A couple of months ago, my friend Rita asked me a question:
If you didn’t have to worry about money or job security, what would you do with your life?
My initial answer was that I would focus more on writing blogposts/articles and making music, but I would still continue working.
But then I thought about it some more, and I don’t think I would actually continue working (at least not on a full-time basis) if I didn’t have to worry about money or job security. I would rather spend my time writing about topics I find interesting, singing about things that are important to me, and travelling around the world!
This made me curious to hear other people’s opinions. I asked the same question to a couple of friends, and every single one responded that they would be doing something completely different if they didn’t have to worry about money or job security. Some would go into music, some would pursue their passion for football, while others would just sleep and eat every day!
If the responses of me and my friends represent that of a majority of people, I think that is quite sinister. Are we all really choosing certain career paths because we want money, and not because we are passionate about them? Even worse, is our desire for money stopping us from pursuing the things we are truly passionate about?
When we choose a career path, we want to believe that we are doing it because we are passionate about it. I find my job interesting, but the realisation that I probably would not be doing this work if I didn’t have to worry about money or job security makes me feel different.
I think this is related to a point I came across in Appiah’s book, The Lies That Bind, where he said that society offers rewards for the skills it considers important. So if you need doctors in your society because otherwise people would die, you offer very attractive pay for doctors. And in our desire for these monetary rewards we convince ourselves into thinking that we want to follow these career paths.
But there is something very unsettling about thinking that money is the primary motive for a lot of our actions. The career path you choose determines a lot of other things you do in your life. It’s like you look at how much money lawyers, or doctors, or bankers make. You see the kind of lifestyle they live, and you say to yourself, ‘I want to be like that’. Then you find out more about the profession and subconsciously convince yourself that you are passionate about it.
Or let’s say your passion for the profession even precedes your knowledge about how much people in that profession make. Would you still throw yourself fully into that career and work for 8-10 hours five days a week until you retire, if you didn’t have to worry about money? A lot of people wouldn’t.
Of course, I am not saying that these are the only ways to make money. I am acutely aware that many unconventional jobs like music, photography, and social media marketing have the potential to pay even more than conventional jobs. But of course, these jobs are less stable, which is why many people prefer to throw themselves into conventional jobs, and even if they want to do unconventional jobs, they usually do them on the side. So I am curious about whether anyone would even be doing these conventional jobs on a full-time basis if they didn’t have to worry about money or job security.
Would you continue working a 9-5 even if you didn’t have to worry about money at all? Let me know in the comment section!
Note: In this post, “working” means being employed in a conventional 9-5 job. It does not include self-employment in the form of starting a business, being a freelancer, making investments, and so on.
More in this series on class inequality:
- An Analysis of the Rooster Coop in “The White Tiger”
- “You Don’t Talk When Elders are Talking”: Exploring Power Distance in Nigerian Society
- Hard Work vs Smart Work: A Modern Interpretation of the Tortoise and the Hare
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