"Work, Life, and Everything"
by Paul Krugman
"Ryan Avent has a lovely essay about the reasons modern professionals tend to put in such long hours. As he says, it’s not just drudgery: for many people work is satisfying, a source of a lot more than just money. It can, of course, also be a form of avoidance, a way to avoid the messiness of real life. But anyway, for those lucky enough to have the right kind of work, it’s much more than a paycheck.
I just thought I’d add a note from further down the pike, as someone who’s a quarter-century older than Avent: the nature of the reward from work does change as you get older, although it doesn’t necessarily go away. The phrase that runs through my mind is “the end of ambition.” At a certain point you realize that it’s not about winning another prize, literally or figuratively, getting a promotion, whatever. (And yes, it’s easier to reach that state of mind if you have been lucky enough to get all the prizes you wanted.) Instead, it becomes about the craft, the service, just doing well what you hope you do well.
When that happens, you do lose some of the white-hot intensity of your younger years, and (in my case, at least) start trying to make up at least a bit for other things you didn’t do. (Music!) But there’s still plenty of work to do, and plenty of reasons to do it, with- maybe- some new-found serenity."