Today is Labor Day in America. It became a national holiday in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland reconciled with the labor movement following the deaths of workers during the Pullman Strike. Fearing further conflict, the bill was rushed through Congress a mere 6 days after the strike. Much has changed in the workplace since then. Now we largely look at Labor Day as the last weekend of summer and the kickoff of the football season, a day off for fun and relaxation.
If we view this occasion as it was originally conceived, it is a day to appreciate those in the workforce and celebrate employment. I ask you; do you feel celebratory at work? Are you fully engaged and joyfully expressing your talents and skills? Do you really like your job? Are you appreciated and rewarded for your contributions? Do you feel energized by the work you do? Sadly, I don’t think the majority of workers would answer yes to these questions.
When my daughter graduated college, she had a hard time being motivated to get that first job. I asked her what came to mind when I said the word: work. She thought a minute and then said; “I get a picture of a sweaty bald guy in a warehouse pulling a huge chain.” My internal response was “yikes, she views work as drudgery!” Sadly, I think many people view work from this perspective. (Happily, my daughter now loves her work as a blogger, freelance writer and social media consultant in Denver).
For many people, a job is tied to the idea of being in servitude to get a paycheck. I’ve had coaching clients tell me they are miserable in their jobs but are locked into the “golden handcuffs”. They feel they cannot leave their jobs for fear of losing health insurance and other benefits. I ask them, “If you really can’t leave your work, can you find a way to be more satisfied with it?”
What would happen if you shifted your perception and viewed work as a creative expression of yourself? How might you bring your natural talents and skills into your work life? Can you see how your work could then become a “labor of love”? I believe that each and every one of us can find or create work that is inherently fulfilling. If you are currently in a job, consider how you can experience it with more joy. Ask yourself:
- What is one thing I can do this week to find more pleasure and satisfaction at work?
- How can I make the best contribution to my workplace, my co-workers, or my employer?
- What can I change in my daily routine to make my job more interesting?
If you are looking at career options, consider these questions:
- What am I passionate about? How might I express my passion through my work?
- Is my work an expression of me? Is the work I do in alignment with my value system?
- What kind of work would energize me?
- Who could utilize my natural talents, skills, education, etc.? Where is there a need I can fill?
If you can’t find a way to “love the work you’re with” it’s time to look elsewhere. You might consider creative self employment, starting a small business or a combination in income producing endeavors. Remember you don’t have to do a particular kind or work, you have choice!
“Follow the path of your potential and live the work you love” –Dee