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      March 28, 2003


"Don't look for a permanent solution
 to a temporary problem."

 -- Harley Hahn

In Praise of Work

When you were young and living at home, what was
your attitude towards work?

If you were like me, most of the enjoyment you
remember came during the times when you were
*not* working.  Although I liked going to
school, the times I enjoyed the most were weekends
and summer vacations, when I was free to do
whatever I wanted to do to have fun.

As I grew older, my attitude towards work evolved.
The change was subtle and it came slowly, but it
was unmistakable.  By the time I became an adult,
I found that I got much more pleasure out of
working than I did out of recreation.  To be sure,
I still liked having fun: spending time with
friends, playing music, hiking, reading, painting,
and so on.  However, as I got older, I found that
my work took on new meaning and became much more
important to me than when I was young.

Most of us, of course, don't have a choice, we
have to work.  We need money to support ourselves
and our families.  But as adults, work means a lot
more than a paycheck.  The purposeful effort with
which we fill our waking hours defines much of who
we are and underscores our place in the world.

I am lucky in that I love my work.  Although what
I do is difficult, it is stimulating, rewarding
and enjoyable.  Indeed, most mornings, I can't
wait to get out of bed so I can start working.

I realize that not everyone feels the way I do.
Many people look upon work as a burden.  Such
people say that they work only because they need
to.  However, this attitude is not as common as
you might think, especially among well-educated
people.  If you look closely at peoples' lives,
you will see that most of them like their work a
lot more than they admit.

The reason for this disparity is that in our
culture, it is customary for people to pretend
that they don't like to work.  The prevailing
attitude seems to be, "I work only because I have
to, and I don't enjoy it.  One day, however, I'll
retire, and then I'll do what I *really*

The plain fact, however, is that the bulk of
people who have been able to choose their own
jobs are fascinated by what they do, and would be
hard pressed to find a better way to spend their
waking hours.

Feeling this way about your work is a wonderful
blessing for three reasons.  First, when your work
is a joy and not a burden, your hours are filled
with satisfaction, rather than resentment.  You
become engrossed in your work, and the hours fly
by.  Of course, no feels like this every minute of
every day, but for the most part, when you enjoy
what you do, your biggest complaint is that there
aren't more hours in the day to do what you love.

The second blessing that comes from loving your
work is that it greatly increases the chance that
you will become successful.  In fact, unless you
love your work, there is very little chance that
you will do well at all.

Why?  Because real success takes a lot of time and
lot of persistence.  It also takes skill,
experience and luck.  When you love your work, you
will stick to it for years, day after day, through
good times and bad.  This means that when luck
comes your way -- as it does for everyone once in
a while -- you will have the skill and the
experience to take advantage of the opportunities.

Finally, there is a third reason why your choice
of work is so important.  We all know that there
is no guarantee of financial success in this
world, no sure-fire plan that leads to wealth.
However, when you spend your time doing the type
of work that suits you, you will have at least
guaranteed that -- whether you get rich or not --
you will have spent your days doing what you love.
This will infuse your life with a satisfying sense
of well-being and fulfillment, a feeling that you
cannot get in any other way.

So what type of work should you do, and how do you
go about making it happen?  I get mail from all
over the world, and these are some of the most
common questions that I am asked.

I can't give you an exact answer, because the
choice of work is something you must make for
yourself.  What I can tell you is that, although
it is an important choice, it is not one you need
to make quickly.  If you are young and you don't
have a strong sense of direction, don't worry.
Take your time, try different things, and be open
to possibilities.  We all have preconceived
notions about life, but if you can learn how to be
flexible and open-minded when it comes to work,
you will have a much better chance of finding what
you love.

To help you get started, I have two essays on my
Web site that you may find interesting.  The first
one, called "How to Get Rich", touches on the
topics we have been discussing here:


The second essay, "The Secret of My Success",
discusses an idea that I guarantee will help you
become successful, no matter what you do in life:


The type of work you do is very important to your
long-term happiness: much more so, for instance,
than how much money you earn. Regardless of your
age, regardless of your position in life, I want
you feel that you do have a choice.

-- Harley Hahn