Monday Mail: Can Work Ever Be ‘Hedonism For Profit’?

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I listened to an episode of the Being Boss podcast last night that featured Paul Jarvis, author of the latest must-read book for entrepreneurs, Company of One.

I haven’t read the book, nor did I get to the end of the podcast before falling asleep.

(I love listening to podcasts on my headphones in bed – sexy time, eh??! – but there’s a high chance I’ll miss the end because I’ve nodded off. ROCK ‘N’ ROLL.)

Anyway, I’ll be going back to it later, because it was a good ‘un.

Company of One – from what I’ve gathered so far – is about moving away from the belief that anything you create (business, project, side-hustle, whatever) must continually grow in size; it must get bigger, bigger, BIGGER in order for it to be a success.

Instead, rather than constantly chasing MORE, we should look at ways of continually improving what we have, what we’ve built, so that it works better for us and our lives.

Which all sounds really sensible to me (even if I couldn’t stay awake long enough to listen to more of his words of wisdom).

Anyway, one thing I DID hear on the podcast, and that I DO recall, is the part where Jarvis said our work should be ‘hedonism for profit.’

(He and the podcast hosts actually say ‘hee-donism’ because they’re American and they don’t know any better, which I suppose I can let slide…)

So he is saying that we should all get to the point where what we do for a living simply feels like fun; that we make a profit from having fun.

Work = fun.

How does that happen, then?

I reckon this is SUCH an alien concept for a lot of people.

I’d argue that the majority of us in the Western world have been conditioned to see work and fun as completely separate.

Work is a miserable Monday morning commute. Fun is Friday evening freedom. Work is stress and being somewhere you’d rather not. Fun is letting your hair down and doing whatever the heck you like.

Isn’t it?

I started thinking about my own experiences of work.

I think, if you’ve got your own business or side-hustle or thing, then you’re probably more in tune with the idea that work CAN BE more like fun. Or that it can be more fun than we’ve been conditioned to believe, at least.

And yet…even though I work for myself, can I honestly say that my work feels like fun, that when I am doing it it feels like I am ‘engaged in the pursuit of pleasure’?

(That’s the dictionary definition of ‘hedonistic’ by the way, just in case you thought you’d stumbled across a piece of erotic fiction by accident).


Not all the time, no.

When I think back to when I started my business, I went straight into doing what I knew – PR – without thinking about whether I actually enjoyed it and whether it was ‘fun’ for me.

Yes, running my own business and not having a boss to answer to gave me the autonomy and the freedom that I’d craved in all the jobs I’d had up to that point, but did I actually enjoy the work I was doing?

And if the answer was no, then surely I’d have been better off doing the same work or similar while working for someone else, because at least then I wouldn’t have all of the additional work and responsibilities that come with being a business owner?

Looking back, there definitely were elements of fun in my work, and there must have been enough of them that, when coupled with my long-craved autonomy and freedom, meant that it all felt worth it.

But there were certainly bits that weren’t fun.

And I suppose I started to recognise how I wanted more of the fun bits (some of the writing and content creation, when I was helping to promote people I like and things that I’m passionate about) and less of the bits that weren’t fun (flogging things I’m not particularly enamoured with). And so that’s where I am at the moment, moving away from PR into writing.

Yet…isn’t it a bit idealistic to think that work should – and can – always equal FUN?

I love the idea of work being ‘hedonism for profit’. The sooner we start moving away from the mindset of work being something boring and terrible and the thing we only do to pay the bills, the better.

BUT I don’t think it’s always that simple.

Sometimes work’s just what you do for eight hours a day, and it’s boring and definitely not FUN. But you get to have fun with your workmates at lunchtime, and you know you’ll have fun again when you get home.

And sometimes that’s OK, sometimes that’s necessity, sometimes that’s enough.

I suppose, if I’m 100% honest, that’s how I can feel about my ‘job’ as a mother, especially if either of us are having a bad day.

Those days where it’s just me ‘n’ Ted can feel a bit boring and definitely not FUN at times, but there are enough moments of fun throughout the day that it is manageable, and I know there is fun to be had again on the other side of a particularly crap bit, once Ted’s stopped crying because I won’t let him watch Numberblocks for the 245th time.

And that’s OK.

It’s when your entire days, weeks and months feel soul-destroying, and/or you’ve got a voice in your head telling you that there’s something else out there for you that could be so much more FUN, that could replace the boredom and the soul-destruction, that it becomes not OK.

So do something about it, if that’s the case. Start taking steps away from soul-destroying and towards fun.

At the same time, be realistic. Recognise that it’s not always an immediate option to go in ‘pursuit of pleasure’ when bills need paying, kids need raising and so on.

Hedonism for profit is an excellent goal to aim for, but let’s not beat ourselves up if we’re not there yet.

Bye for now x


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Hello, I'm Laura. I write about parenting, life, style, building a business and finding success on your own terms.

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