Modern American culture has become laden with wage slaves. The trend of each generation taking on more consumer debt than the generation before is taking its toll. The giant mortgages, car notes, credit card debt, and student loans for questionably useful degrees ties down many. A worker goes “to the grind” just to pay for things they do not really own. While some estimates say that 50% of American workers are unsatisfied and in the wrong careers, I wonder how much of it is not the job that creates disgruntled employees, but rather foolish personal finance and lifestyle decisions.
The pie-in-the-sky idea of a “dream job” is something that many aim for but I wonder how much of it is really the job that is the “dream.” I would prefer to change the focus to a “dream life.” Wouldn’t you trade long hours and higher wages for a more routine, predictable role; ample time with family and holidays, more vacation and free time during the week to serve others and pursue hobbies? Those things sound like a better life than just going into a job that you love. The danger with chasing the “dream job” is that you can get the job and lose in every other area of life: spiritual growth, relationships, family, maintaining your homeplace, serving others, pursuing hobbies…
Taking a spin back in history, many people were paid for their results rather than their time and their work was their “trade”; not their lifestyle. Think about a merchant who made a certain profit each time he sold a product or a woman who sold her eggs at the market. The merchant was not paid based on how long he tried to sell his goods, nor was the woman paid for the amount of time it took her to gather the eggs. Instead each were paid by the results that came from their labors. Life on the farm, which many of our ancestors knew, was one of seasonality and fruitfulness.
One speaker I heard during college, argued that the American workforce has become “wage slaves” who waste their lives for a paycheck and have bought into a system that destroys their families, limits productivity, damages culture, and results in unfulfilled labors. You may or not agree with that assessment but how have you become lost in the details in your work life and lost focus of lifestyle priorities? Making a change is possible, it begins with a decision and then happens through the compounded effect of the little decisions you make toward a goal. One promising thing about the millennial generation is their desire for work-life balance and their desire to make a difference serving others. Properly pursued, the shift from a consumer-culture to a giving and simple culture would be a positive cultural move.