Thursday, September 23, 2010

Work: An Affair of the Heart

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking and don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking, and don't settle." - Steve Jobs

As we discussed yesterday, work is one of the most significant amounts of time we will spend on our lives, following hard on sleep and marriage. Steve Jobs above suggests that the only way to do great work is to do what you love - and love is as much as matter of the heart as it is a calculated decision.

Work is a great deal like a marriage - in theory, another affair of the heart. The question is much like finding a good partner, how do we find a work which will engage not only mind but our hearts as well?

On the one hand, we have college graduates coming out of school having followed their hearts to their interests only to find that their interests are not enough to create a job in the outside world (17th Century French Literature is not in and of itself a growing field). On the other hand, we have people who have done the "right" thing by taking the job that was offered to them only to find themselves in a relationship that is enduring but not endurable. It is again like marriage: those who marry the ones that excite them emotionally often find they are not good marriage partners, and those who marry sensibly find that sensibleness can become a long grey twilight.

But that may be where the analogy stops. To reinvent the marriage, you need to take action within the marriage. To reinvent the work is not necessarily to find yourself bound in the same way.

So there's the rub - how do essentially have an "affair" while at your current work, trying to find your true (work) love - (and without angering your current job)? How do you reinvigorate your work life - perhaps even your work search if it's been so long that you've given up hope?

Perhaps it's easier to ask another question: What excites you? What motivates you? What makes you feel like you are truly contributing, truly making a difference? Whatever those things are, that's where to start.

It could be that such things are light years away from what you are doing (They seem to be for me). That's not important. One has to start somewhere. When one is trapped in rainy weather, sometimes one only has the fantasy imagination of a sunlit day to start with. What's important is that 14% of your total life (on average) will be spent at a job. Will you settle only for passion, or will it be enduring the unendurable?

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