Having advised hundreds of students and working professionals, I’ve distilled my views on work into 7 principles or belief statements. These sum up what work is and should be:
1. Work is a good, necessary part of life.
There is inherent value in honest work, whether white- or blue-collared, compensated or pro bono. Our work is not limited to only our jobs.
2. Work does not define our worth.
We are more than our titles, incomes, and achievements. These neither validate nor disqualify us. Work is not the source of our significance.
3. Work should be personally meaningful.
Each of us should do work that we care about—work aligned with our values, interests, and personalities. Work is for more than a paycheck.
4. Work should be beneficial to others.
Our work should solve real problems and meet felt needs. We are stewards of our time and talents to influence positive change in the world.
5. Work should be performed with integrity.
How we do our work matters. Good work starts with good character. There should be congruence across one’s thoughts, words, and actions.
6. Work should be chosen with intentionality.
Why we do our work matters. Every choice carries tradeoffs and opportunity costs. Our decisions should be made with clarity and conviction.
7. Work and rest are equally important.
Work should not be idolized, and rest should not be neglected. Rest is essential. Its value does not depend on performance and productivity.