Last night (a Saturday night) I wrote a post about working on a Saturday night. Nothing extraordinary about the post, but you can see it here if you like: Working on a Saturday night post
If you didn’t read it, or if it’s disappeared (as it will eventually…) the gist was that I was working on a Saturday night, but that’s because I love what I do it was something that excited me, rather than being a chore. I even quoted the phrase “Find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day on your life”. I think it’s my unofficial motto!
There were some lovely comments (none, so far, were bad by the way) either agreeing with me or reminding me that I need to find a balance too (good point). There was one comment which stood out though and prompted this article.
“Working to live? Or living to work?”
Well, that stopped me in my tracks and made me think. It’s something my best friend often says to me, and about me: “You/Stacy live/s to work, I work to live”. To be honest, she says it so often that I don’t think it has had an impact on me for a while, but when a virtual stranger asked the question I thought about it.
Do I live to work? Or do I work to live?
I definitely don’t work to live. That’s very clear. My motivations for work are not just to pay the mortgage and put food on the table (although a very important part). But do I live (just) to work? I mean, I love to work, but do I live to work?
To answer the question I started thinking of my career path. Quite appropriate given that this week was results week in Scotland. Without realising it I think I have been ‘working’ from a very young age. And actually quite entrepreneurial too!
As a young kid (not sure how old, maybe about 9-ish) I was making ‘perfume’ out of flower petals and selling it around the neighbourhood for 50p.
As a young teenager I was picking potatoes in the October holidays – known as the ‘Tattie holidays’ in Scotland. £10 per day, for 5-days. It was, literally, back-breaking work and I used to come home exhausted and have the best sleep after. Any idea how much money £50 is to a 13-year-old in the late 80s?? Answer – LOTS!
At 14 I worked in a corner shop – the old ladies (as they were to me, but they were probably 30) loved me and I used to get selection boxes and Impulse sets as gifts at Christmas.
At age 15 I worked in a shoe shop. Now, undoubtedly this is where I had my first taste of targets and KPIs – and I loved it!
By the way, I wasn’t working from a young age because I grew up poor or anything. Not that we were mega-rich, but my dad worked in the oil industry (retired now and enjoying golf and grandkids ❤️) and him and my mum provided very well for me and my five younger sisters. We were very well provided for, had everything we needed and a lot of what we wanted too. But I always had this urge to work and be independent for myself. I think maybe it was having such great role models to look up to. Who knows, I’ll maybe analyse that another day.
Anyway, I left school a month before my 17th birthday and began working as a YTS (Youth Trainee Scheme) Travel Agent for AT Mays (any other Scottish buddies remember them?). I worked in travel for 17-years and my passion and hunger for the sale was well noted. I didn’t achieve targets – I SMASHED them! I learnt a lot about customer service doing this job too – definitely something which I think carries though.
I used to go in early, work through lunch, stay late and even pop in on my days off (or at the very least phone in to see if any of my clients had booked). This was before internet so working from home wasn’t possible, but that didn’t stop me putting in the extra hours.
I’m not going to continue on my work journey as I think I have perhaps demonstrated enough that actually for me it’s not a ‘work to live or live to work’ situation, but rather a love to work situation that I find myself in.
So in that, I then started thinking about what drives me to work so hard.
Is it Money? I think in the early days that was a factor, particularly as a trainee travel agent. As I was on the YTS scheme I got paid a VERY basic wage which was about £25 per week. Even back then £100 a month didn’t go far. But I would earn the same commission on bookings as anyone else so that made me hungry.
However, as time went on, and has gone on, it has most certainly NOT been about the money. I have taken jobs for a lower salary because I was keen on them. I even took on a promotion once, more responsibility with less opportunity to earn commission, for no salary increase because I WANTED to do it.
And now we get to where I am now. I am doing something I absolutely LOVE. I work a ridiculous amount of hours and I keep my rates very affordable. I have been told by many people that I don’t charge enough. Why do I do that? To me it’s very simple – I want ANYONE to be able to afford me and my services. Is it sustainable long-term? Maybe not, and I may have to (slowly) increase them. But one thing I do know is that I NEVER want it to be the case that someone starting out can’t afford it.
I think that answers the question about it being money that drives me – NO. I have bills and debts just like most people, and I’d love not to have them, live mortgage free and maybe have a nice holiday every year. But it’s not a motivator to me.
I am 100% driven by being excited about what I do. Learning more about it, emparting that wisdom and watching others flourish.
YOU are my motivation.
I’m ending this by definitively answering the original question – do I work to live, or live to work? Neither. My answer is my motto: “I’ve found something I love, so I never have to work a day in my life”.
Have a great day, don’t work too hard! 😜