Work & Career Better Endings



My Italian housemate tells me that in Italy, where his father lives, people do not “live to work”, but rather, they “work to live”.  How about you; do you live to work or work to live? This week we will explore what Better Endings might mean in relation to work and career topics. Is Better Endings about better pay? Or is it about greater personal fulfillment from the job or career itself?  How can you maximize Better Endings in relation to your work or career?

Paradise island

The Maori of New Zealand were at one point considered by psychologists and by psychological anthropologists to have the lowest incidence of mental disorder of any cultural group in the world. When psychologists studied what they were doing to promote such a state of wellness, they found a number of factors relevant to how people experienced their daily lives in relation to stress factors. First, the Maoris tended to tell their dreams to their family members, and if a parent recognized a stress factor being expressed in the dream content, the parent might suggest a way to relieve that stress or conflict. An example I have read about is that a boy said he dreamed a neighbor boy had stolen a toy. The parent asked the dreamer then to go give that toy to the other boy as a gift.

A second factor of Maori wellness was attributed to a practice referred to in the literature as “Time Out”.  If an adult were feeling overburdened by stress in relation to their family or daily work load, they could announce at a community meeting that they needed Time Out. They would be allowed to stay in a hut slightly away from the village for as long as needed, while others took care of their children and responsibilities. Then when the person felt ‘mellowed out,’ as we might say, they could simply rejoin the community and resume their lives. Others might tend to treat them with less demands after this because of the need for Time Out which they had publicly displayed.


How different our Western, daily workaday lives tend to be! How much can we “crunch out” in a day’s travail seems to be the measure, if not of our happiness, then at least of others’ esteem for our industriousness. Vacation time will not release us from those stressors that may build up even higher while we have our “precious” time away. Indeed, with today’s smart phones and laptop technology, it is becoming harder to truly separate from one’s work even while on vacation.

So, this week, let’s contemplate the value of “work” in relation to career and also in relation to personal fulfillment and vocations (hobbies, arts or other stress-relieving pastimes), not just jobs. Perhaps in the process of reviewing and reflecting upon how we/you DO  work and career related activities, you can gain some insights about ways you might wish to make adjustments for the future based on your core values, your life priorities and sense of purpose.

As always, I welcome and invite all of your insights you might wish to share via Comments and stories.

Advice and Insights from Mainstreet, by Tell Your Story participants


“Most people feel the system is out of whack. To get into place today, it seems knowing the right people and networking is vital. Competition for jobs is fierce. I would tell people to never give up and never settle. Life is too short to be depressed about an economic crisis.”


“It’s all about your attitude. If you have a good attitude, it will take you far; but if you have a bad attitude it will take you just as far the other way. I know, I’ve had bad attitudes within this stretch. I try to keep it positive as much as I can. But you can’t do it all the time.”


“My general comment would be for people to not give up. It’s so easy to just sink into depression, but if you just get up every morning and just come determined, and have courage, then it will eventually work out. Just live day by day and have courage.”


“One way I try to look at this is, What can I learn? What kind of lessons can I have come from this? What’s good about this? What’s the benefit? Can I look at it from that perspective? Otherwise you’re just gonna be frustrated, be angry. ..And then you’re miserable. I mean, I’m unemployed, but that doesn’t mean I’m miserable.”


“When you first get unemployed it has a social pariah attached to it. So people tend to withdraw and not tell anybody, they try to mask the fact that they’re unemployed. But that’s the exact wrong strategy that they should be pursuing. The right course of action is to let everybody you know, know that you’re unemployed because they all understand that. A lot of people are well-meaning and they’ll try to hook you up with jobs that don’t match your qualifications or interests, but they do get the word out.”


“I think in a sense that there is a higher power, and that I can look at the bigger picture and this is just a circumstance. This is not who I am, it’s just a circumstance of my life, and separating the two is important because sometimes you start to identify with being unemployed and labeling yourself: you know, ‘I’m unemployed, there’s something wrong with me, the world is against me.’…But if you say, ok, this is a circumstance, this will pass, what can I do to change it… Otherwise, you lose control and you can think…’I’m a victim’, your power’s gone. And when you give up your personal power, then there’s no more options.”


“It’s just real. It’s not positive, it’s not negative, it just sort of is. You just have to go with it and keep going.”

These statements are from people who shared their voices for the 2010 -2012 Tell Your Story project in Colorado Springs. Interviewers included Lindsey Raymond, Ivy Tyson, Christopher Hollander, Julie Weinheimer, Matthew Shell, John Palka, Rebecca Cornell, Rebekka Grainer, Sabrina Flugrath, along with 10 additional TYS team researchers.