Why work?

You might think the answer is obvious – "to earn money!" – but there are lots of reasons why people pick the jobs they do.

Why do people go out to work?

Sometimes people choose a job that gives them a chance to make a difference to the community. Others follow their passion, even if it means they don’t earn as much as they could do. In fact, adults who aren't in a paid job will often still try and find something to do with their time to stay busy, like taking up hobbies or volunteering. Work gives people a structure to their lives, a reason to get up and dressed in the morning, and of course, money to pay the bills.

While you‘re still at school, it’s really important to spend time thinking about what you want out of life. Do you dream of having a big house, expensive cars and six holidays a year? Or perhaps you would be happy with a simpler, less extravagant lifestyle?

Be prepared to work hard

It might be nice to daydream about having lots of money, but it’s important to remember that often the jobs that earn people the most money are also the jobs that can cause people the most stress. No-one gets paid £100,000 a year for working 11am to 2pm three days a week, cuddling kittens and taste-testing chocolates. Often people who are earning a high wage will also be putting in some serious hours at work, perhaps including evenings and weekends. They may be expected to be ‘on call’ to sort things out 24/7, even when they’re on holiday.

It’s not easy to get a job that pays you lots of money. You might hear stories about people who left school with no GCSEs and went on to become millionaires – and it’s true that this can happen – but it’s very rare. Most of the time, the higher the level of qualifications someone has, the more money they will earn in their lifetime. If earning lots of money is important to you, be prepared to work hard for it!

What matters to you?

So you need to ask yourself – what is important to you? There’s nothing wrong with being motivated by money, as long as you’re willing to put in the work. There’s also nothing wrong with working for very little money, but either way it’s much nicer if you are enjoying the job you do. Of course, most people end up earning somewhere between the minimum wage (in summer 2015 this was £3.79 for under 18s) and earning millions or billions!

It’s also worth thinking about where you want to work. Do you want to be working in the same place every day, or travelling around the country, even the world? Will you be in an office, in a warehouse, in a laboratory or outdoors? These days, technology and the internet mean people can work from almost anywhere in the world. Perhaps you fancy running a business from a laptop in a beach hut in the Caribbean? This might sound like a great idea, but remember that in order to make a living in this way you need to have some kind of skill that other people will pay money for. Some types of jobs and industries are only available in certain areas, so you might need to consider moving to follow your career plans. For example, those interested in deep sea fishing won’t find work in central Manchester, and people working in finance are likely to find that a lot of vacancies are based in the City of London.

Do what you enjoy

If you’re really struggling to think of ideas, a good starting point might be to think of the words of the philosopher Alan Watts, who asked;

What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?

By asking yourself this, hopefully you can identify what really makes you buzz. Then you can start to build a career plan around what you are really interested in. Good luck.