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Copyright © 2014 Yumi Sakugawa
For many, work is a 4-letter word. Songs are written about how much we hate it. There are television shows that share how awful some jobs are. The source of our greatest complaints in life are either about our family or our work.
But what if instead of seeing work as a sentence, we saw it as an opportunity to do more of what we do best? What if we actually found work fun? Unthinkable! Impossible! Stop kidding around and get back to being serious – this is work we are talking about. Our “work ethic” says that work is supposed to be tough, challenging, complicated and demanding. What if we had it all wrong?
If we could use more of our talents and live more of our passions, we could raise the enjoyment, engagement and fun in our work. But most of us get pushed into work situations instead of intentionally choosing them. We think money matters most when it comes to work.
However, talk to those who are exceptional at what they do and love doing it and they will share that they used fun, engagement and impact as criteria for selecting work, a job or a career – not just money. After all, you choose what you will have to do each day. It seems reasonable to choose something that engages and inspires you, not one that will be a challenge to get out of bed for each morning.
Besides being a workplace and life coach, I am an adjunct professor for a college in South Florida. Most of my students have no idea of not only what they want from college, but what things they should be studying to be ready for life after college. They have not been taught how to look within themselves to see their unique abilities and passions, and how to review their world for the places that will let them do what they do best. They are setting themselves up for work that they won’t find fun, exciting and engaging. We are creating the next generations of those who will continue to write and sing about how bad work is and how we have to just put up with it until they get to come home – or die. Every moment of life is one worth living wisely and with intention. And if work uses the greatest number of the moments of our lives, isn’t it worth it to find a way to build fun AND impact into our work?
This makes me want to ask 2 questions:
- If you could realign to a field, job or position that would activate your greater talents and passions, what would it be and how could start to make the change?
- If you can’t make a job or career change because of your current situation or commitments, how can you look at what you do and find more things in the workplace that feed your spirit, soul, talents and passions?
Here are some examples.
Steve is an entrepreneur – his work is to evaluate business ideas in which to invest. His job is so much fun for him, he told me he can hardly stand it. He is excited and “on” every moment.
Marie waits tables – work is fun for her. She can’t wait to meet the next person, share stories and hear theirs. She takes on extra shifts, not for the money, but for the time with new people.
Bob is the CFO for a company. Month end is his favorite time of month as he reviews the performance of the company, prepares reports and makes presentations. For him, it doesn’t get better than this.
Tess is an administrative assistant. Though she is good at what she doe, it isn’t her favorite work. She is intensely creative so she asked to coordinate the office events and write the company newsletter. These raise the fun meter in her role.
We choose our level of happiness and fun. If it isn’t as we like it, we must change it. There are always things we can do to improve how we see the world, and what we do in it. As George Bernard Shaw shares, “Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations.” Make the moments matter. Make the most of everything. Don’t wait for things to change, change them.
Love life. Love work. Have more fun. Make more fun. It is possible. It is up to each of us to make it happen.
Six months ago I spent half of my savings on a gym membership and a personal trainer at the gym down the street from my apartment. It was supposed to be a three month membership only because I had this Groupon, but I’m a sucker and they brought their whole sales team out. Next thing I know I was handing over my debit card, feeling convinced that I was finally making the right positive change in my life. I was also under the delusion that if I lost the right amount of weight that I could potentially replace Shailene Woodley as Mary Jane in the next installment of Spider-man (and basically my entire life would be a fantasy). I woke up the next morning having a full fledged panic attack. If you’re not aware, six months of personal training is expensive. Like thousands of dollars expensive and while I love my job, being a wellness blog editor does not really afford such luxuries. When I called the gym to cancel they informed me that they don’t do refunds on personal training unless you get hit by a bus or something. This is not a fact they mentioned the night before, or else I’d like to believe I wouldn’t have been so willing to just hand over the cash.
The point is I paid for this trainer. And now it’d be my job to make it worth it.
Yesterday was my last session. I have lost a total of five pounds. It’s not my trainer’s fault really – or at all even. The thing is that even though you’re paying someone all that money to help you get in shape the job is still yours. So you can pay someone to tell you how many reps to do twice a week but if you go home and eat an entire bag of Sour Cream and Onion chips – you’re only screwing over yourself. This is not to discredit the work of personal trainers. Their enthusiasm and guidance are invaluable, but they can’t lose the weight for you and if you’re not in the mindset to do it then all the wisdom in the world isn’t going to get you there. I can make a lot of excuses about why I didn’t lose more – I was depressed, I was juggling too much, there were scheduling problems, I couldn’t get a regular routine – but at the end of the day I just didn’t do it.
It’s hard not to feel like a failure with something like that. It’s not like I didn’t want it, you know? I’ve been chubby to obese my entire life and for once I wanted to know what it felt like to try on pants at Old Navy without having to go to the maternity or plus sizes section. I wanted to know what it felt like to go shopping with my friends and not want to curl up in a fetal position thirty minutes in because none of the clothes I want come in my size or look right. This was the perfect opportunity to get there and I didn’t make the most of it. I’ve been beating myself up about it for weeks as I knew I was running out of sessions.
It came even more acutely at the end of the session yesterday. I had made it through warming up, backward bench presses, arm curls, rowing, twenty minutes of boxing and ab exercises (Okay, so how much did I have to gorge to only lose five pounds doing all that? I KNOW.) But to finish it off my trainer wanted to do these push up exercises. You start on your elbows and then push up into regular push up position. Then rotate back down onto your elbows, repeat. On top of being a chubber I also have basically no upper body strength. So I got onto my elbows and could barely hold myself up. I tried to get up on my hands and every time I did I would collapse onto my front. My trainer kept trying to encourage me, but it happened two or three times and the frustration really set in. Really? I know I didn’t lose the weight but I really can’t do a few push ups on my last session? Universe kick a girl while she’s down why don’t you? So I started crying. Now I’m just collapsing onto my still larger than doctor recommended belly in a boxing ring that is literally in the center of the gym, with tears streaming down my face as I explain to my exasperated trainer “I can’t! I keep trying and I can’t! *falls* DAMNIT!”
But I kept going. Even when Darlene told me that I had basically done the 10 I needed to do, I knew I hadn’t done a full one. So tears, chub and all I kept pushing myself up and falling until I got up on my elbows, rotated my hands, pushed up, and down on my elbows again before collapsing to the ground. “I killed your arms today,” Darlene tried to explain, “Don’t beat yourself up because you couldn’t do this. It’s more important that you kept trying. It’s only once we lose that, that we have a problem.”
I have only lost five pounds. And all of the excuses – holidays, work, family drama, etc were killing my arms. The important thing is to keep lifting yourself up. Keep trying to do the push up. Maybe you never get to do it or it takes 5 times as long as you expected it to. The important thing is you keep at it because it’s only once you give up that any of it becomes impossible. I’ll be seeing you eventually, Old Navy.