I’m generally pretty negative about work in my posts.  I don’t mean to imply that work has no value or that we shouldn’t take any enjoyment from our work.  In fact, I believe that if we don’t feel our job is important or take any joy or pride in our work, we will surely come to loathe it.  On the other hand, our job doesn’t have to take on some mythic aura of importance and significance.  For many people, it’s just a means to an end.

Wanna prove it?  Ask the people you know that work if they would do it for no money.  I bet the vast majority, if not virtually all, would not.  Why?  Because ultimately we work for a living, for money.  Not because we get satisfaction or we are contributing to the greater good.  We are trading our time for money to afford to take care of ourselves and our families.  Satisfaction, pride, accomplishments, if we experience those, are just icing.

Pretty sad actually.  I suppose its always been this way, though.  It might be romantic the imagine our forefathers worked for the love of it and made money as an afterthought, but I suspect they weren’t working in coal mines and sweatshops out of love for the work.  Few of us work at something we love, many don’t even like what they do.

Like our ancestors, we are all looking to get ahead and nowadays a lot of folks look forward to financial independence.  We all want it and so we work and, honestly, work is a good thing.  We produce stuff and serve others.  We make money and we turn around and spend it so others can earn a living selling us goods and providing services, not to mention folks like me that earned a living paid by tax dollars.  Our society depends on people working.  A healthy work ethic is a good thing.  But who says a work ethic must be tied to making money?

Lots of folks are busier and more productive in retirement than they were when they were working.  Many contribute more in retirement than they did making widgets or filing paper work.  More importantly we do it for ourselves.  We do what makes us happy without the need to worry about making money.  It doesn’t mean we can’t earn money, but we don’t have to.  We are free to take chances and risks, to a point, that those seeking a living cannot.  It’s the one of the best examples of the American dream I can think of.  People doing what they love doing and making life better for others.

For instance, I can write this blog without worrying about making money.  I do it for free because I enjoy it, but I know others get something from it.  I know because they tell me.  However, if I was doing this for a living, I couldn’t afford to fail.  Every post I wrote would be from the perspective that I must make you, the reader, happy.  I would censor myself, hoping not to offend or alienate readers.  I would write to please you so you would pay money to read this, not for myself

How many times at your job do you ignore common sense to follow procedure?  How many times do you do what you know is wrong to please the client?  How often do you fill out that form or file that paperwork, though you doubt it has any real purpose?  How many of us get to do our jobs the way we feel, maybe even know, is the right way?

I am negative about work because that is the time in your life you trade your time and effort for money.  It is not your time.  Retirement is your time.  It is a better time.  You can be who you’ve always wanted, do what you’ve always dreamed of, and do it all on your schedule.  You get to make the decisions and set the priorities and, honestly, it’s a lot of fun.

Work is important, but retirement is too.  Work is just a means to and end.  Ends like money, security and independence.  It’s a means to be able to retire and live life how you want.  So while work is important,  it pales in comparison to retirement.  That’s why I sound so negative when discussing work.  Honestly, next to retirement work sucks.