Deep down, each of us wants a job that plays to our strengths. We want to make a difference and feel valued by the organization. We seek connections with our coworkers. We desire to feel good about our work and about contributions to the "greater good".
Still... most of us find it hard to check off all of the boxes just mentioned.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the phrase "love your work". That's not easy to do, depending on the work you have in front of you but I think we are called to do just that.
Some how, some way, we are called to love our work.
Dan Pink puts it this way, “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.” (Source)
When we love our work, we embrace both challenges and opportunities. In addition:
- We find the inherent dignity of employment.
- We make deep connections with our colleagues.
- We practice grit when it would be easier to just quit.
- We choose to be positive when others get cynical.
- We are surprised by small things that make us smile.
Don't misunderstand me- there are times when it's impossible to love our work. That's when you know you're ready for a change.
But if you can stay, here are six things that can be helpful, easing you into greater appreciation of your work:
- You have a job. Many do not. This most basic truth is powerful to be reminded of.
- Your work allows other things to happen. Health care, new contact lenses and braces for your kids are all possible because of your job.
- You are getting clearer as to your strengths and weaknesses. Work polishes the stone of each of our gifts.
- You are being prepared for your next job. Strange as it sounds, work gets you ready to work- next week, next year, next month.
- You have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. This pushes back on depression, health issues and anxiety.
- You have others around you that you can invest in and cherish.
There's one other thing that contributes to us loving what we do and that is often called "mastery". Again, to quote Pink, “Why reach for something you can never fully attain? But it’s also a source of allure. Why not reach for it? The joy is in the pursuit more than the realization. In the end, mastery attracts precisely because mastery eludes.”
Mastery is the idea of getting better and better at something. This rarely comes through hobby. It can come through employment and practice. Work, when seen this way, becomes the vehicle for personal improvement.
You can actually become an expert by virtue of your job- that's awesome.
Work isn't always fun. It's not meant to be 100% birthday cakes and balloons. With that said, it can be thoroughly stimulating and can make you a better human being.
What delight can you find in your work today?