You Are Your Work (And That's Ok)

I've heard it said many times "You are not what you do!"

I get the sentiment here. I really do. 

It's the short way of telling workaholics and entrepreneurs and CEO's to not let their work get in the way of their family and their friendships and their life outside of work. 

And yes, you should absolutely not let the details of what you do each day (calls, emails, meetings, decision-making) get in the way of spending time with your family and maintaining healthy relationships with those around you. 

BUT - you are your work. Like the big work - work work, if you will (cue the Rihanna song). I'm talking the mission and vision and purpose element of your work. Your work is what you spend 8 hours on (at least) each day. Your work provides food and shelter and resources for your family. Your work makes up 1/3 of your life - it is most definitely a part of who you are. 

And if you are not your work, you should be. Because when you are not your work, you are likely spending the majority of your day doing something that is not a part of who you are. When you are not your work, you log significant hours and give loads of energy to and work with real people each day; yet you don't consider those things to be of any significance to who you are as a person. What a waste of a good day. And not just a waste of any old day; a waste of the only day like it in all of eternity. The only Friday, April 29, 2016 you will ever get. 

I don't know about you, but I don't want something I spend 1/3 of my life doing to not be something I can let define who I am as a human being. I want the work I pour my time and my resources and my energy and mental capacity into each day be something that helps define who I am and how I make an impact on the world around me. I want my work to matter and I want it to be a part of me. So how do you make the work count and become a part of who you are? Here are a few tips...

1) Think like a CEO. 

Need motivation to buy into the work you do each day? Think about your work like you are the only one who has what it takes to make you successful (because it's true). Think about your appearance and how you treat people. Think about bottom lines and stewardship of resources and relationships with colleagues. When you focus on these details and on making a positive impact, you're thinking like a CEO and you'll be bought in like you were when you started.

2) Do something that matters.

If the work you are doing is something you believe in already, then keep going! Lead by example to those struggling to find purpose in their day-to-day. If you're the one struggling, find a way to do something that matters to those around you every single day. Whether that is surprising your office with donuts or taking a friend out to lunch or sending an encouraging note to your boss, find a way to do something that matters to people. Surprise others with your kindness and generosity and you'll start loving your work. Repeat this each and every day.

3) Celebrate often.

It's easy to let your work define you when there is constant encouragement and affirmation. But what about the down times and seasons of details? Well, find a reason to celebrate. Whether it's a sales call that ended with a YES or a completed spreadsheet or a day where you didn't feel like throwing your computer...just CELEBRATE. Do it often and don't just celebrate yourself - find ways to reward yourself for making it through the details and learn to do the same for other people too.

Your work is bigger than simply punching the clock or getting a paycheck or putting on a happy face. It's a significant aspect of who you are, how you treat people, and how you contribute to society. The work you do each day is a means of stewardship - for your family, for the world, and even for your sanity.

You ARE your work so you might as well make it count.

I'll end with a question: what is the work you believe in the most and how can you integrate it into who you are? Let me know so I can cheer you on!