What Is the Purpose of a Job – Part Two

Continued from What is the Purpose of a Job?

You can also choose to use whatever you learn to make money in other ways. Many years ago I used to clean carpets for $8 per hour. Using what I learned and a bit of research I put together a website on carpet stains six years ago. With minimal upkeep each year, it has made me far more than I ever made pushing that high-pressure wand.


An important part of what we call luck is knowing the right people. If there are places of employment where you are more likely to meet the “right” people for your goals, it makes sense to identify these jobs and go after them. For example, working in a country club might lead to meeting potential investors for your future tech company. If you want to make contacts in Hollywood in order to sell your script you might wait tables where directors and producers eat. Do your research of course.

Of course if you plan to start a business, working in the relevant industry is almost always a good way to meet the right people. Just be sure you make a point to meet them. If you have a job delivering cleaning supplies to restaurants, for example, and you hope to start a similar business, don’t just drop off the deliveries. Say hello to the managers, learn their names, ask them if there is anything else they might need delivered, and make sure they know your name. In other words, consciously use you job for networking.

Personal Development

Working can teach you a lot about yourself. You might think you’re a highly motivated worker, for example, but then discover that when you have a sales position you lose much of that motivation. In other words, a job can teach you what you are good at and what you are not so good at. Beyond this revealing of your natural gifts and interests, a job can help you develop abilities you didn’t know you had. You might have to learn to talk to people if you work as a taxi driver, for example.

There is a more personal side to this as well. When I was young I had a job in restaurant management, and I discovered–much to my dismay–that I was often a mean person. Worse descriptions were used by some of those who worked under me, and they were not entirely untrue. That experience motivated me to change (I hope). Working with others can be a chance to learn and grow.

The Many Purposes of a Job

My first real tax-paying job was as a dishwasher and cook at age 17. I had a very specific plan when I applied for it. My goal was to save up enough money to hitchhike to Mexico for a month or two. After working half of that winter I quit and I was soon out on the highways with my thumb out and a wad of cash in my pocket. The purpose of a job? To make travel possible–or for any other important goals.

Yes, perhaps sometimes it is just for a paycheck. When this is true, treat it as a temporary condition. Look for others ways to use that position or look for other employment that can be used for higher purposes. I have never truly liked any job I’ve had–that’s just the way it is. But using them for a greater goal made them tolerable. On the other hand, working a job just to pay the bills would have been terribly depressing.

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