“It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It’s whether our work fulfills us. If I offered you a choice between being an architect for $75,000 a year and working in a tollbooth every day for the rest of your life for $100,000 a year, which would you take? I’m guessing the former, because there is complexity, autonomy, and a relationship between effort and reward in doing creative work, and that’s worth more to most of us than money.”
-Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers
Malcolm Gladwell’s books are changing the way I view success. This quote in particular reaffirms something I have known to be true for some time now. Work that is easy and pays well but is meaningless creates misery. That’s why I’m so willing to work my tail off as a yoga teacher and a writer — these things are meaningful to me.
When I finish teaching a yoga class, the students look calm, happy, sometimes even radiant. They say “thank you,” and they mean it. It’s truly rewarding.
When I finish writing a poem or essay, my brain feels a sort of happy exhaustion not too different from a post-orgasmic glow.
For a long time, I thought that working hard should be enough. I always heard that hard work could be satisfying, and in some ways it was. I was proud to say I’d been handed a series of seemingly impossible tasks and completed them with flying colors. But I still didn’t feel fulfilled by the work. Choosing to do the work that is meaningful to me was a major turning point.
My wish for you as we begin 2013 together is that you find meaning, joy, challenge, and inspiration. That you will do the work of your dreams and be radiant.