“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” ~Steve Jobs
We’re talking about wellness and today we are going to focus on professional wellness and right livelihood—meaning work that rewards you both financially and is in alignment with your values.
If you know anything at all about me, you know that I strongly believe that lasting change happens when we line up our choices with our values.
We don’t rely on gimmicks or guilt or shame to make lasting changes in our lives.
We also don’t lie to ourselves about what actually IS important to us.
So often people proclaim that “such and such” is important or they couldn’t live without “this and that” and yet they seem to get up every morning without this or that in their lives … AND they don’t seem particularly focused on doing anything to change that reality.
So either A) This and that isn’t that important to them, B) They’ve got a serious problem with a limiting belief that tells them they can’t HAVE this or that … OR C) They’re just big fat liars.
Given that we all tell about 200 Lies a day, here are some ways to reduce that number by at least 1 or 2 before you punch out for the day.
IS YOUR WORK MAKING YOU SICK?
To unlock your wellness at work, it’s essential that your work adds to your well being and doesn’t make you sick, literally or figuratively.
Right livelihood ensures that the nature of the work you’re doing is aligned with your values.
And honest work that engages you and feeds both your wallet and your spirit is important because The Conference Board released a report stating that only 48.3% of U.S. workers are happy in their current jobs.
That means that more than 50% of the people reading this in America may be unhappy at work.
Given that the average worker spends at least 40 hours each week at work, the impact of this statistic is far greater than just 25% of the week spent being miserable.
If you are one of the millions of Americans unhappy at work, it’s time to take a serious look at what is causing this unhappiness. And the best place to start is with your core values.
I led a 3-hour training for Entrepreneurs Organization in Atlanta where I shared these same exercises and many attendees commented that doing them was one of the most impactful parts of the event.
Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search For Meaning that a life disconnected from one’s values rapidly declines towards ambivalence, then illness, then death—and I’ve found this to be true in my work with organizations around the globe.
While few corporate jobs are literally causing illness and death, we know that many industrial jobs still carry great risk for the worker.
And even if your job isn’t life-threatening, the long-term consequences of ambivalence are far greater than a crappy attitude and lackluster performance.
According to Gallup, about 70 percent of U.S. workers are disengaged from their workday and actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $450 to $550 billion per year in lost productivity.
In addition, up to 10 minutes per day, per employee, is lost due to tardiness, long lunches, and early departure and the average employee steals 4.1 hours every week says a report from American Payroll Association.
Lastly, there were 493 million sick days reported in 2019 in the U.S. and another 141 million reported in 2018 in the U.K.
So the stress of showing up day after day to a place that saps your spirit and devalues you as a human being can’t be underestimated.
DOES YOUR EXISTING WORK ALIGN WITH YOUR VALUES?
With those statistics in mind, is your work in alignment with your core values? And if not, how can you bring work closer towards your values?
In some cases, it may be that the best you can do is hold onto the direct exchange of money for time and that the money you’re earning allows you to care for yourself and possibly your family or community.
In other cases, it could be that a simple mindset shift will reframe how you view your work and its relationship to your values.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting magical thinking or lying to yourself about a situation or position that only pure fiction could make right.
You may not have your dream job–yet–but perhaps there are ways to bring enthusiasm and a sense of wonder to the job you already have.
A simple hack is to bring something you do love and are passionate about to your existing job.
By sharing what you love with your colleagues, clients, and organization, you’ll get to experience the synergy of right livelihood and may even be able to leverage that into other opportunities at work.
If you love designing things, volunteer to design the next presentation’s slide deck.
If organizing gatherings makes your heart sing, suggest to HR that you help plan the next team or company-wide event.
While these are simple illustrations, you can see how easy it is to brainstorm ways to bring what you already love to do and are good at to a place that may not always bring you joy.
RIGHT LIVELIHOOD AS A KEY TO WELLNESS
Loving what you do for a living doesn’t mean that it isn’t difficult or challenging at times to do your work.
Finding joy in day-to-day activities and remaining curious about how larger projects will unfold is a simple, if not easy mindset shift.
Most of us have to work for a living regardless of how well we are compensated.
And even those of us who are financially independent may still choose to work because it feels good.
Humans are social animals and we crave meaningful participation.
When what we do to support ourselves allows us to also support those we love or just feel connected to, our internal and external natures are aligned.
So if you can’t bring your values and work into alignment, maybe it’s time to consider new work?
For some of you, this is a major life decision that requires self-reflection and deep exploration, but you have to ask yourself which is more frightening—spending the bulk of your life afraid of leaving for fear of the unknown or settling for the already known fact that your current work will never align with your deeper sense of yourself and why you are here in the first place.
Only you can answer this question for yourself.
What is your happiness and fulfillment worth and what is the point of just surviving when thriving is every person’s birthright?