Good Work, Joyful Work – Work Doesn’t Have to be Awful!

The idea of ‘right livelihood’, ‘dream jobs’, or finding joy and meaning in your work used to be something many of us would have considered a luxury or in the realm of specific religious or spiritual vocations.

Like many of us, when I was growing up and just entering the work world, I remember hearing a lot of things that betrayed the underlying assumptions and beliefs about ‘work’ in our culture, and most of them implied that work was supposed to be — at least in good part — unpleasant, hard, unfair, stressful, ‘a steep climb’, and just plain all-important.

A friend’s father summed up this unfortunate belief, telling her, “Work isn’t supposed to be fun. That’s why it’s called work.”

Thankfully, as a good number of people have explored and experimented with concepts of healthy work and right livelihood — and as the high costs of ‘business as usual’ to the planet, organizations, and individual wellbeing become more and more public — the idea that work should be healthy, positive, and joyful is making its way from the periphery towards the mainstream.

Enjoyable work, meaningful work, ‘dream jobs’, ‘work as prayer,’ and right livelihood aren’t just reserved for ‘the fortunate’ or ‘the wealthy’. These aren’t concepts that can only be experienced in certain types of ‘glamorous’ or ‘spiritual’ jobs or career paths.

We can certainly follow our hearts with vision, courage, and focus into a type of work or career path that holds more joy for us and is a better match for our gifts and skills. But we can also completely shift the quality of our current work simply by redefining what it is we’re about and what it is we want to ‘be’ and demonstrate.

By focusing on certain qualities and opportunities available to us wherever we are, including in our present work (or even if we’re ‘between jobs’ or in career transition!), we instantly redefine our own focus and change our own experience — and also change the effect we and our work can have on others.

This is simply a matter of deciding — “Today, I make the shift to a more rewarding, skillful, enjoyable way of working” — and then creating a personal vision and ‘vision to action’ plan that you live into a little bit more each day.

This article was originally featured at Ivy Sea Online and is reprinted with permission.