Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Perhaps you, like me, are still watching tonight's episode of "The Voice".  If so, then you probably had the same reaction I did to Jamie Lono and his adorably hyper-excited comment: "I can't believe this, I make sandwiches for a living, so this is awesome!"  After the urge to give him a big bear hug finally subsided, I was able to organize my thoughts enough to begin writing this post.
Last week I found myself in conversation with a group of women, one of whom was discussing her troubles finding the right job, or as she put it, "her thing."  Another woman responded with "I don't think I've found my thing either.  I mean, I have a job, and I guess it's my thing because I'm there doing it every day, but I don't really love it."  
I've been thinking a lot lately about the overall structure of the traditional work-week.  Anyone who is accustomed to working such hours full-time can already understand the toll this takes on a person: physically, emotionally, and mentally.  After all, we spend our most vibrant, awake, playful, engaged hours of the day at... work.  Then we drag ourselves home, where it's all we can do to throw together dinner, have some kind of quality family/self time, and then put ourselves to bed.  Truly, there aren't a whole lot of diversions that can brighten up such a routine.

The advice on the tip of everyone's tongue is usually boiled down to the catchphrase:  "Do what you love, love what you do."  But I disagree.  I am lucky enough to have a job that I love.  I am inspired by my work, I feel good about the people whom I serve, and, even though I worry about not making enough to take care of myself and my family, I would be hesitant to switch jobs just for higher pay.  Rather than sunning myself in the glory of this enlightened-work-satisfaction, I still find myself stressed out, bogged down, and full of dissatisfied feelings.  Work is work is work.

After noticing that, during the last few meaningful "check-ins" I've had with friends, my conversations have circulated around my work situation, it finally clicked for me.  Loving my work is not the issue, but prioritizing my life around work is.  I can work as hard as I like, be as passionately involved in my goals and dreams as I can be, but if I neglect the part of me that exists outside of this specific role, then I will never feel satisfied.  It seems so obvious, and yet, I believe there are some of you out there who can relate. 

So, I'm learning how to switch around my focal point, and reprioritize where my thoughts settle down.  When someone asks how my week has been, I shift my thoughts away from work (even though it feels as though all I did was work!), and think about my life.  What did my daughter do this week?  What about my husband?  What was I thinking about, or reading, or laughing over?  This has an amazing side effect, because focusing on the parts of life that I do 'for fun' helps me to recognize all the brilliant parts of life that sometimes fly under the radar.

So if you make sandwiches, than make the best damn sandwiches you can.  And when someone asks how you are, tell them about the songs you wrote last week.  Or the hike you took.  Or the overwhelming combination of joy and fear that possessed you as you sang in front of millions.

No comments: