And how to find that love again when it disappears…
Most of us spend an average of 44 hours each week at work.
And if we are self-employed, that number may be a great deal higher!
If we consider that we sleep roughly 8 hours per night, then that means we are awake roughly 112 hours each week…do the math and that means we are working at least 40% of our week!
That’s a lot of time!
Which means, as far as I can see it anyways, we better really love what we are doing!
I, for one, have to say that I do love what I do…very much. But it wasn’t always that way! I’ve had jobs that were dangerous (when I worked at that gas station when I was 21 in university and we used to get robbed…well, I cannot say that I particularly enjoyed that part of the job!) and jobs that I tolerated (like the one where I endured the manager snapping my bra strap…yep…no one talked much about workplace harassment when I was 15), but throughout my journey of being employed by various companies to now owning my own, I have learned a thing or two about what is required to find the love in all the work that I have done.
You see, even when I worked at that gas station where I would get robbed, there were things that I liked about that job. Yes, I had to dig deep – really deep – to find them, but they were there. The banter between my co-workers and I, the knowledge that most customers never expected the gal at the gas station to smile and chat with them so they left feeling pleasantly surprised, the quiet of working late into the night in a city that bustled during the day…those were some of the things I loved about that job, and ultimately those were the things that kept me in it.
And the restaurant where I worked as a young girl and the manager snapped my bra? There were things I loved about that job, too! The smell of the bread baking in the giant ovens in the back, the twinkle in the eye of the baker as she proudly brought the dessert trays to the display cabinet, the cheery conversations that I overheard during the lunch hour as colleagues took time out from their busy days to share a sandwich…those, too, were wonderful moments.
I believe that each of us has within us an internal compass that points us towards “Happy” or “Joy” or “Love.” And while I do know that there are legitimately some times in life when that compass seems to never even remotely get close to hovering over that “true North,” I do believe that we have the power to encourage it to move closer and closer to that point during most of our experiences in life.
And when it comes to our work, I think that it is imperative that we do our utmost to shift our compass to “Love” if for no other reason than the fact that we spend so very much of our time working!
So what can you do today, this month, this year to move you closer to finding that love for what you do?
Here are some suggestions:
1. If you can, create for yourself a working environment that you love. Even if you work in a cubicle, if you can surround yourself with pictures and things that you love – crystals, rocks, that postcard from Tulum that has that picture of the really good-looking beach god on it, that vase from France — they will help you find joy in otherwise ordinary moments.
2. Sing and dance whenever possible. Okay, I know that this is the strangest suggestion ever, but one sure-fire way to create more joy in your workday is to add music and movement to it. If you cannot play music, then sing in your head! If you feel strange standing up next to your desk and practicing your salsa moves, then at least move your bum a bit in your seat! It will help! Trust me! I have been belting out show tunes all morning between calls!
3. Make an office friend. Some of us have Work Husbands, and that’s amazing, but even if you could make a Work Friend, life would be all the sweeter. If there’s no one in your office that you even remotely enjoy, then see who you can connect with in other offices in the building. Perhaps you could meet for lunch once a week, or at least exchange witty emails from time to time to put a smile on your face.
4. Create a list of why you do what you do. It is easy to forget when we are in the trenches exactly why it is that we chose to do what we are doing. And so, therefore, it is easy to lose perspective, and lose sight of the happiness that we are hoping to create. Are you doing the work that you do so you can pay for a vacation with your kids? Are you doing it because you want to make a bigger difference in the lives of the people that you serve? Are you up to your eyeballs in work so that you can pay off your mortgage before age 50 because that’s what you always said you would do? Write it down! And then keep that somewhere close by so you can refer to it easily when you’re feeling less-than-enthralled with your work day.
5. Dream. If you simply cannot find any love for the work that you do, then your number one job is to start dreaming. Allow yourself even just one minute a day to cast your mind towards what work would be if you loved it. Would it be that you would have to do less cold-calling? Would it be that you had someone looking after the book-keeping? Would it be that you would have an office with a window? What would “Work That You Love” look like? Feel like? Be like? Just allow yourself that minute (more if you can swing it) to lean into “Work That You Love” – make it your favourite go-to daydream – and then notice, slowly, perhaps, but surely, how new opportunities start to arise to support this new dream of yours. Notice the co-worker leaving on maternity leave whose office has the window…and you, yes you, are in line to take it over while she’s gone. Notice how, when out for dinner with a friend, you randomly meet a colleague of hers who is doing bookkeeping on the side. Watch. Notice. And be ever-mindful of the ways in which your desires for the things that you would love – could love – about your work simply begin to show up. And then take them. And give thanks for them. And smile to yourself at how easy it was.
Those are but a few ways to find more love in your work, and I do hope you’ll try them when you’re in the midst of an hour, a day, a career of not loving what you do. And be sure to share your experiences with the rest of us! After all, we are each spending almost half our week working, and if we can inspire one another to find the #LoveOfTheWork, then just imagine how much happier we will all be.