The Intersection of Work, Life, and Meaning

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 16, Issue No. 6a
October 1, 2017

By Dan Coughlin

Why do you do what you do for a living?

That’s the question I start most of my seminars with. If we’re not clear about why we do what we do for a living, then how will we be really engaged in the “what to achieve, what to do to achieve it, and how to get it all done in a timely fashion” parts?

So, seriously, why do you do what you do for a living?

Dig down. Stop being in constant motion and dig down into the question. If you work 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year for 40 years, that’s 80,000 hours. Who wants to put 80,000 hours into anything unless they know why they are doing it?

Once you clarify your purpose and know why you do what you do for a living, then set aside some time to think about how you can do what you do for a living even better.

I really encourage you to read a book called When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. It’s about how the author spent ten years studying very hard and for very long hours to become a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist. He describes working on patients with brain cancer. And then just before he graduates he contracts lung cancer.

It’s a very powerful book about a person who moved steadily forward with a purpose in his career, and then realized he had to make sure to save time for a purpose in his life outside of his work.

I think it’s a GREAT reminder that we need a purpose at work, and we need a purpose at home, and we need a purpose in our community. It takes time to clarify all of that in our minds. I encourage you to make the time to do that.