Sometimes it’s really discouraging to be a young worker in today’s world. It’s difficult to study hard, incur big student loan debt and still have to move back home twice after graduation. It sucks to be laid off from a traditionally very stable job every summer because of shitty planning on the part of the local school board and the state government. And in the world of private business things aren’t always much better. I could go on about it and complain about how “unfair” things are for my generation, but I’m too busy making other plans, forging new paths, and working hard because – despite lack of compensation, motivation, job security, or whether or not you really have to – I’ve been brought up to believe there is absolutely no excuse not to. Sometimes I almost feel like I’m keeping this huge secret from some people my age … that hard work does and will, regardless of the economic climate, pay off.
Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live – that productive work is the process by which man’s consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one’s purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one’s values – that all work is creative work if done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others – that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human – that to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to become a fear-corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to settle down into a job that requires less than your mind’s full capacity is to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay – that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live – that your body is a machine, but your mind is its driver, and you must drive as far as your mind will take you, with achievement as the goal of your road – that the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch, that the man who stifles his mind is a stalled machine slowly going to rust, that the man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap, and the man who makes another man his goal is a hitchhiker no driver should ever pick up – that your work is the purpose of your life, any other loyalty or love, can be only travelers you choose to share your journey and must be travelers going on their own power in the same direction.
– Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged