Story and Why
How to Tell
Five W's of Work
An article by Tom Gilbert
- copyright © September 5, 2017
Most of us work. We labor at a job and we hope our paycheck will cover our expenses.
But I've found that it really is important to work to live, rather than
the other way around - live to work. If you are not sure what that
means, I am repeating some age old wisdom that we need to have a full
and meaningful life and if we have to work, hopefully whatever we do
contributes to that life. You don't want to work in a dead-end job that
you hate and that doesn't fulfill you. Even if it fills your bank
With that in mind, let's consider what meaningful work entails. I like using the 5 W's as a guide. That's right, the who, what, where, when and why.
Who Do You Work For and With
you are fortunate you get to work with inspiring people and if you have
to work for a company or organization with structured management I hope
they inspire and motivate.
Nobody likes being micro-managed or not respected for their talents and efforts.
Co-workers can create drama or issues. Teamwork is important, but not
everybody is a team player. Look for work that allows for good
I also think it is important to do work you believe in. I have found
that is really important in my teaching career. Teaching is really
hard, often frustrating, and frequently underappreciated. But it is
such important work. I get to be around young people and we all learn
about life, develop skills, discover new knowledge and get endlessly
surprised. It makes it worth it.
What is the Work?
Are you building houses? Working in the medical field? Dealing with financial matters? Selling cars? Raising children?
There are all kinds of jobs and all kinds of work. Find out what you
are interested in and what you are good at. Go do that work. It might
not pay what you want or need, but in the long run doing the work you
love makes a huge difference.
I worked for many years in the radio broadcasting business. It was
really fun! And I enjoyed playing music for listeners and talking about
the songs and life.
Later I discovered that the stories people have are fascinating and
really important to preserve. I like to write and so being able to
interview people about their lives and then write the stories is
appealing, albeit hard, work.
I also found out that teaching others is something I am good at and
that I like to do. Hence the entry into the world of education some
seven years ago.
Life story (personal history) work and teaching both don't pay enough
to meet my expenses, but I do it because I believe in the value of the
work. Maybe I am called to it. I supplement my income by doing others
kinds of work that I am good at and help to make ends meet. This
additional work is a sacrifice of my time, but I do it so I can keep
doing the work that I love. You do what you have to.
Where You Work
Some people prefer to work in an office or at a factory or someplace where other employees are laboring.
Other people prefer to be more independent. Some people get to work from home.
There is also the consideration of where in the world
you work. Some people move to a certain city or country for a job.
Think about where you want to reside. The impact on your family is an
important consideration. So, too, are things like culture,
entertainment, climate and population. Weigh those decisions carefully.
When You Work
Part time or full time? Days or nights? What about weekends? 9 to 5 is not the only option.
Why You Work
have already touched on this a bit with some of the other W's. But get
down to the real you and figure out the why behind the work.
Are you working to build towards retirement? Do you work because you
want to stay busy? Are you getting some purpose out of what you do?
We all have reasons for work. Sometimes they aren't that enjoyable.
Maybe you pick up an extra shift to help out the company or a co-worker
who needs time off.
If you don't have a "fire in the belly" for your work you might suffer burnout. Figure out what puts a spring in your step.
Also, what is your legacy going to be when it comes to the work you do?
Are you leaving the world a better place because of your contributions?
So many do. Inventors, counselors, clergy, health care professionals,
teachers, and artists (yes, that includes writers).
I hope the 5 W's of Work gives you pause to consider your work life. We
need your contributions to life and the work you do is ultimately an
expression of who you are.
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