that you believe in, and give enough to make a real difference to some aspect of their work. Don't just write checks and stay otherwise uninvolved, look for ways that you could give time, too.

I feel that I don't deserve all the things I could do/buy


If you've earned your money honestly, you have the right to enjoy it without guilt!

That said, you've clearly reached the point where it becomes unsatisfying to spend only in self-centered ways. Also, as a purely practical matter there's only so much stuff we need ... or can find storage for!

So look outward.

Treat yourself to an occasional luxury if something truly appeals to you, but also make a new rule for yourself that when you buy something above your basic needs, you will match the price dollar for dollar with a donation to help others less fortunate.

Think of it as a variation on the ancient principle of the tithe.

Along the way, have some in-depth discussions with a trusted spiritual advisor. Then re-assess your sense of direction a few months from now. Life might have some surprises in store!

caribguy




msg:4164901
 6:56 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Which steps did you take since the last time you brought up this question? Did any of them bring you any satisfaction?

I remember reading this thread: [webmasterworld.com...] and was hoping to read a success story follow up :)

The drive is now gone and my work feels meaningless

In your position, I would probably think about teaching my skills to a younger generation. Hire a young and brilliant apprentice, get trainees who are bright and motivated, establish new personal and community relationships, etc...

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4164907
 7:23 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

You could take on my grandson. ;)
[webmasterworld.com...]

Jane_Doe




msg:4164924
 8:00 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some of my sites just make money, but some are designed to help people with certain types of issues. I have received thousands of really nice thank you emails from readers over the years. Some have been so touching I couldn't stop crying reading them.

These sites also make a decent income, so all in all it is a pretty cool job.

Maybe you need to find something to make sites on in a more personally rewarding field like public service, self help, education, green energy, or organic living sector? There are lots of topics to make sites on that help people solve problems or help the environment that can also make money.

[edited by: Jane_Doe at 8:49 pm (utc) on Jul 5, 2010]

Hoople




msg:4164926
 8:26 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have two seasonal sites made for a non-profit historical preservation group. When I get a site improvement suggestion from them I jump on it like my life depends on it. I get/take *zero* from them, not even the domain fees! I would probably refuse is they tried.

I keep at my core commercial sites and for a few update them daily. I ignore my second ever built site ('98). It's 'webcam theme' has come and gone. I now only use it's PR4 homepage as a inbound link source.

weeks




msg:4164971
 10:35 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Right, Viktor Frankl is who I got "don't ask, answer" from.

His tiny book is very difficult to read for some people.

buckworks touching on guilt is wise. Make certain you're not suffering from some displaced guilt. And most guilt is misplaced.

weeks




msg:4164973
 10:38 pm on Jul 5, 2010 (gmt 0)

Maslow can be misleading and confusing. People are not really wired that way, his approach has more or less been discredited over the years.

Money is a good example of how Maslow doesn't work. When someone is talking about money, or thinking about money, where on his scale is money placed?

It's a trick question. Answer is: everywhere. From the base needs to feeding our ego, money hits it all. So, Maslow isn't going to take you very far. (But, it's useful in making that point.)

When an employee asks you for a raise, what's going on? Answer: Don't assume. Listen and find out. They might need to eat better, but they might just need an ego boost.

callivert




msg:4165006
 12:51 am on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Two thoughts. First, work is survival, just as our ancestors hunted for survival. Maybe they asked each other what the meaning of all this hunting was, as they padded along the savannah looking for prey. I'd like to think that they did. But work is necessary, and it is noble. It's not just about medical research and soup kitchens either. I respect people who fill a niche in society, who contribute to the great tapestry, whatever that niche is, whether it's a taxi driver or a farm laborer.
Second, our purpose from a genetic point of view is literally to have kids. Do that, and there's a good chance that your life will be flooded with meaning.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4165113
 7:50 am on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am involved in a not for profit (i.e. no income!) local history project. We are building a great resource website that offers massive amounts of information on our local area. My colleague in this project retired about five years ago after making a pile and he now spends much of his time researching the information for our website. We get great feedback form all over the world.

I also do the website for two clubs that where I am a member. Wehn I have time I work on these and that gives me a lot of satisfaction. I believe that these websites add to our community. You could try doing something like that?

I watched a documentary on telivision on Sunday night about a lady from NZ who lives in Fiji. She retired after making a lot of money building furniture for Ikea in her own factory. She has now taken on the full time care of three young people with mental and physical and is working towards raising money to build a refuge for other similar kids.

She probably works harder now than she ever did but it was obvious from watching and listening to her that she really loves what she is doing. What she is doing is perhaps a bit extreme but I think doing any kind of worthwhile charity work would be good for you.

Mark_A




msg:4165123
 8:06 am on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

weeks: Maslow can be misleading and confusing. People are not really wired that way, his approach has more or less been discredited over the years.


Oh I disagree. The OP hairycoo has got the basics covered, food clothing shelter and also got some of the higher requirements covered and now is seeking a meaning for it all, it fits the Hierarchy of needs very well. You only seek meaning (self actualisation) when you have the basics covered.

hairycoo




msg:4165129
 8:32 am on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

buckworks, thanks for those words of wisdom. Getting rid of the guilt is hard to do :(. I feel guilty that this is so easy and yet I don't work hard enough. I also feel guilty for thinking of allocating significant time to doing something non-profit when the sensible/responsible side of my brain tells me to keep working solidly on my current projects (which allow me to save a fair bit) as insurance in case they go belly up at some point (I'm not swimming in money and while I make a very comfortable living now, there's no guarantee that I will continue to do so say in 6 months' time). There's a war in my head between these two voices and no one is winning!

Second, our purpose from a genetic point of view is literally to have kids.


What if I don't want to have kids? Also, having kids to fill a void in my life sounds more of a fix than a real solution.

Which steps did you take since the last time you brought up this question? Did any of them bring you any satisfaction?


caribguy, I've done more thinking than doing since I first raised the question, unfortunately, but over the last few months I went on a career progression course which provided me with lots of food for thought and I've also realised that what I need to do first is realise/find what my purpose in life is and then find a project that is aligned to that purpose rather than try new things for the sake of trying something new!

I've recently also volunteered with a local social enterprise for 1 day a week but it's very early days and while I'm excited about it, it's going quite slow for various reasons and that affects any momentum that I feel at a given time (one of the benefits of working alone is that you can keep going if you're excited and don't have to wait for feedback from others).

All I want is to come back from work exhausted but happy and fulfilled!

hairycoo




msg:4165130
 8:39 am on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

You only seek meaning (self actualisation) when you have the basics covered.


Mark_A, that's spot on. That's what I feel. I've been operating out of a context of need thus far and now that context is proving to be limiting.

Currently my needs are more or less met though the conflict is born from the idea of 'should I keep doing what I'm doing to make sure my needs are met for the long-term future' and 'I'd like to do something non-profit that has real meaning'.

And while there are so many worthwhile causes, I would need to find something that genuinely speaks to me and gets me fired up.

jecasc




msg:4165138
 9:20 am on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Why don't you use the money your work generates to do something meaningful in your free time?

If your work allows you to do something good - that is not such a bad thing. However do not simply give the money away, do something meaningful with it yourself, for example in your local community. There is nothing better for self esteem when you actually see what has been done with your money.

If however the work you do consumes all of your time and is meaningless, than you should consider to move on to something else.

idolw




msg:4165142
 9:57 am on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

My work generates 2 good things:
- money for me
- happiness stemming from doing what I like.

The latter spreads onto people around me. ;-)

Jane_Doe




msg:4165266
 4:39 pm on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Second, our purpose from a genetic point of view is literally to have kids. Do that, and there's a good chance that your life will be flooded with meaning.


According to the book Stumbling on Happiness, studies show that people without kids (no matter what the age, even adult kids) are actually the happiest.

Jane_Doe




msg:4165273
 4:45 pm on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

And while there are so many worthwhile causes, I would need to find something that genuinely speaks to me and gets me fired up.


Are you maybe just bored? What do you do outside of work, any sports, hobbies, clubs, church, civic or social groups?

Added: Sorry, just read the part about volunteering one day a week. But what else do you do? Maybe 3 or 4 clubs or groups would keep you more involved in purposes other than work.

hairycoo




msg:4165293
 5:11 pm on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I actually have a very rich social life where I spend time with my friends and also get to meet new people regularly. I play badminton, go swimming, I do some photography.

While I am very happy with my life out of work, it's not filling up the void I feel in my working life. And strange as it sounds, I would enjoy my life out of work more if I felt my working day had more meaning.

caribguy




msg:4165366
 7:08 pm on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

if I felt my working day had more meaning


The fact that you are able to consider this type of philosophical questions makes you very privileged compared to most 'working' people.

Maybe it comes down to your (re)definition of meaning?

hobby/travel/buyer's guide type websites feel quite trivial


Why? Real people go to those websites and feel the need for what you have to offer... Apparently that is what you are good at. If you are passionate (or were passionate when you started out) about those subjects and enjoy doing it, your sites are making a positive contribution to those people's lives. Nothing trivial about it. Not all of us can be Gandhi.

I personally like idolw's very pragmatic approach: do what you enjoy and spread your happiness onto others. i.e. use the work as a tool to achieve happiness (for you and others), not as an end in itself.

Outside of work, you could grind your teeth on idealism if you'd feel inclined to. As part of the topics that your websites cover, you could find additional angles that might help to give meaning or let your sites contribute to something that is positive. Start with simple and practical things.

Again: define meaningful first and don't be too hard on yourself :)

HRoth




msg:4165422
 9:10 pm on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

You can use the money you are making from this boring work to create a business you enjoy. That's what I did. I was a ghostwriter for six years. For the first three years it was okay because I made good money. But I was bored and I knew I would get more bored as time went on. So I created a business selling something I knew I would never get bored of because it was a longtime hobby. For three more years I kept at the ghostwriting and the new biz until the latter could stand on its own two feet. Seven years ago I quit the ghostwriting with a happy sigh of relief. I make way less money now, but my work is very satisfying and IMO, meaningful.

If you want a really radical perspective, a book I read recently and enjoyed a lot is Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture. It's not about housework. It's about recentering your life so that what becomes important is time/experience and satisfaction instead of money and stuff. Might give you some ideas.

callivert




msg:4165446
 10:00 pm on Jul 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

According to the book Stumbling on Happiness, studies show that people without kids (no matter what the age, even adult kids) are actually the happiest.

Researchers do find those differences on a 10 point happiness scale but they're small marginal effects. But also, happiness and meaning/fulfilment aren't exactly the same.

This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 ( [1] 2 > >
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