Work and Motivation
“It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is miserable.” –Benjamin Franklin
It’s a sometimes popular thing to complain about how much work we have to do. Or the type of work we have to do. Or even the fact we have to do work
at all. “Man, I got so much work to do, I don’t know when I’ll ever finish!” “Wow, I’ll sure be glad when the work is done!” We have the wrong attitude about work and it can be hazardous to our employment outlook and our mental health.
Made to Work
The truth is that we were designed for work. Our bodies, our minds, everything about us is designed to toil and sometimes sweat. Some work with their hands, some with their heads, some with both. However we work, we were created for it. Work benefits us as much as we provide benefit through the work we do.
And the type of work doesn’t matter. Someone who labors at farming or construction or janitorial services provides obvious benefits to their people or organizations they serve. So does someone who manages those functions, or even consults with leaders to help them get better results. The key is to recognize that someone is benefiting from the work you do. I am reminded of a TED Talk from Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs and an Eagle Scout) a few years ago. In it, he talked about some of the dirtiest jobs he shadowed and participated in. The common thread he saw was that the people doing that work were almost always happy. They went about their job whistling and went home tired but content. (view about 10 minutes in).
Work Benefits Us
Work provides benefits beyond the paycheck. Beyond what we earn, work benefits us by
- Providing a sense of purpose and self-worth
- An avenue for creative expression of ourselves
- Focus on others
- Development of social skills and contacts
- Development of new skills
- Opportunity to direct our giftedness to the benefit of others
I realize that not all those benefits are provided to everyone in every job; but that’s more a factor of the job chosen than the job itself. Or perhaps even more to the point, it’s a factor of choosing NOT to find the benefits rather than the benefits not existing.
But overall, the function of where we spend at least 40 hours of our 168 hours in a week (roughly 25%), should and potentially can provide benefits that extend past the printed slip of paper (or direct deposit) we receive regularly.
It helps make us what we are and shapes our identity.
The challenge we face in a time of high unemployment is that for many it takes this potential fulfillment away. We have young adults fresh out of college with all the ambition and even arrogance that comes with being a college graduate who quickly lose heart when they find that the perfect job is not sitting on the other side of dais waiting for them. We have people 50 and over who lose jobs because of cutbacks who are deemed unemployable because of age discrimination. All have something of value to give, yet do not have a place to share that.
The result is that frustration builds, malaise sets in, and even the most powerful speech by Tony Robbins or Zig Ziglar can make an impact.
Forget the Economy. The only saving grace for it is that we have to get people back to making a contribution, whether they are 25, 55, or 75. When we are making a contribution, our self-esteem rises, our confidence surges. When we are confident, we are more likely to spend. Consumer spending boosts the economy. A rising economy benefits everyone.
Did we just solve our problem?
P.S. If you are one of those jobless in the economy, don’t let yourself sink into the abyss of self-pity and discouragement. Take at least some of your time each week as you search for employment volunteering in your community. The social relationships developed and the opportunity to express yourself will keep your spirits up for campaign, while providing a sense of contribution to your community. I know, it can seem like you are wasting time you should be spending looking for a job, but in the long run it will give your a better outlook and more positive attitude so you can make a better impact in that interview. And it shows you are a person who gets things done and doesn’t just sit around idle.