Because I try to wake up everyday with an attitude of gratitude, this month I’d like to explore the concept of “our work, our worth” and our quest to “find meaning.” In the book, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT, BUT I KNOW IT’S NOT THIS, author Julie Jansen writes, “In today’s work climate, more and more individuals are beginning to question the grueling pace at which they lead their lives. In an effort to manage this issue, some companies have instituted policies that support maintaining “balance” between work and an employee’s personal life.” For example, companies may offer incredibly competitive vacation time. The problem is, however, that many employees don’t use all their vacation time. Julie writes, “If senior management and the corporate culture demonstrate that succeeding means working around the clock, the pressure of fitting in and ‘doing what it takes to get the job done’ can override the desire to lead a balanced life.” Why do we feel that the harder we work and more time we spend, the worthier we are and the more value we have?
I remember feeling “numb” by the amount of work I had while climbing the corporate ladder. I would start my day at 5:30 a.m. at the gym while reading scripts on the treadmill. I would often keep going until 9:00 p.m. This was my cycle. This is what I believed you had to do to be a worthy part of corporate America. I had to earn my direction. The quest for the title of Vice President was blinding me to my own sense of fulfillment. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of what I loved most about my job, the gift of story. It became only about the work and the validation. I started wondering if everyone else who was embarking in this climb was feeling fulfilled by the process. I remember reading that the most successful people often have the lowest self-esteems. This seemed ironic to me. How could achievement of tremendous success equal a lower sense of self worth? As I rose, I began to understand the correlation.
Is our quest for greater meaning in the jobs we’re doing unreasonable? What I like about Julie’s exploration is that she helps you figure out your strengths and explains how knowing what fulfills you can help bring meaning to your work life. Our jobs are very often where we spend the majority of our time. We spend so much time choosing quality in our personal lives, why wouldn’t we do the same for our professional lives? The “paycheck” used to be the end-all be-all. It was the reason why we went in the direction that we did. We are experiencing a shift in consciousness as a nation. Since what we perceived as “security” has been thrown out the window, why not do something we love everyday? Our health and well being are strong incentives. We should commit to finding where our gratitude truly lies. We are worth the commitment.
Your time spent at work is valuable. However, it is better to connect your worth to the quality you put out, not the time spent doing it. Since I fell from the ladder, I have discovered a stronger formula for worth than time spent in the office. Worth is connection with self and those around us and the way we affect others with the work that we do. Ego and title are no longer the barometers. It is about growth. With growth comes the greatest gratitude of all.