For most of us, work is a necessity. We need to earn money to provide shelter and sustenance (and allow our next HBO box set of course). Money makes the world go 'round, and without it we are stymied. No money means no choice. No choice means no fun. And no fun means a very dull life indeed.
The work "trap" isn't only about money. Our ambitions, our goals, our own sense of identity are also shackled by the chains of work.
On average, we only have 27,350 days on this planet. And 10,575 of those are working days. If those days are spent doing something you don't love with people you don't like and/or in an environment that depresses you, it's a terrible waste of life and how can you become the hero of your own life when you're renting yourself out for at least 10 hours a day?
Work is like a drug to us. It feeds us little hits of success, friendship, growth, power, recognition -- all of which feel amazing. Before we know it we want a bit more. We might all be different in our susceptibility to work's seductions, but none of us is immune.
It's not all bad news, though. Work is also good for us. It satisfies many of our basic needs by giving us meaning and purpose. It helps us to live the lives that we choose. It helps us grow and connect with others. However, as with a drug addiction, our consumption of work can easily turn to addiction.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows that Americans feel worse about their jobs and their work environment today than ever before. They estimate that the cost of America's "disengagement crisis" at $300 billion a year: 71 percent of Americans work during vacation. Only 38 percent take their holiday allowance while 30 percent don't even take a lunch break and 48 percent believe that their lives have become more stressful over the last five years. I'd expect to find a similar pattern in most developed nations.
Work is becoming less fun and more painful than it should be and I believe that something is out of balance. If we're not careful, work can take away our "shine," resulting in us living a little less brightly every day.
But we can't blame our problems with work on work itself because "work" as an entity doesn't exist. It has no consciousness. Work is what we do and it is so much a part of what we are.
We have to look at ourselves. We need to change our relationship with work so that we can feel fulfilled, engaged and downright magnificent. With the summer holiday happening, I would urge you to take time when you're relaxing to consider the relationship you have with your work and come back with the intention of making some changes. That's what being free is all about.
Free! Love Your Work, Love Your Life by Chris Baréz-Brown is available now on Amazon and in other high street book shops.