Dr. Anthony O. Parker

We work because our parents cared about us enough to teach us the value of earning a living. The laws of nature are such that parents usually die before their children. Parental instincts focus on our children’s safety and security.  How do we provide security for our children after we die? You can leave them money, or you can teach them the value of work so that they can make a living. We work because we love our families. As we become spouses and parents we work because others depend on us. We work to make our families proud of us. We work to support our families.

We work to survive. We spend the first four years of lives preparing to receive a formal education. Starting around age four, we begin the formal process of structured learning to become a good citizen and prepare for work. We start in pre-school, then kindergarten, grade school, middle school, and high school. At the end of high school, we are usually told that we need at least another two years of additional education. To be successful, a young person born today will spend 16 to 20 years in the education system preparing to begin a career. The formal education process conditions us to work. We likely begin our working life between the ages of 18 and 25. We will likely work 8 hours a day for 40 hours each week. We will likely work for 40 years. The only single activity that you will attempt more than working is sleeping.  In summary, you spend four years preparing to go to school. You spend sixteen years attending school. Most of us spend at least forty years at work, and only fifteen to twenty years in retirement. The quality of your life in retirement is usually directly related to the career that you choose. Most of our adult existence relates to work.

We work because of our egos. When we meet people who last saw us as children, we ask each other what are you doing now? When we meet people for the first time, we describe what we do and where we do it. We rarely answer the question by saying, I’m a spouse, a parent or both. We likely describe ourselves as a nurse, truck driver, welder, doctor, teacher, manager, industrial maintenance worker, minister, plumber, farmer etc. In our community, we say that we work for Phoebe, Albany Tech, Albany State, Procter and Gamble, Miller Brewing, Marine Base, etc.  We work because we want to create an image that communicates our success.  

Focus first on your spiritual growth, your family, and then your career. The occupation that you choose should be rewarding and should compensate you adequately to have a good quality of life. Have at least two contingencies.  Prepare for your short term and midterm career goals. Realize almost every occupation changes so drastically that the person who prepared 10 years ago will need additional training to do the job now. Be nimble and embrace change. Realize that we will always be in the process of re-tooling. Remember on most days you should see what and be happy that you did more than show up.