The next stage

Everyone wants to matter. Yet, how many of us truly feel that the work we do “matters”? Or even that our contribution to that work “matters”?

Too many conversations about the dreaded “job” revolve around the negative aspects: office politics, dreading Monday morning, the unfairness of that thing that happened, not getting paid enough, boredom or the pointless nature of much of the work.

That’s just depressing.

There are three places where I have been honoured with the opposite conversations. And by “the opposite” I mean conversations dominated by the positive. Perhaps not perfect, maybe even very far from perfect, yet voices and faces become full of enthusiasm and energy.

The first is entrepreneurs and, in my particular experience, location independent micro-business entrepreneurs. These people have all consciously taken control of their lives and are on a mission to create businesses that empower and enable the lifestyles they want to live. They challenge the rules that society tells us are “normal”. They value freedom of time and location much more than “traditional” career building.

The second of these positive conversations have come from people working in charities or non-profits. In particular, the people who have seen the evidence of the impact their work brings to the people or causes they work for. There are usually plenty of frustrations and a significant lack of funds, yet the passion and drive and feeling of working on something that matters is obvious.

The third and final group is a small, diverse group of people who work in very special companies or teams with an inspiring culture. In many ways it is totally unfair to lump these into one group as, in my experience, they are unique and very different. Diamonds in the rough. Yet, they have at least one thing in common; a positive culture that goes beyond the superficial wording on a website or company recruitment ad. Those places that people want to work. Where you can see the staff genuinely grow and develop as people, even as the business grows and develops.

Reflecting on these three groups of conversations has helped me to strengthen and clarify my definition of what it means to “matter”. That is fortunate, and no coincidence, as I am about to launch into a new stage in life. (Nothing to do with hitting the big four zero next year, honest).

This post is a public statement of intent. (So you can point and laugh if I go off the rails in the next few years.)

I intend to build a new business and lifestyle that truly matters. Matters in the broadest possible sense of making the world a better place, as well as in the specifics of living a fun and rewarding life.

It is unclear, yet, how this is going to happen. But I do know three things:

  1. I will work with people that are fun and inspiring (fortunately I’ve experienced this lots already so know what I’m looking for!)
  2. We will be completely location independent; enabling choice and variety of lifestyle and valuing time and experiences at least equally with money
  3. We will work directly on and/or enable projects that make the world a better place for other people

Vague you say? You are completely correct! Yet I am excited about making it happen. And about feeling like it matters 🙂

(PS: if thinking and talking about this sort of thing interests you then I’d love to chat!)

4 thoughts on “The next stage”

  1. A very good post Barry. I know this is something you’ve been thinking about for some time, and I wish you the best for the new venture.

    It sounds like what you have in mind is something along the lines of a social enterprise, and/or a cooperative. Certainly, what you describe sounds very similar to the ideals that inspired the cooperative movement: satisfaction at work, a wider purpose than the bottom line, democratic methods of working. It seems that the businesses you refer to are rediscovering those ideals, without reference to the cooperative tradition itself: a contemporary expression of a very old desire to work in a different way.

    Something to discuss further, for sure. I hope to get along to the WordPress meetup next week, so may see you there.

    1. Thanks Justin. Yes, I have been thinking about this for a while, and it is exciting to be starting a new chapter now which is even closer to the ideal (I hope).

      Your observation about cooperatives is interesting. I had not considered that. Probably because I have no direct or indirect experience of working in a coop. That makes it different from the experiences I pulled from when writing this peice.

      A recent article I read ( poses the question that I struggle with re social enterprise. I know it is a simplistic question: but why do we need a different definition?

      And, of course, my underlying assumption is that sustainable profit is still a (the?) major driver.

      Anyway, I’ll hopefully see you at the meetup, as I’d love to chat about this. Though I do leave Scotland again the day after!

  2. Hey Barry !

    Good post, should have read it while in Turkey ! I’ve been thinking about these questions too; if you didn’t have the chance to read it yet, find a copy of Muhammad Yunus’ book “Creating a world without poverty” : it did really help me find ways of putting together the need to run a business and the will to have a positive social impact around you. Plus, there’s a bigger community building around these ideas so finding new partners and people to work with is thus easier.

    Keep your ideals, move towards them and reach them; this is the best I can wish for you 🙂 There are some common goals that we’re trying to reach so I’d be glad to tchat about it with you

    Do you already have some ideas on how to make your goals concrete ?

    Greetings from France

    1. Thanks for the book recommendation Ben, I will check it out. You are totally correct that there is growing interest in this approach to business – plus I’ve through in location independence to make it even more fun!

      My new business is (very slowly) taking form over at, that is about as concrete as I am at the moment 🙂

      Always happy to chat about this stuff!

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