Because we need to earn money, most of us work. But it’s not always something we feel happy about, despite giving it hours of our lives.
Which can set up a daily sense of despair.
One that’s not always helped by the “find the work you love” brigade, who approach things from the perspective that each of us SHOULD be able to nail our heart, and therefore our work, on something or other.
I’ve got to tell you, that hasn’t been my experience.
What I love doing has shifted over the years. Yeah, there’s been a common denominator in that it’s all people development stuff, but the way I’ve loved doing that has ranged from having a paid job to various forms of working for myself.
Which at times has made me feel a bit of an imposter. I’ve thought, if I can’t figure it out, and my thing is helping people live and work on their terms, who can?
Some years ago, however, I had a bit of an twofold epiphany.
The first bit of it was that I was just going to tune out the “find the work you love” messages. They were making me anxious and so even less likely to be clear on exactly what it was I did indeed love.
The second was a major reframe. One that I’d like to offer to you. It goes like this:
It’s never a job per se that creates the feeling of love – or not. It’s what goes on in your mind as you’re doing that job.
And, while you may not always be able to change your job in the short term, your mind is more in your control.
So, rather than waiting for that illusive experience of “work you love” to come along and wrap its arms round you, take an attitude of love into what you’re doing just now.
Revise your definition of love
Many people think of love as some gooey emotion; something that “happens” to them, as if by magic.
It’s not. Love is a choice. It’s an energy. A decision we can make about how we extend ourselves to other people and situations. Even people and situations that at times can be difficult and annoying.
You can decide to go find the best things in the work you’re doing right now.
You can choose that the project ahead of you will be something you’ll enjoy or something that will bore you shitless. Choose the former and you open yourself up and expand your energies. Choose the latter and you close yourself down and make life heavy for yourself.
Why suffer? Decide to enjoy what you do.
Be of service
So many of us go to work, wondering what it’s going to give us. What we’re going to get. This often just sets us up to be disappointed.
How about changing things round and asking what you can give; who you can serve?
It needn’t be a huge gesture. Maybe just offering a colleague uninterrupted time to talk through a problem. Or your boss an alternative way of handling a particular client. The important thing is that it comes from the heart.
Do it with no requirement that you get anything back.
Then see how it the feel-good factor bounces back at you as you experience extending your own horizons.
Don’t judge others
If we’re not enjoying work much, one of the symptoms can be judging others we work with and for. It’s pretty human. But judgement is such a heavy thing to carry. And it ends up separating us from people with whom we could otherwise have good connection with.
See things from other people’s perspectives. Empathise with them. Understand their experience. Be curious about it.
If someone crosses you, try not to get caught in the drama. Forgive them.
If you’ve played small on something and have judged yourself, forgive yourself. Let it go.
Appreciate what work gives you
Be grateful for the things the work you do gives you. Do so on a daily basis. Write it down if it helps.
You can find gratitude for many things – a colleague bringing you back a Starbucks without even asking. A client writing a testimonial about you and sending it to your boss. The fact that what you’re doing has put money in your bank account again this month, keeping you financially viable.
Active appreciation again enables you to feel good about what you do.
Sure, it can take a bit of effort to rouse yourself to choose to love what you’re doing.
But a key benefit is that it helps you be lighter and clearer. Creating the space for you to consider what you really do love.
How do you bring love into your work? What results does it have for you and for others?