In a Sept. 8 New York Times blog post, Professor Gary Gutting of the University of Notre Dame discusses the nature of work and why we work.
"True freedom requires that we take part in the market as fully formed agents, with life goals determined not by advertising campaigns but by our own experience of and reflection on the various possibilities of human fulfillment," wrote Gutting. "Such freedom in turn requires a liberating education, one centered not on indoctrination, social conditioning or technical training but on developing persons capable of informed and intelligent commitments to the values that guide their lives."
Along with being a product of the contemporary American education system from public schools all the way through law school, I meet countless people who struggle between having a level of financial success versus having a meaningful, enjoyable life they are passionate about.
Money cannot buy you happiness. You may need to temporarily do a job to make some money to pay the bills, but you shouldn’t confuse that situation for something more meaningful.
Those who enjoy life and who have true financial success have those results through following their passion. You know when you meet these people. They have that extra vitality and talk about things that matter to them and they get you excited when you’re around them. They have results in life that only come from following their passion.
I frequently meet adults and teens who struggle with either not having a passion, ignoring their passion in favor of working for a living, or otherwise blame countless circumstances for why they don’t have the life they want.
American society is seeing a revolution with the conventional education system as costs soar and many individuals graduate who, at minimal, aren’t trained to find or create financial success or, at worst, aren’t trained and encouraged to follow their passion to where they can have both meaning and wealth.
Professor Gutting says, "This is why, especially in our capitalist society, education must not be primarily for training workers or consumers (both tools of capitalism, as Marxists might say). Rather, schools should aim to produce self-determining agents who can see through the blandishments of the market and insist that the market provide what they themselves have decided they need to lead fulfilling lives."
America provides an enormous level of opportunity to have whatever success we want, if we are willing to earn it. With great freedom comes great responsibility. Many do not have the mental and physical strength to take advantage of those freedoms to a high level. Can they be trained to have more? They can, if they are willing to believe they can have more and are willing to take action.
We see the revolution to the traditional education system with charter schools, home schooling, for-profit institutions of learning, online learning, private learning networks and self-taught entrepreneurialism. There isn’t a reason why anyone can’t be educated to have what they want in life.
What can you do now? Start by asking what do you really want for your life. What have you wanted to do in your life?
Don’t wait for all the conditions to be in place to change – those conditions will never be perfect. Don’t wait for when you have enough money. Don’t wait for when your kids are grown up. Don’t wait for when you are retired.
Start taking any type of action today. Something is greater than nothing. For many people, they’ve been doing nothing with their dreams for most of their lives.
Change your reality or not. Either way, your happiness and your life is your responsibility.