The Power of Loving Your Work
If you close your eyes for a moment and imagine a magic wand could be waved tonight while you slept so that in the morning when you woke you would have the job of your dreams…
What might that job be?
What would you be doing?
Who would you be working with?
Where would you be working from?
What would you be wearing to do your work?
How would you feel doing that dream job?
Perhaps you got a crystal clear sense or picture of your dream career, maybe you didn’t feel or see anything at all or had a fuzzy experience of something emerging, but the edges of the image were a bit blurred.
For many people it is difficult at first to connect with the kind of work we would really love to do, because we have lost touch with what makes us come alive and feel excited. When we were about 5 we could have responded to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” with one possible job we’d like to do, maybe 2 or even 3! Some of these jobs may have sounded like fantasy, but there would have been something about them that appealed to our innate passions, and therein lies a clue about the kind of work we’d love to do. But as we grow up into adulthood and the years roll in and roll out many of us grow further and further away from our internal sense of what we would love to create with our lives. This ‘forgetting’ can be for many reasons and thankfully, isn’t permanent! Once you become aware that you are disconnected from a sense of the work you were born to do, you can choose to remember and reawaken the sleeping oak tree within.
There is a tendency for people to make decisions about the type of career path they follow based on goals that aren’t aligned with their true passions or life-purpose. These goals might have guided us into career choices based on what we feel we ‘should’ do – for example if you spent 3 years studying chemistry and decided after graduating that you ‘should’ then become a chemist “I should do this work because I have studied for it or am good at it (even though I don’t enjoy it)”. Or perhaps are expected to do due to someone else’s expectation of you – say your mother worked all her life as a nurse and you know it would make her happy to see you follow in her footsteps, so you decide to become a nurse also. We can also make decisions for a next-step in our career based on what seems like a logical ‘next step’ – for example if you are working as an Account Manager and an opportunity comes up within your firm to move up the ladder to an Account Director and you decide to take the job because it seems like the logical thing to do.
In addition to goals we may have set or keep setting for ourselves, which aren’t really true to our heart felt callings in life, we can also carry beliefs about work which squash our spirit and disconnect us from our intuition about the work we were born to do. We inherit these beliefs from our society and cultural traditions, religious leaders and politicians, the media, and also from important role models in our family, schools and leaders of associations we are involved with as children and young adolescents, then later in life from our bosses. The messages we learn from the outside world can become the software for our life, not just for our work. Here are some examples of beliefs that limit our ability to follow our heart to lead us to work we’ll love:
- Work must be hard, earned, deserved and competed for
- It doesn’t matter if I hate my job, as long as it pays well
- I am not important enough, worthy enough to do a job like that (one I would enjoy)
- Work = Struggle
- Work must involve sacrifice
- The kind of work I’d really like to do is not significant enough
- Work must be 9-5, 5 days per week
- I must work for the rest of my life
- There aren’t enough jobs for everyone to do something they love
Thankfully you can choose to change this kind of conditioning and let go of such beliefs, because that is all they are – beliefs. The fact that we unconsciously absorb such beliefs is normal, and once you become conscious of them you can find ways to release them. You can literally decide to change your mind about them whenever you like. A trained life coach can help you do that and create new, healthier beliefs of your own.
One of the biggest errors common in our collective cultural thinking is that what we do, achieve and earn equates to who we are and what we are worth as human beings. If you think about social and work related gatherings when we introduce ourselves to someone new, after finding out their name we ask “what do you do” – as if what someone does for a living equals who they are. I remember being so shocked when I lived in Japan at how much starker the equation between work and sense of self is part of Japanese culture; in introductions people give the name of the company they represent, before introducing themselves by name. The problem these ways of thinking is that we end up defining ourselves by our doing rather than our being, and when we think about changing jobs, taking a career break, go on maternity leave or are made redundant our whole sense of self can feel deflated, resulting in loss of confidence, self-esteem and self-value. But who we are is much, much more than the work that we do. Regardless of whether we love the work we do, or not. Finding work we love is important because it helps us experience ourselves through our natural-born talents and passions. It is an extension of ourselves, but not who we are.
Who we are as a spirit, a heart and a soul is bigger than any work we will ever do; work can be an expression of who we are but is never who we are… we are valuable because we are, because we exist and are here. Period. Nothing to prove. – Nick Williams
The work you were born to do is inside of you, already part of you – you have it already. It is not something that you need to go out and find. You can choose to start living your work today.
The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. – James Allen.
You can awaken the wisdom of your oak tree and the song of your bird. Bring yourself into all that you do and in doing so you will be taking steps towards the work you were born to do. Once you start choosing your actions and reactions from a place of authenticity and wholeness the world around you will respond with people, places and opportunities opening up to you that are aligned with your true spirit.
Start with being your true self in the work you are already doing, or if you are not ‘working’ then approach the things that you do from the inherent essence of you, for all actions we take in life become our life work. You can change your experience of the work you do today. Even if you are in a job, which you feel deep down is not for you, you can choose to improve your experience of it, by bringing yourself to your work. The power of your work, is what you bring to your work as who you truly are. Not something that your work gives you, but what you give and create in your work. Become a human be-ing, rather than a human do-ing. Here are my top 5 tips for bringing yourself forth and creating work you love to do now:
Give yourself permission to be yourself.
There is a famous saying ‘Man’s main task is to give birth to himself’. Allow yourself to follow your heart. Act on your impulses. If you feel a desire to help out a colleague, to make tea for the office or donate generously to the accountant who’s doing a fun run for charity – do it! Sing when you feel inspired to sing, laugh when you find something funny, paint a picture or draw a happy face if the mood takes you. Connect back in with the things you used to love doing as a child. Through creativity and play we connect back in with our soul.
Choose a peaceful response to your work.
Notice when you start to feel stressed at work and say to yourself “I choose to respond with peace”. Peace is who you are deep down inside, bring the peaceful core of you into all that you do and you’ll notice things changing outside of you as well.
Listen to your body.
When faced with any form of decision, tune in to how you feel in your body when you consider the options you have. Try each option out in your mind and notice how your body responds. Notice when you feel tightness, fear, panic or discomfort when you think about something versus expansion, peace, ease and delight. Use these feelings as your inner guidance system about what actions are in alignment with your true spirit and which are not. Trust your intuition. The more you learn to listen for your ‘gut feelings’ about people, places and things the more easily you’ll know what’s good for you and what’s not.
Delete ‘I shoulds’.
If you catch the inner dialogue in your head saying “I should, I ought to, I must” press pause and ask yourself, what do I want instead. Act from your inner wisdom instead.
Speak your truth with love.
Sometimes we feel like we have no option but to tell Aunt Sally her cake tastes delicious in order not to offend, or nod our heads and say “yes”, we can work a few extra hours every Wednesday, when actually we want to shake our head and say “no, I regularly meet with friends that night”. But, if we say what we mean with authenticity and love in our hearts, then we can break free from patterns of forcing ourselves to do things against our own wishes. Speaking up and saying your truth might mean Aunt Sally bakes her fabulous pie instead of her tasteless cake the next time you see her – and your boss might save the extra jobs for Tuesdays when you are usually free, or even better redesign the work load so there’s no need to work overtime at all!