The pandemic caused people to reevaluate many aspects of their lives and what was truly important.
And one area that seemed to be impacted more that others was that of work.
People started to ask themselves why they were putting so of their energy and time into their jobs. And at the end of the day, many people started to question the importance of a job in the first place.
To that end, this article is going to unpack the question of what is the importance of a job, why having a job matters, and other related questions around jobs and work.
Let’s dive in.
- 1 Importance of a Job: Why Does It Matter?
- 2 Is a Job The Most Important Thing In Life?
- 3 Why Is Work Important In Our Lives?
- 4 How Does Work Give Meaning To Life?
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 Conclusion
Importance of a Job: Why Does It Matter?
There are a variety of reasons why having a job is important in our lives.
Here are a few of the key reasons that highlight the importance of a job:
A Job Provides Income
The most common reason that people get a job in the first place is the fact that it provides income.
A job is important because it is the most common source of primary income for people.
And earning a good income is essential to meeting your needs and living a stable, healthy life.
A Job Is a Place Where You Can Make a Productive Contribution
Working a job is also probably the most common way that people make a productive contribution to society.
By producing something that is good and helpful to people, you are contributing in a positive way to society.
Additionally, by earning an income, you are taking care of your own needs and being self sufficient, rather than relying upon third parties or the government to fund your life.
So, a job is a common way to look after yourself and your family while producing something good for society.
A Job is a Place Where You Can Grow
Lastly, a good job offers personal and professional growth.
A job can challenge you in positive ways, pushing your social skills, planning skills, and the ability to do your craft well. It can help to keep you sharp and at your best.
Additionally, it’s a context that gives you something to strive for. If you want to be the best in your field, you can work to be excellent at your job and increasingly grow the impact of what you’re doing within your career.
Is a Job The Most Important Thing In Life?
In my view, a good job is an important component of an overall healthy life but it’s far from the most important thing.
To me, the following things make up a good life:
- Meaningful work
- Positive relationships with friends and family
- Good physical and mental health
- Quality of character
- Stability/meeting your basic needs
All of those things need to work in balance to live a good life.
And if you make your job the most important thing, or focus on your job at the neglect of the areas, I think many people find it doesn’t result in the type of life that they would ideally like to live.
Why Is Work Important In Our Lives?
Previously, I talked about the importance of a job.
Now, I want to draw a distinction between a job and work.
My favorite definition of work is from the philosopher Dallas Willard, who defines work as “the energy that we put forth to produce good”.
When looking at work through that lens, there are some things that jump out.
First, work does not necessarily mean a job. Work is the context through which you produce good. So work for you could be a job. But your work could also be raising your kids. It could be serving your community. It could be writing.
Whatever it may be, work means more than just a job.
Secondly, for whatever your work is, it is a vehicle through which you’re producing good. And I think at some level we all want to be producing good in our lives.
So, why is work important? It’s important because I believe that we all want to produce something of value and significance in our lives. And our work is the way that we do that.
How Does Work Give Meaning To Life?
Work gives meaning to life because, if we find the right work, it can be a vehicle to producing good in a way that brings us to life.
What I mean by that is if you can find your best fit work, it tends to be work that you are excited to do. It’s something that you enjoy intrinsically and maybe even do on your own without a motivation just to earn an income.
And it also gives meaning because work is a vehicle to produce good. And producing good tends to lead to a feeling of positive meaning and contribution.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s The Point of Working Hard?
The point of working hard is to maximize the amount of good that you produce with your work.
Now, there are some caveats to that. In a recent newsletter, the career writer Paul Millerd discusses the fact that, historically, the income of executives and employees grew at a similar rate. To that end, there was a feeling of us being all in this together and that everyone would benefit from hard work.
However, at some point in the 70s or 80s, executive income growth started to massively outpace that of the typical employee. Between an increasing gap in income, and the emergence of layoffs, many employees started to realize that they wouldn’t directly benefit from their hard work to the extent that they used to.
People began to recognize that executives and shareholders get more of the upside.
My point is mentioning that story is that if your goal is to work hard just to make as much money as you can and grow on the default career path as quickly as possible, the direct benefit of doing so may be more limited than it has been in the past.
However, if you have found your best fit work, and you’re doing work that you enjoy, provides an income, and produces good, then working hard can maximize the extent to which you’re making a positive contribution that you enjoy.
Does Hard Work Lead to Success?
Hard work doesn’t necessarily lead to success, but it can accelerate the process of being successful and increase the likelihood that you will be a success.
The caveat though is that hard work is only an accelerant if you’re doing the right work.
If you’re putting in lots of hours on the wrong activities that ultimately aren’t going to result in the type of outcome that you want in your work and life, then no amount of hard work is going to result in the type of success you want.
The key is knowing what success looks like for you, knowing what activities lead to those success, and then working hard at those.
To learn more, take a look at our complete article unpacking whether or not hard work is the key to success.
Is It Normal Not to Want to Work?
Yes, it is normal not to want to work. In fact a 2014 study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor stated that 85.9 millions adults, or 93.3% of all adults not in the labor force, didn’t want a job.
Additionally, a record 47.4 million people voluntarily quit their jobs during the Great Resignation in 2021, showing that millions of people were not satisfied with their current work situation.
Again, that looks at work through the context of a traditional job. And, as we’ve discussed, looking at work at just a job is a bit limiting.
However, what we’re seeing is that many people are rejecting the restraints of a traditional job and work structure in favor of something that better fits their overall life and the contribution that they want to make.
For recommendations on what to do if you simply don’t want to work, take a look at our dedicated article on the topic.
There are a variety of reasons why having a job is important.
A job provides income, contribution, and growth, all of which are important to a healthy life.
However, what’s more important is discovering your best fit work.
And if you can find work like that, where it bring you to life and it feels like you’re producing good, then work can be an extremely healthy and positive source of meaning.