Your job and your work may be very different things. Your job is something you do so that you can make money. You may not want to go to your job, but you might have to if you want to survive.
Your work, on the other hand, is something you do to produce results. You might do your real work at your job, or you might do your real work outside of your job. But if you want to love your job, you have to treat it like it’s your work.
Give Yourself Over
If you want to love your job, you have to give yourself over to it. It doesn’t matter what your job is, there is a way that you can make it something more. One of my favorite quotes of all time makes this point better than anything I might write.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
That one quote explains what you need to do to give yourself over to your job. Your job is what you make of it.
Do More Than Is Expected
There aren’t too many things worse than doing what is expected of you, especially if you are the recipient of that low standard. Mediocrity isn’t in any way sexy or interesting. How could it be exciting for you to create something mediocre?
If you want to love your job, you have to do more than is expected of you. You have to take things up a notch or two. You have to surprise people. Doing more than is expected is going to require that you be resourceful and that you take the initiative. But it is worth it.
Find New Ways To Be Valuable
We humans are novelty-seeking creatures. We like new and interesting things. We’re made this way. When you do the same things over and over again, you can allow things to become tedious. The way to keep this from happening is to find new ways to create value for the people you serve.
What needs to be done that isn’t getting done? What new tasks could you take on? What are most of your peers trying to avoid? The more value you create, the more interesting and engaging your job will be. You will also find that the very act of seeking out new ways to create value is the surest recipe for being promoted into roles of greater responsibility—and the financial remuneration that comes with it.
Inspire Others with Your Attitude
When people go to their jobs, they say things like, “I hate Mondays,” or “Thank God it’s Friday.” They also say things like, “I’m just living the dream,” a strong indication that they are bored, unengaged, and bring very little of themselves to their job. Hanging around with the crowd with the black cloud over their heads is only going to infect you with what they’re carrying.
Instead of buying into the idea that your job is terrible, have some fun and inspire others with your attitude. When things go wrong, be positive in insisting you can solve the problem. Client unhappy about mistakes? Call them and tell them you are on it and that you own it. Being accountable alone will turn your client around.
Look it’s not easy to do these things when you are surrounded by slackers, cynics, and burnouts. But either they are working to influence you, or you are working on influencing them. Raise your personal standard and pull as many people up with you as possible.
If you can learn to bring your best self to your job, it will help you tremendously should you ever decide to hang up your shingle and do your work.