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September 24, 2016 | by  | in Being Well |
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Being Well

“Do something you love and you will never do a day’s work in your life” is phrase you will hear often, and I am not aware of any evidence that this is true. I am lucky enough to do a job I truly love and one which offers real meaning and value. I have friends who have some of the best jobs you would ever imagine: professional musician, artist, helicopter display pilot! They all love what they do and reap great rewards, but the fact remains that for all of them it is still work. Of course there are far worse things than working and not working is amongst the worst of them, as they say the only thing worse than paying taxes is not paying taxes.

So work is essential for the vast majority of us: it offers financial security, self-esteem, meaning, a place in society. It is also very demanding and difficult. We know that work can be hugely prohibitive for our mental health and it is also one of the most common causes of stress.

Many students come to talk about the end of their degree and what they are going to do for work when they leave. Very few attend wanting to talk about what their lives will hold in store when they leave, the range of other important domains that are essential for making a rich meaningful existence. This is understandable as the pressure of society and economics force work to the forefront of people’s minds, but it is not the only thing to focus on.

Balance is key. To reap the reward of a working life and manage the pressures it puts on you it must be balanced with other priorities, like those of family and friends. One significant risk work poses is that it can come to define you as a person, when our work esteem and identity forms the whole of our identity. We must all ensure that it forms a part of our lives and this is something best achieved from the outset, even as you study for your degrees. The temptation to make work everything starts even before we leave.

Often the key factor in student distress is that they have lost balance, as they strive for success academically in the pursuit of the dream job they lose sight of all of the other things that have made them a rounded person. If we are unlucky the other ingredients of life can seem secondary to work, but we all need to remain mindful that these are in fact the essential ingredients in forming lives we can enjoy and sustain for the long term.

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