This piece has tips for transitioning from your current job to work more suited to who you are. See the Attitude Check-in, below.
Work is among the many categories of human activity aligned with the principle Serve. What I love about it is service is the real nature of work, especially when it is performed unconditionally. It is a gift, the golden core of work, and deserving of exploration below.
People “work for a living”— this approach is typical and accepted. Almost everyone “works to live” instead of “living to work.” This vantage point causes excess stress, the kind that makes one vulnerable to dis-ease and sickness. Such excess stress can be eliminated completely with a simple change in perspective.
There are at least two ways to avoid this stress:
- One way is to rename the endeavor by calling it livelihood. A livelihood is a step beyond simply working for a living and says more about how one makes his or her living.
A livelihood is owned, as in “my livelihood.” It often affords a person a certain respect, because it associates pleasure with “putting in work.” Compensation is earned for both the effort and the final product or outcome.
2. The second way to avoid stress because one “works for a living” is to rename work and instead call it service.
Service is aligned with livelihood because it is common to perceive those engaged in livelihood as serving the community or humanity. They are engaged in working and serving. Engagement describes the degree to which their livelihood benefits (or serves) everyone, and makes the world a better place.
Without engagement, there would be apathy or “going through the motions.” In contrast, Serve (with a capital “S”) is wholehearted engagement.
With these thoughts in mind, lively work as service is the answer. “All in” engagement could significantly alter work-related stress, diminishing the disease-causing drudgery and instead enhancing joy in the workplace. Wouldn’t exhilaration be a great way to feel after work–instead of “stretched to the limit”?
Of course, the best way to be engaged and “all in” is to do work you love. But this is a blessing, luxury or circumstance that is out of reach for most.
Then there is the work-love paradox. Beyond the artists and geniuses, not many people equate work with love. Fewer still know what kind of work they’d love if they had a chance to do it.
Granted, love is ephemeral enough without attaching it to “making a living.” Love happens when it wants to and having it provide a weekly wage may seem far-fetched.
This is where service steps back in; where the principle Serve becomes important. There is love inside of the conduct of service, and there is service inside of work, no matter what the job is. One’s occupation has the potential to be a loving service, more akin to a livelihood than a J.O.B. (just-over-broke salaried position).
Service is performed to see others happy, and, beyond work, is associated with volunteering for everything from neighborhood clean-up to tutoring to campaigning for a candidate. As a principle of loving living, Serve is (literally, as the fifth principle) central to one’s life.
Since it is a core concept that permeates other strongly-held ideas, “Serve” can be adapted, with gusto, as a replacement for the overused term “work.” It is a better mindset for guiding one’s working life.
Fact is, day-to-day work channels one’s talents, skills and tools towards a single objective—to Serve humanity. Once the daily grind, the J.O.B, or disliked employment is imbued with the Serve energy, the excess stress of working eventually disappears.
The choice can be made. Even if the work is not preferred, one’s attitude in doing the work has a huge impact on stress-level—it can minimize or maximize it. Choose your occupation to be of service rather than work-for-hire.
“Change your attitude and you change your altitude,” says a common saw paraphrasing Zig Ziglar. How high up in altitude—or how deep—do YOU wish to go?
In response, the opening song of the TV show Cheers declares,“You want to go where everybody knows your name.”
You want to go beyond a higher pay grade or glass ceiling. You want to work as an expression of yourself, the real, unique you. When you are not loving your vocation; not being of service in your attitude towards work, the special fruits you bring to life’s table go missing.
This points to Serve (the principle) being the purpose of work, and emphasizes your purpose as a worker. To serve is a gift, and serving keeps you present and open to opportunity.
Unconditional service keeps your priorities clearly defined, horizon in sight, and spirituality more strengthened, purified and unified.
N.B. Customer Service is the business way of marketing “service with a smile” and working “with pleasure,” so as to dissociate profit from people-pleasing. However, earning more profit from satisfied customers is precisely the goal of corporate Customer Service.
The corporate world is one arena, and family maintenance through head-of-household or two-earner families is another.
Ask yourself these questions to assess your position regarding your current occupation.
- What are your feelings about your current job or line of work?
- What kind of work would you prefer?
- What feelings would doing this kind of work awaken within you (name at least three emotions)?
If not at preferred job
- Is your work preference a possibility as a promotion or lateral transfer at your current place of work?
- What were main reasons you accepted this job/position?
- Besides earning an income—can you identify any other reasons you hold this position/are doing this kind of work?
- Are you learning anything on your current job? (list)
- Are you teaching* anything on your current job? (list)
Shift from unpleasant to more pleasant livelihood
1. Change attitude by
- being grateful for small things
- being thankful for the income
- understanding the work is a stepping stone
- using the time to learn what you can while there
- using the time to teach* what you can while there
2. Get written recommendation/referral for work performed
3. Make a lifelong friend or two; he/she will serve as your bridge to something better; then one day you will do the friend the same favor!
*Teaching while at a job you don’t like
If you find yourself training people to do your job or a lateral one, asked to teach difficult aspects of your job, and watching others get promoted over you, your are witness to one of your primary gifts in operation. You are a teacher, trainer, educator, role model, director/supervisor.
Begin to look at how you are drawn into this role.
Does a manager ask you to show someone how to do their job? Do you notice someone needs help and offer tips and expertise without being asked? Is it possible that “showing others what to do” is an aspect of the work you really enjoy, and why you stay put in the job?
When you weigh this scrutiny against the reasons you don’t like where you are, you may shed light on what really keeps you there, and keeps you going back day after day. Give thanks for that which there is to Like!