Why Does Your Work Mean So Much?
Why does your work mean so much? I get it – the clients I work with are ambitious, hard-working, driven, and growth-oriented. I am too. In the past, a bit too ambitious, and overworking to the point of exhaustion and eventual burnout.
That’s why I’m writing this blog. To point out the benefits and other qualities of work, including the deeper psychological meanings that drive our choices and behavior. My intent is for you to gain an increased understanding about why your work means so much; and subsequently provide you with clarity so you can make choices about maintaining balance and harmony between your personal and professional lives, while still being able to excel and find fulfillment at work.
Benefits of Your Work
We spend a good amount of our time working, maybe 35, 40 or 50 hours or more per week; that allocation of time in and of itself gives work a prominent role in your life.
Work has many benefits and fulfills many needs; it’s a source of income that allows you to support yourself and loved ones with basic things like food and shelter. It also provides the funds to do activities you enjoy and to build wealth long-term.
At work, you learn new skills, meet new colleagues and clients, and definitely get challenged by different work situations.
Work allows you to contribute to the good of others and important causes. Many people link their work to a higher cause, it’s their bigger purpose and strong motivator. For example, I have a friend who became a pharmacist and eventually a pharmaceutical company executive with the higher purpose of helping to find a cure for cancer.
Work gives you a sense of identity and connection; it anchors you to your “work family”. It provides a sense of stability too, especially if you’re going through a challenging time.
When my mother died, and years later my father died, I was in my high pressure corporate HR career. The outpouring of sympathy from my colleagues helped so much. And the ability to focus on work activities in the following months was beneficial to healing my grief.
The Deeper Meaning of Work
This passage below really resonated with me. Internationally acclaimed poet and author David Whyte, wrote the following in his book: Consolations, The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
“Work is frightened with difficulty and possibility of visible failure, failure to provide, to succeed, to make a difference, to be seen and to be seen to be seen.
Work, therefore is robust vulnerability, and a good part of the time, a journey leading us through very unbeautiful private and public humiliations.
We find the core essence of work, firstly through its fear-filled imagining, secondly, in the long necessary humiliations of refusal, courtship and apprenticeship, thirdly in the skill and craft we learn by doing and finally in the harvest of its gift and its gifting and, the surprising ways it is both received and rejected by the world and then strangely, given back to us.
Profit, recognition, wealth: are beautiful by-products only when they come as the children of this falling in love, this patient courtship; this falling down and getting up, this learning to live with and this long careful parenting of our work.”
I think this really speaks to the deeper significance of work and “to be seen and to be seen and to be seen”; especially true for those of us with a strong work ethic.
Balance and Harmony in Work, and in Life
I hope you now have a better understanding about why your work means so much. Keep this in mind when making choices about maintaining balance and harmony in your work, and in your life.
It is more difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance in certain organizations and industries, depending on the company culture, its values, and expectations. Before taking on a new role, ensure it’s a good fit for you.
Throughout your career, pay attention; stay aware of things like overwork, overstress, burn out, lack of boundaries, unhealthy competition, unrealistic expectations and work politics and how they are affecting you. Address them quickly and swiftly for your own wellbeing before they escalate.
I’ve seen the good and the bad of being hard-working and driven, during my HR career and now as a life coach working with career-focused professionals. It’s wonderful to work with people who have high standards and integrity. However, sometimes that quality leads to the imbalance that causes mental and physical exhaustion and illness.
If this blog resonates with you and brought you a deeper understanding of the role of work in your life, and what may be causing some of your challenges, let me know more in the comments.
Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash