Personal commitments & work environment

COVER ARTICLE - Cairn « should we be aligned with our work? What place has personal commitments in a professional environment? »


In its 2017 State of the Global Workplace, Gallup underlined that no less than « 85% worldwide employees are not engaged or, are actively disengaged in their job ». 

I don’t know for you but this statistic has me questioning our current work model. 

In french, « engagement » means « putting something at stake ». In other words: giving a part of ourselves hoping for something in exchange. This bond, essentially, is the one firms hope we create at work: giving our all to the firm’s mission. This is mainly the theory defended by Simon Sinek in his famous book Start with Why. « Employees need to feel like they’re building a cathedral and not just a wall » (this quote might not be totally exact); meaning: we employees need to find a purpose to their job. This way, they can be aligned with their tasks and commit to bettering themselves (& the firm) to fulfil even further its mission.

But today’s growing numbers of burnouts, bore outs, brown-outs etc. imply that there is a discrepancy between the workers’ values / needs in term of work environment and what firms offer.

but, how essential is it today to have a job that matches our personal commitments?


« It’s like working at Monsanto, claiming to be an ecologist in your free time and considering it’s fine because you’re biking to work » Cyril Dion

In this provocative quote, Cyril Dion – who co-produced the movie Demain on how to create a more sustainable future – questions the efficiency of squeezing two lives into one in terms of activism. After all, why not give our all when committing to a cause? 


time to compensate

A French sociologist called Jean Viard studied our leisure time. As it appears, our lifestyles have strongly shifted since the beginning of the 20th Century. Many components contributed to redesign (and stretch) our free time. First, the invention of paid vacations in 1936 in France. Second, the development of an actual retirement plan, coupled to rising life expectancy (up to 40% ) played a great role in this matter. Did you know we lived 20 years in average once retired? This time alone can be thought of as a new life now!

In this context, let’s admit it: work has lost its former importance time wise, even though it still represents 80 000 hours (roughly 10 years or so) in a lifetime. Since we can truly « be ourselves » out of the workplace, many are those who chose to go for a job that partially match their criteria / values to campaign in their free time. Symbolically it’s the scission we created between our « professional lives » and our « personal lives ». Two environments, two value scales, two personalities (?).

Working then becomes a means to sustain our lifestyle, fuel our activities, not an end anymore. 




For the french-speaking folks, this was the topic of my discussion with Camille on my podcast Au bord du bassin 🏊‍♀️. Among the many questions we ask ourselves regarding personal commitment x work, we reflect on the notion of privilege. 

Who are those who can afford working jobs that match their personal commitment? Being an activist (if we speak about ecology, feminism, etc.) has its cost, literally. So it’s ok if you’re not able to afford it – for now. Remember, time is also (if not more) precious resource than money.

All that matters if knowing where you stand and WHY you’re walking the path you’re walking. It’s all about compromising and, as Camille says, social/ecological values are often praised as being THE main criteria when choosing a job but there are so much more! (management, relationship to hierarchy, feedback, etc.)


Not sure if you’re 100% aligned with your work?

Normally you can feel it but if there’s still a doubt ask yourself: what would you do if you had a million dollars on your bank account? Would you keep going to this job? Change? Create yours?

Who am I to judge? No one so answer with your heart


👉 Jean Viard, The rise of a new utopia – Holidays, leisure, travel / Revolutionising our free-time 

👉 Activate your talents, they can change the world! (book) by Mathieu Dardaillon from Ticket for Change

dig deeper:

👉 Are we our occupations? an article on identity building x work

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