Why are generations of children growing up believing it’s normal to work without meaning?

Post · May 3, 2019 ·

The statistics vary, but somewhere between 70% and 85% of people globally are unhappy in their job. That means most working people spend most of their waking hours doing something they dislike – often with people they don’t naturally connect with, on activities or projects that don’t give them purpose, for someone they don’t respect.

How can this be?

I think it’s because we grow up believing we have no control. That there is a prescribed way of doing things. That a life lived on our own terms is impossible, a concept for dreamers. I’m not sure what age that belief starts kicking in, but given how defined and guided our educational path is it’s probably pretty early.

From the age of about five someone is telling us, give or take a little bit of input, what we’re doing today. Who we’re doing it with. When. Where. Why. If we don’t like it, well…we quickly learn that nothing good ever comes from standing out. Conformity is safe.

Then, naturally, we grow up and repeat the same cycle in our adult life. We go out and get jobs (‘job’ is surely the most soul-crushing word in existence), and a new authority figure takes over telling us what we’re doing today, when, where, why…and if we don’t like it, well…

It’s a conditioned state of control. We don’t love it, but we’ve spent so long in it that we feel comfortable. Everyone complains about their job/their workmates/their boss/their pay/their hours/their commute, right? Safety in numbers. And besides, blaming someone else for any life dissatisfaction we’re feeling is far easier than putting the responsibility for that back on ourselves. We simply haven’t been equipped for that.

It’s…just how it is.

But how long are we going to accept this as the status quo? Life is too short, too precious, too deserving of purpose to spend so many hours, days and years living without meaning at the centre of it.

Three-quarters of the working world feeling unfulfilled day after day is a damn travesty, and we cannot let our children repeat another cycle.

Help them be the change.

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