Loving your work has only a little to do with what you do, and more to do with how you do it. Your attitude affects your experience far more than the details of your job.
Few of us are doing the work of our dreams, at least I’m not. Even if I did have my dream job I have no illusions that my it would be 100% enjoyable every day, or that my dream job will be perfect and challenge-free. Actually, I imagine a perfect job would be quite boring in practice as there would be little motivation or opportunity to grow.
(I admit it- I thrive on challenge which may or may not be the reason I tend to leave things to almost-the-last minute. Who ever said there are no benefits to procrastination? It keeps things interesting!)
Whether or not we’re working our dream jobs we have to contend with frustrations, limitations, challenges, and the occasional bad day or difficult person. Since I refuse to be unhappy and discontent every day I must manage my attitude towards my work. I want to enjoy life, regardless of my job, status, or challenges.
To enjoy my work to the fullest I practice attitudes of mindfulness, patience, gratitude, and plain old hard work! It’s okay if you’re reading this and thinking I’m talking crazy. It’s fun to be a little crazy. Want to join me?
The work I do in my full time job is quite far from my dream job and this truth challenges me a great deal on almost a daily basis. I don’t love the work and don’t easily connect my work to a greater purpose. It’s repetitive, dry, and boring! I struggle to find enjoyment in my work most days. And, as it turns out, my current work provides a great opportunity to master black belt level skills of attitude! Hiiii-ya!
Yeah, yeah, enough about me, you may be thinking, how does this all help you? Keep your shirt on because I’m going to share with you my secrets to getting more enjoyment from my work! If it works for me it just might work for you.
Be in the moment
Mindfulness is the state of active, open attentiveness to the present. You’re not worried about what happened yesterday, or concerned with what might happen tomorrow. You just focus on today.
Easier said than done, I know from experience. Mindfulness is not a practice that came easily to me in the beginning. My mind tended to replay past situations and worry about the future. I idealized what happened before, holding on to fond memories, and what was up coming, the promise of the weekend or upcoming event distracting me from today.
When I began to master mindfulness I found I enjoyed life more. I was able to appreciate what’s right in front of me and make the best of what I have. I accomplished more and had more fun doing it.
Patience invites you to let go of your judgments and expectations. Patience doesn’t require you to endure a difficult situation but, rather, to accept life on life’s terms and make thoughtful choices about your life.
When I feel impatient it is because I am in a hurry to get from here to there but the problem with this idea is I believe there will be better than here, but experience has taught me that “better” is relative and what I experience today is a result of my attitude, not my situation.
When I have a little patience I have a better day.
Gratitude is the key to happiness. If you don’t appreciate what you have, you won’t appreciate what you’ll get.
Gratitude has brought more joy to my life than any other habit, and yes, gratitude is a habit that must be cultivated. I trained my mind to look for the good in each day through keeping daily gratitude lists, saying “thank you”, and being grateful in action.
Sure, I have complaints, but my work isn’t all bad or all good. Nothing in life is all bad or all good. I decide what I’m going to focus on and since I don’t feel very happy focusing on complaints, I’ll focus on the good stuff instead.
Do the work
Sometimes you’ve just gotta get out of your head and get to work. There’s a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with completing a task. Start small and do the work.
A practice I’m working to turn into a habit is to start each day by simply doing the next right thing. The next right thing being the next thing I need to do. When I set aside my excuses, justifications, and distractions, I know what’s important and that’s what I do. As much as I enjoy a little procrastination, I get far greater satisfaction from doing the work in front of me.
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