Why do you wake up in the morning?

Published: December 17, 2010

We don’t do it for the paycheck, and if we think we do, we’re just fooling ourselves.

In the 70s, there lived in a make shift two bedroom apartment in Mumbai, a lower-middle class family who did small-time trading with Arab merchants for a living.

Today, that family owns not one, but two of the biggest private sector conglomerates in the world.

Today, two brothers from that family control the biggest fortunes in the world. The elder of the Ambanis, a fiercely competitive Indian called Mukesh, is worth an astonishing $29 billion.

Here’s my question: why does the 53-year-old magnate still go to work?

According to the regional averages, he has about 10 years to live. Even if he stopped working today and spent his fortune like a madman, it would surely outlast his years. Why doesn’t Mukesh Ambani just take a lifelong vacation?

I think there can be two reasons for this.

  1. Our “wants” are infinite and ultimately irrational. We can never be content because there’s always a higher rung on the ladder, and we want to be able to afford the next big thing. We start building tolerance to contentment. Nothing is sacred, it’s a never ending race to the highest bank balance even whilst the Grim Reaper clutches at our feet.
  2. We don’t do it for the money. Sure, it’s a perk, but ultimately there are greater games to be played and money ceases to be enough of a high for us to quit our pursuits. Maybe we’re workaholics, or we’ve got something to prove to the world, or maybe we’re just conditioned to perennially run the rat race.

In either case, I strongly suspect that your reason for getting up in the morning (and mine, to be honest) is not in line with the most successful people in the world.

We don’t do it for the paycheck, and if we think we do, we’re just fooling ourselves.

This post was originally published here.


Umair Kazi

A strategist who blogs at www.theideaartist.com

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ali Hassan

    Nice post.
    I hate waking up in the morning, but still I wake up, and go to office, because I know my boss can’t handle things alone.Recommend

  • Shiblee Nisar

    Well said.

    But maybe we do it for the paycheck of convergence, or rather lack of it thereof. Is our existence not but a deliberately impaired attempt to rationalize the convolutions of the imperfect mind? The conscious needs to be fed with the existence of the unconscious, and a hierarchy of intertwined ideologies make you step out of bed every morning, and step back in it at night.

    Sometimes even the day!Recommend

  • procastinater

    most ppl do it for want of a better optionRecommend

  • Anonymous

    Completely Rubbish.Recommend

  • Noreen Shams

    wow what a great article same the question raised in my mind while heading to the office why we wake up against our will and come to office and I got the answer here for my own self atleast yeah reason is we can never be content and our wants are infinite that makes us to work and yes dont know about others but my reason for getting up in the morning is in line with the most successful people in the world..Recommend

  • Saad

    Talk some sense Umair…. Of course it’s the money.. !!!!Recommend

  • parvez

    Umair I like reading you stuff but this one just flew over my head. I just did not get it.Recommend

  • Amna

    “We don’t do it for the paycheck, and if we think we do, we’re just fooling ourselves.”

    Maybe I just didnt get the point of your article here, but,
    Since most of us are not Mr. Ambani, we do go to work for the check. Way to generalize.Recommend

  • http://www.habloid.wordpress.com Habiba Younis

    nice read!
    In my case, if i had enough fortune like Mukesh (how I wish I had :p), I wouldn’t simply bother to leave my cozy bed n go for workaholic monotonous routines. I have an infinite energy store to spend my life in full time waila style. And waking up in the morning is on the top of my things-I-despise list. Sunny mornings are just too dull, yes seriously i find them dead. Thats why, despite my mother’s continues protests I make a point of staying awake nearly the whole night in holidays n skipping ways facing mornings by sleeping till noon. Given a choice n enough crisp cash (again wishful thinking), I would like doing all my stuff (work is not included in this list) at nights, the only peaceful time with beautiful darkness, mystic stillness n silence.There is so much interesting in the world to do other than work (duh!). I don’t know about others, but I for one can spend my life happily reading silly comics :pRecommend

  • http://allpicxs.blogspot.com tipu

    its a life time experience to wake up before sun and jog for a while.Recommend

  • http://www.theideaartist.com Umair Kazi

    Thanks for the feedback. I may not be correct about the motivation not being about money, but nonetheless I think it’s a question worth asking.Recommend

  • http://billaytoot.wordpress.com Belal

    I get up to play tennis…and I love it..Recommend

  • http://www.moresulpharthanclay.blogspot.com Javed

    Well, call me a fool but I wake up in the morning and land up in the office by nine for 5 days a week simply because I get a handsome salary at the end of every month. Working in a corporate environment of modern day is certainly not an artistic endeavor. What you are achieving, besides improving your own lifestyle of course, is making your big bad boss a little more rich at the end of every day. And guess what, no matter for how long you work in a given company or how devotedly, the big bad one gets to have the last laugh … always.Recommend

  • Taha

    Have we run out of topics so badly?Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/IAARACCOP I am a responsible and civilized citizen of Pakistan

    @Umair: Nice work. I believe we get up early for different reasons and money is the reason for many, the degree of which varies from person to person. It depends on which place we stand on Moslow hierarchy of needs. Some may get up early for basic needs to earn their lives and some may do it to prove themselves or sustain their way of living, like Mukesh does. Still we need to get up early in the morning. The best thing is that we get up for Fajar prayers(which many of us don’t do, even I).Recommend