Work Shouldn’t Feel Like A Job!

I read an inspirational Instagram post the other day by the wonderful Brian Falchuk which said “Life Shouldn’t Feel Like a Job”. I agree completely. And sometimes it does, doesn’t it, espcially when you’re trying to juggle family, work, personal interests, being healthy, managing your finances, maybe getting to see your friends at some point, staying on top of your Instagram posts…!

But it occured to me that Work shouldn’t feel like a job either.

After all, why should it? As a professional person you probably chose your career. Maybe you really, deep down, wanted to be an actress (me), or a vet (me) or a tightropewalker (me) when you were younger but setting that aside, you do what you do now for more than the money.

Presumably your work is meant to bring you fulfilment, a sense of purpose, the joy of being good at something, friendship, adventure, shared experiences and ultimately making a difference in the world in some way.

But so much can get in the way of that. The day to day routines of work, the politics, the battle for recognition, positioning yourself for your next role, competing for resources, the blooming meetings all dominate how we feel about work.

There comes a time when we are struck by that and start asking ourselves “Is this what I really wanted?”.

Call it existential angst, a mid-life crisis or just a new year’s awakening, we look at our lives and say “If this is it, if this is my life, right here, right now, do I want the one I have?”

And sometimes the answer is “Not exactly”.

It’s not bad, it’s just not quite right. And you didn’t spend all those years busting a gut just to look at your life and think “It’s got to be better than this, surely”. You deserve better.

Work has the potential to be joyful, meaningful, fulfiling, fun, make a difference and integrate pefectly with the rest of your life so that the distinction between work and non-work becomes almost invisible.

Instead of work or not working, you’re just doing the things that have meaning to you, some of which you get paid for and some of which you don’t.

To start making this a reality we have to question the beliefs and assumptions we have about work and what work is meant to do for us (you can listen to this podcast episode on that very topic). We’ve become so habituated to think of work in a certain way that we make these sacrifices without even questioning them.

Instead, start with purpose and value. What is the purpose of your organisation and what is the value you are there to bring? How can you reorinentate your life towards that value? How different would your day look if it was all about bringing real value? What would you start, or stop? What would you stop tolerating?

You can start with small changes or you can go full “Punk in a Suit”!

I’ve found in my own life and in the lives of my clients, that when we let go of the layers and layers of “have to” and “should” and “this is the way it’s done” and focus on purpose and value much of what seemed crucially important suddenly seems ridiculous.

Forget about your career path, your bonus, even your reputation and focus on purpose and value. Ironically, the more you think about that the more work will stop feeling like a job and start feeling like an extension of you.

Blaire Palmer is an author, speaker and keynote speaker who helps individuals and organisations strip away the industrial age conventions that prevent them making a difference and being a force for good in the world.

You can listen to her podcast “Punks in Suits” on iTunes and PodOmatic