“Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.” – Diserata

The Desiderata (Latin: “desired things”) is a 1927 treatise on life by American writer Max Ehrmann. It’s comments on work (and many other things) are as relevant today as they were when they were written. Work has changed. The need to work has not. Most of us think – especially in times of stress and exhaustion – that we really don’t want to work. Playing games or reading or watching TV or participating in our favorite sport really sounds like what we want to do. Of course, those are great things to do to relax and refresh, but a steady diet of them is usually not satisfying. Studies show that humans were meant to work. To have meaning, we must have work in our life.

Please don’t think I mean that everyone must go off to an office and sit in a cubicle every day or build houses or roads. Some people will find fulfillment in those activities. However, some people’s work will be raising a family and keeping a home (very hard work). Some people’s work will be a creative activity – painting, acting, writing, etc. Some people’s work is in the giving of themselves for others – paid and unpaid. The lines between work and relaxation blur for some. When I am stressed, I actually relax by doing financial work. It forces me to clear my mind of everything else. The point is that studies show that in order to be fulfilled, we have to do our work – whatever it is. In the USA Today last week, there was an article on Baby Boomers continuing to work. “Sitting at home through a 20- or 30-year retirement is no longer an option for an increasing number of Baby Boomers. …One in six Baby Boomers are expected to go into business for themselves.” The article points out that sometimes this is for financial reasons, but as often as not it is for personal growth and fulfillment.

We often confuse ourselves by talking about work-life balance. This implies that work is not part of life and vice versa. It gives work a bad reputation. In fact, life should not be the alternative to work. Work is part of life. We should certainly strive to keep work in perspective with the other parts of our life, but it is a matter of attitude. If we look on our work as a part of our life that keeps life in balance, it becomes a blessing instead of a burden. Of course, it should be the right work – the work for which we were destined.

As Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

 

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